Spectacular Sparky - FreakZone Games

There was something undeniably cool about mascot-themed action games in the ‘90s. These days, it’s all about the nameless hero. Or maybe you can create your own character, which means you’ll either create a badass legend or a bumbling dope like I did in Elden Ring. But mascot action games? Just like Saturday-morning cartoons, well, they’re sort of a thing of the past — a snapshot from a different era.

But then a game like Spectacular Sparky shows up, and it’s all like, “Hey, yo! Mascots not dead!”

Spectacular Sparky was developed by FreakZone Games. This same developer previously released Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures and Knight Terrors (among others), and like those titles, there’s an inherent old-school-ness to a lot of the design choices found in this game. First and foremost, Spectacular Sparky has the look and feel of a Sega Genesis game. Usually, retro-styled indie titles give off a NES or SNES vibe, but this game is more in-your-face — a little less super-family-friendly, and a little more Saturday-morning cartoon.

Spectacular Sparky - Boss Fight

The presentation of Spectacular Sparky — with all its pixelated blues and purples, as well as its action space shoot-‘em-up themes — is inviting yet still slightly edgy. It’s almost like a cross between Sonic the Hedgehog and Gunstar Heroes. Speaking of which, like the latter, Spectacular Sparky features a lot of really fun guns to use and experiment with. You’ve got rockets, rapid-fire guns, flamethrowers, burst shotguns, and more.

The majority of the game’s stages are 2D run-and-gun affairs, but there are also some flying stages. These aren’t as challenging as the shooter/platformer ones, but they’re still pretty cool. There are also some really rad bosses all over this game. Remember how big of a deal bosses were in 2D games from the ‘90s? Well, they feel like a big deal here, too!

The flow of Spectacular Sparky is nice and fast-paced. The game offers a decent challenge, but it never feels impossible, and it encourages you to go crazy and blast away all the baddies. It’s addictive as heck, but sadly, the game is over after about three hours. That’s not too bad, considering it makes for an awesome bite-sized action experience to play while chilling on a lazy evening. Still, I found myself wanting just a little bit more, which is actually a good thing as the game was designed so well.

Spectacular Sparky Gameplay

While Spectacular Sparky may have an old-school aura about it, FreakZone Games made sure to utilize modern tech to provide fully voiced dialogue sequences. These usually occur in between stages, where Sparky is being briefed by his boss, a sometimes-serious/sometimes-silly space boar. You’ll also get to see some fun back-and-forth banter between Sparky and each of the game’s bosses.

Sometimes the voice acting is a little cheesy, but when it succeeds, it legit sounds like something you would’ve seen on Kids WB or even Nickelodeon. Heck, I was even reminded of the Sam and Max cartoon that aired on Fox Kids back in the day. Not just because Sparky is also a talking rabbit-y thing, either, but rather because he has a spunk and attitude similar to that of Max.

Aside from being a little bit short, Spectacular Sparky really does nothing wrong, but it definitely has a lot going for it. The game is an incredibly entertaining shmup with some rad art and enjoyable cartoon-like writing. I’d recommend it to just about anyone, really, and I’d urge those of you who grew up in the heyday of mascot action games and Saturday-morning cartoons to give this a download posthaste.

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