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Love/Hate relationships are interesting things. Sometimes it’s ice cream when you are lactose intolerant. For others it’s a new album from an artist you love not living up to your expectations. For gamers, the most common form is a great new title that you haven’t finished yet, that makes you negotiate if you’re going to work on full sleep or an hour or two’s worth. Thanks to some colleagues at work (you will remain nameless, but you know who you are…) I have a new game to finish that’s interfering with my sleep; Candy Crush Saga.
Candy Crush Saga is free Puzzle game made by developer King, and originally released on Nov. 14th, 2012 for iOS and Android, though it is also available for Facebook, and all options are free to download. You’ve probably seen invites or requests from people from you Facebook friends list for more lives. The gameplay is simple; it follows the Bejewelled formula of matching three or more like symbols, in this case small candies, to clear a level. Making combinations of four or five in a row, among other combinations, drops you an upgraded candy that, when matched, could blow up 3×3 sections twice, eliminate a board of an entire color or completely clear a horizontal or vertical line. Seems familiar, right?
Damn those Jellies. Damn all the Jellies.
What makes this better than Bejewelled, and possibly even more addictive, is the set up of the levels. There are a number of Levels in each Episode. The episodes feature an creepy/adorable (haven’t decided yet) cardboard cutout girl attempting to help out a character in the new land she has entered. Each level has a different objective, like scoring as many points in a certain time, getting a number of unmatchable pieces to the bottom of the board, or clearing all the Jellies, clear and increasingly layered background squares, from the level. The music is simplistic and mellow, and thankfully doesn’t interfere with the game. Instead of annoyance, you tend to make calmer, better decisions when you don’t have the pressure of a quick theme. Or, if you aren’t a fan, turn off the music, load up your own and go with it.
The dreaded licorice levels… *shiver*
Passing levels posts to the high score wall, advances the story and costs you nothing. If you fail a level, you lose a life. You start at five, and once you run out, you get to wait a full half hour of real time to get another life. Of course, this is the point where you understand all those annoying invites because you’re sending them to everyone you know, making excuses for why it’s ok for you to do it (I saw it as a cruel, ironic form of vengeance. Complete with costumes). Then I found another option that made me cringe…
Yep, you guessed it. Microtransactions. One of the downsides of free-to-play anything are these little gimmicks to get extra money out of you. We covered our dislike for Microtransactions previously, and this game isn’t changing our opinion. It’s understandable for small games to have a way to generate some profit from their hard work, but in a game that tracks high scores and progress, knowing that someone who shoves money at a developer could be the one that has so much higher a score than me cheapens the experience. And it’s not limited to just the above screen. There are also expendable microtransactions as well, giving you less bang for your buck than the above options. I don’t know about you, but I can’t spare $17 to refill my lives once and let three more lives accumulate when I’m not playing another hour and a half.
Get used to seeing this screen…a lot.
Also, this is certainly not the easiest game, either. Randomized pieces keep the game interesting for sure, but sometimes you get stuck on a level, consistently one objective short of your goal. The controls are tight, but if you have fingers bigger than a stylus, you will make a wrong move, as the candies are kind of small. The game is great in this aspect, as non-matching moves do not count against your moves count in a level, but one misaligned move can ruin your level. This is kind of a push, though, as most levels give you an unlimited time limit to make the best possible move you can, so it is well balanced.
Many levels to go
With so many levels to go, it’s hard to give this game a full, fair review. Apparently there are more than 200 ahead for me, and only two days into it, I fully intend on going through to the end. As it stands, I fully recommend this game on the basis that it’s free-to-play, will provide hours of fun, and really is a great effort by King. But enjoy at your own risk; this game will hook you in and not willingly let go.
How is your Candy Crush Saga addiction going? Leave a comment below and tell us about your experience!