Review: Sparks by NetEnt
Bright, light and cheerful – that's all we need to liven up the some of the dreary summer days that we've been having, and the new Sparks slot by NetEnt somewhat delivers. Electrifying and energetic, the slot is definitely entertaining when we tried it, but it left us feeling that it's very similar to Starburst and even Neon Staxx. While we love the novel feature of Expanding Cloning Wilds and the massive wins that can be triggered pretty regularly, this game isn't without its letdowns. Read how Sparks really fared when we put it through its paces in our comprehensive review.
When the release of Sparks was announced, the sneak preview looked great, so we knew that when the slot finally came out, it would blow us away. And it certainly did: the super bright colours, the electrified atmosphere and the soundtrack that will have you transfixed on the spinning reels all make Sparks another great NetEnt release.
Featuring five reels and 20 fixed paylines, the bets that you can place range from just 0.01 to 2 coins in value. Then, you must also choose what level you wish to play from one to ten, which will compound with your coin value and produce your total bet. So at the very basic level, you can play with 20p per spin and if you wish to really try your luck, go for the maximum bet of £400 – the rewards could be absolutely massive!
Keeping in mind that the biggest win-both-ways payout is 200x if you land five Red Sparks on your reels, you could potentially be looking at a £80,000 win. And that’s just from a simple symbol combination too. Of course, there are also other symbols that bring profitable wins: the Orange Spark, the Green Spark, the Purple Spark, the Blue Spark and the letters A, K, Q, J and number 10.
The return-to-player is a very healthy 96.5%, which is similar to the slot, and is pretty standard. Lastly, we’ve classed this slot as low, meaning that whilst this is no penny-spinner, the slot yields simple combination wins pretty often and the features occur quite regularly too, with a mammoth win thrown in once in a long while too. Overall, it keeps your balance pretty steady and you can be sure to have a whirlwind of a playing session on Sparks and not go without a winning spin for minutes.
There are no free spins, no jackpots and no cartoon characters on Sparks – it’s purely about the sparky neon symbols and the spirited features bringing you mega wins.
Win Both Ways isn’t a feature that makes much of a difference, although it does sound good ‘on paper’. With the difference in return-to-player of just 0.02%, we see no other reason to go for the ‘winning both ways’ game mode, but for the nicer background and just ‘because’.
Next up, the wilds. Represented by a ‘W’, these regular substituting wilds are just like the wilds you can get on any other video slot. If you manage to get them appear on your reels in threes, fours and fives, the winnings will be multiplied by 20, 75 and 200 accordingly. The wilds can substitute for any other symbol on the reels to bring you maximum wins, but cannot substitute for the supreme symbol of this game which is the Expanding Cloning Wilds.
Those electrified, golden hued Expanding Cloning Wilds symbols appear on the reels quite frequently and are really the most exciting feature of the game. They can only appear on reels two and four though, because they need space to expand horizontally both ways. They can substitute for all symbols and it’s anyone’s guess whether they don’t expand at all and stay the same, expand up or down, or even expand both ways. It really a game of chance!
We expect nothing less from NetEnt than the most beautiful looking and carefully crafted games. Sparks is no exception. The audiovisuals are weirdly electrifying yet soothing at the same time, like a power yoga session for your eyes. The music is calming and the sparks that rain down from the top of the screen when you hit an especially large win are mesmerising.
And the Sparks Touch (Touch being the range of the games from NetEnt that are adapted to run smoothly on mobile devices) is also great. When we tried the game’s mobile version, it loaded quickly, the controls were easy to locate and use and the gameplay on a smallish screen was great too.
Am I Seeing Double?
A low variance game that is simple, has one major feature and looks bright and cheerful – are we talking about NetEnt’s Starburst? Well, no. The same description fits Sparks perfectly too, which makes us wonder whether this isn’t truly a ‘new’ release, but a way to capitalise on the people who fell in love with Starburst, hoping that Sparks would catch on equally as quickly as it’s neon coloured sibling did.
With that 80s disco feeling, we are pretty sure the software developers recycled the colour palette of Starburst too. What’s more, it has a very similar feel like the Neon Staxx slot as well. Are NetEnt just on a roll with such slots, seeing how popular they get? Well, there will come a point when the market for these slots reaches super saturation; we don’t need a dozen of the same type of slots, albeit in a slightly different skin.
We cannot help, but think that the performance and the features of this game are like chicken soup for the soul: re-energising and relaxing at the same time, you can spin the reels endlessly. However, it has no real features, just the wilds. The win-both-ways also doesn’t make much difference in terms of return to player, but if you like a simple, low variance slot to spend the time, get the sparks flying with this slot. We just wish it had a few free spins thrown in…