Candy Crush Saga: Getting Past the Hype

Breaking Modern — It’s the game that’s clogged up your Facebook notifications … the game your friends demand you play on your smartphones and tablets. That cheapish rip-off of Bejeweled …. right. You got it. I’m talking about Candy Crush Saga.

At first, I didn’t care about Candy Crush. I wanted to slap my friends through the Internet for even suggesting that I play this game. But with time, I thought: What have I got to lose? I didn’t want to review it exactly. But I wanted to dig past the hype. I wanted to know if I was really right — and if my friends were wrong. And I wanted an honest look at the addictive fad sweeping the mobile games nation.

Candy Crush first impressions

The premise of Candy Crush Saga is simple: match at least three candies of the same color in a row to clear them from the field. Get a finite amount of points, achieve certain secondary objectives (like clear the jelly) or bring down ingredients and you’ll pass the level.

At first the game looks easy. It’s a complete cakewalk! A child could do it! And children do. But then, when you reach the higher levels, a rage quit (or six) is surely lurking nearby. With the mountainous number levels reaching as high as 100, you’ll have to play till you drop.

Normally I’d dismiss a game with this many levels as an endless quagmire of repetition, but, surprisingly, Candy Crush has avoided such fault with legitimately hard levels. I was (and am) aggravated to no end, as I’m sure everyone else with a phone is. There’s a lack of game variation, but with Candy Crush it seems not to matter. Simple is beautiful.

Tragic artistry

King Games has made an excellent game, but the company didn’t completely follow through. While some may like it, I feel the art looks like a tragic collision between Candyland and Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. The whole “storyline” seems slapped-on and childish, with cutout characters consisting of a factory man, a little girl and a crying dragon. C’mon, I saw that dragon in a Starburst commercial!

Take two seconds to contemplate the irony of a game that has hooked teenagers and adults, and yet uses graphics meant for a five-year-old kid. Perhaps the brain trust at King Games thought the game would be boring without these visual perks. Yet while I rant, strangely, the gameplay is good enough to keep me hooked, investing hours of my time like everyone else.

I take issue with the background music, too. It doesn’t enhance anything—rather, it annoys me so much in the later (and much harder/longer) levels that I want to flip something over in rage. And that’s coming from a moderate player. For my friends that have invested many hours into this game, I don’t know how they (and you, if you play) live with this soundtrack.

I do have to admit that Candy Crush Saga is unique in the mobile world, for good and bad reasons. For one, the game helps you when you’re stuck, showing you a valid move. It’s nice, but not always the best plan of action.

Then there are the money-costing power ups. No game requires as much payment and boosts as the extra moves, more lives, and other items in Candy Crush. I thought that gems in Clash of Clans were bad (I’ve been told I can’t get a great town hall without them, so far I’m clean at a level 4), but this is almost thievery.

However, there’s a way around this. Just go on Facebook, give up all sense of pride and wisdom, and pathetically ask your friends to give you more lives. Why? Why does the gaming world feel the necessity these days to squeeze people’s money and time for extra features?

Features used to be unlockable components in purchased games, usable with virtual currency that they earn based on their own merit and skill. But now companies want to extract all the coinage they can from a game, either by selling half-finished products, or by catering to the player’s desire to boost their status/level/whatever by selling power-ups for real money. Seriously, the finite amount of lives changes Candy Crush Saga from a revolutionary new mobile game into a cheap Atari knockoff from the ’80s (and at least you could get power-ups for free back then).

That’s my version of a rage quit.

Anyway, while Candy Crush Saga certainly has its flaws, King Games’ ability to turn a simple color matching game into the crazy, notification-clogging bombardment is a testament to creativity and ingenuity. And marketing.

So is this game worth the hype? I would say yes. The gameplay speaks for itself. But the game is a victim of too much fruofruo on the part of the designers.

If I were rating this game, I would say this gets a 6/10 for delivering creative, non-repetitive gameplay — but with mediocre features. I would recommend playing this game just for the addictive and challenging gameplay, which is considerable.

For Bmod, this is Puching Zhang.

All screenshots: Candy Crush Saga page via Google Play

Puching Zhang

Author: Puching Zhang

Based in Chicago, Puching Zhang covers the gaming beat for BreakingModern.

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1 Comment

  1. Gina Smith

    Candy Crush! Who plays me now>

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