Once upon a time, there was a group of powerful princess locked into cursed “No Cursing” towers by the evil queen Sparkle*Kitty. All their powerful spell words were transformed into sweetness. Sugar, spice, everything nice. The princesses, however, were clever. Using the sweet words forced upon them by the curse they forged new spells to free themselves from their towers.
Sparkle*Kitty is a silly and social word/party game for any age, size, or gender.
Sparkle*Kitty starts by placing the Spell Book in the center of the table, shuffling the Spell Cards (removing the green-backed cards with fewer players in the game), and each player taking a princess and 9 cards from the deck. Without looking at their cards players take 4 and place them face down under their princess to form a tower. The remaining 5 cards can then be taken up into their hand for use in the game.
At its heart Sparkle*Kitty shares mechanics with a lot of mass-market card games. Cards are played to the table by matching the color or icon of a previously played card in hopes of a player emptying their hand. It builds on this by having two piles built off “Spell” and “Book” on the board. Also, a player must also say the two words that are face up after playing a card. If they don’t, they have to add a face-down card from the deck to their tower. The goal of the game isn’t to empty your hand, but to remove cards from your tower and free yourself. Tower cards are removed when a player empties their hand, plays a “Double”, or plays a “Sparkle” or “Kitty” card. Tower cards can aslo be added to another player’s tower when a player plays a Dark Magic card, or a player catches another player not saying the Spell Words when playing a card.
I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
On a player’s turn they can:
- Play a Spell Card from their hand to either side of the Spell Book as long as it matches the color or icon of the previous card in that pile. They then must say outloud the new spell, ex “JIggle Panda.” If a player is caught not saying the words then they must add a face-down card to their Tower.
- Play a Dark Magic Card from their hand next to their princess. They then take a card from their hand and place it face-down on another player’s Tower. The words on any Dark Magic cards must be said aloud by the player before spell words on the Spell Book on every turn, or they suffer the consquence of having a card added to their Tower.
- Play a Special Card from their hand to either pile on the Spell Book. These cards are wild, and have the following special effects:
- Rainbow – If a player’s hand is empty after playing the Rainbow card they may take two cards off their Tower and add them to their hand
- Infinite – After playing an Infinite card a player may play as many cards from their hand until they can’t anymore
- Fudge – Force another player to draw back up to 5 cards in their hand
- Pass their turn if they have no valid play to make.
The goal of the game is to remove all Tower cards from beneath your princess. This can be done in a few ways:
- Empyting your hand allows you to remove one card from your Tower into your hand, and then draw back up to 5 cards.
- “Doubling” a card that’s already in play with a duplicate from your hand. This can be done at any time, even when it’s not your turn, as a free action. If you can pull this off you get a card from your Tower into your hand.
- Playing a “Sparkle” or “Kitty” card from your hand onto a matching color card on the Spell Book. This will allow you to take a card from your Tower into your hand.
Any of the above can be combined to allow you to take multiple cards from your Tower at a time. The first player to clear their Tower of cards is the winner.
Sparkle*Kitty comes in a small and sturdy box containing a deck of cards, a folding rule sheet, a small Spell Book board, and a foam block to keep everything from shifting around. The cards are glossy, sturdy, and should stand up to plenty of play. The word cards are colorful but are more utilitarian than anything. The Princess cards, on the other hand, are wonderfully illustrated, beautifully diverse, and the real shining gem of the game. Each princess is unique from her skin color, body type, interests, etc… They all provide a wonderful contrast from each other and the stereotypical princess (though there’s nothing wrong with a stereotypical princess at Princess Princess demonstrates!)
My only real complaint with the game’s components, and this may resolve over time, is that the Spell Book doesn’t sit perfectly flat no matter how hard I try to get it to. Inevitably during the game cards slip and slide on the slightly slanted surface making it hard to keep them in order, though honestly, it doesn’t really affect the readability of the top two cards. Maybe this is me just being a bit anal.
Sparkle*Kitty is a visually cohesive product from its box down to its rulebook. Visually stunning and fully durable and functional.
Sparkle*Kitty is an absolute blast to play. The simple mechanics tied with an overall wonderful theme and silly phrases make it hard to not laugh with delight as you play the game. I’ve played multiple times with my kids now and it’s become the most requested game to play in the house since it arrived. There’s just something overly satisfying about saying things “Hyper Mega Jiggle Panda” or “Pretty Awesome Sparkle Otter.” Pulling off amazing combos is also incredibly satisfying. Doubling a Sparkly/Kitty card causing you to empty your hand and drawing 3 cards off your tower while other players watch with mouths agape is nothing short of pure bliss.
That’s not to say the game doesn’t have a few cons. For one, though each princess is diverse, they serve no function in the game other than to be cool. There are no variable player powers depending on which princess is chosen. They’re pure flavor, and it seems an almost wasted opportunity for some really cool game mechanics to really push home the central theme of the game. Another issue can come when pulling off the above-mentioned sweet combos. Sometimes it can get a bit confusing how many cards from the tower should be drawn when multiple special actions are in play. Both of these are smaller nitpicks in the grand scheme of things.
Sparkle*Kitty is out now and only costs $20. It’s an excellent family game, but also a great game to play with large groups of people. It’s a ton of fun packed into a tiny little box and is certainly a game that shouldn’t be passed up.
A free copy of Sparkle*Kitty was provided for this review by Breaking Games
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.