I rue the day my friend, Adam, told me about Candy Crush. When I used to look at friends of mine who were hundreds of levels ahead of me on the board and hate them for their lofty position I was being a fool. There was absolutely no reason for me to feel scorn towards those people. As I progressed through the levels I learned that anyone who had made it hundreds of levels in had already walked a path of immeasurable sadness and possibly financial loss. There was no reason to hate these people because they obviously already hated themselves enough to continue to take the punishment that Candy Crush has to offer. My hate was better reserved for people who played other, more logical games and actually liked themselves. It’s not a proud life. What can I tell you?I’m getting all ahead of myself, though. You might have stumbled upon this without knowing what Candy Crush is. Have you ever played Bejeweled? It’s essentially the same game with a couple of tweaks. The goal is to switch pieces around the board and match three or more pieces in a row or in more than one row at a time. Matching more than three of any piece will create a power-up that can then be used to blast even more pieces off the board. The goal of each level varies. Some levels are strictly point based and require the points be collected before number of moves runs out or before the timer runs out. Other levels require you to make combinations in specific areas to clear “jelly” which resides in slots with candy pieces in them. There are levels where you get ingredient pieces that you must push to the bottom and allow to drop off and levels where you need to collect a certain number of different things on a list to pass forward. I’m sure there are more types of levels that I will likely never see, but I think I’ve painted enough of a picture. What you’re looking at is a basic puzzle game, right? Well, kind of?
I like to call the game “Moves At The Top”, because a lot of the time when all of the action of a level is located at the bottom, what you’re getting is nothing but one possible move at the top of the level that doesn’t do anything except open up one more move in the same area, sometimes repeating until you lose the level. It’s not really so much of a puzzle game when you can only make one move over and over again. It’s kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book that keeps giving you only one page to turn to and kills you on page 68 every time by having you fall from the back of a griffon. I will admit that the game isn’t always like that, but it certainly is more than a little. There are also some bizarre rules involving power-ups. They’re more powerful if you can combine two of them by swapping them with each other. Any type can be used in this manner with any other type, with varied effects depending on the combinations used. Sometimes, though, when you get two of them together they set each other off for no logical reason, preventing you from combining them and getting a better result. This is especially frustrating when you’re required to combine two specific power-ups together and they set each other off before you ever get the chance to use them properly.
If there are no more possible moves the game will reshuffle the board, sometimes providing the same “only one possible move loop” mentioned above. If you break chocolate or another obstacle blocking the candy pieces from descending with a power-up but have no possible moves after that the game will take you to the losing screen even though you just opened a pathway for more moves. If you’re on a points level and you blow past the number of points you need but get trapped with no more moves before it’s over then you lose even though you met the objective. The real kick in the testicular region, though, is when you have shopping list levels where you need to combine specific amounts of different candies and the ones you need the most of are obviously sparsely distributed, making it a pure game of luck if you hope to succeed without spending money. Let’s talk about that whole money thing for a second.For a ‘free’ app Candy Crush fishes in some serious coin. You can purchase permanent power-ups that you can use in some levels (looking at about forty dollars per power-up) and also finite power-ups that make the levels a lot easier to beat. You can also pay something to the tune of fifty cents for five more moves if you run out without reaching you goal or, I believe, fifteen seconds added on a timed level. Certain levels are obviously designed to inspire you to purchase a specific power-up in order to beat them, and if you don’t want to pay then you’re going to have to hit the jackpot. That’s wherein lies the hope of anyone who’s still playing (myself included, at least for now). Every once in a while you’ll make a move and the whole board will waterfall with different combinations popping up all over, defeating most of the level for you without any actual skill required on your part. If you play a hard level for long enough you will get that waterfall and you can put that one behind you for the rest of time. They seem to thin out the further you get into the game, though.
I think the best way to describe it is someone took a slot machine and melted a puzzle game into it and Candy Crush was the result. If you’re dedicated enough you can probably get most of the way through the game, which is as of yet incomplete, without paying money. If you think you’re going to blast through, though, you should think again. Dream Crush Saga is what it should be called. You get the impression that with mild tweaks the game could be a lot more fun to play, but it would likely come at the cost of inclining less people into paying money to beat it. The trend of free games in which money can be paid is still failing when it comes to offering reasonable options for people who are willing to spend a little bit of money but don’t want to spend the amount they’d spend on an actual computer game for an app that’s actually kind of basic. I look at the people on the long road ahead of me now and I weep for them. They’re stronger than I am. Stronger in their resolve and self-hatred.