You’ve seen the advertisements. You’ve heard the buzz about it. It’s been the top app in the iTunes App Store for months. It is Candy Crush. You may see people playing it on their iPhones or on their iPads and think to yourself, “That looks like a cheap knockoff of Bejeweled,” or, “That doesn’t look hard at all.”
I myself thought the game looked lame and had no point. I kept hearing my mom and my sister talking about Candy Crush, so I finally decided to give it a try. The premise of Candy Crush is similar to Bejeweled. Match three of the same colored candies to gain points. It differs from Bejeweled since there is a storyline to Candy Crush as well as having different goals for each level. Each level has a different objective, ranging from getting a certain number of points to bringing ingredients to the bottom, to getting rid of jellies.
The game begins simply enough. A cute little girl with pigtails teaches you the basics of the game, how to match candies, and how to get special candies like striped candies and wrapped candies. Starting the game is easy. I don’t think I dropped a life through the first 10 levels. Jellies are introduced in level 6. Jellies are basically a square glazing behind a piece of candy. Levels that have jellies require the player to remove all the jellies from the board. Some levels include double jellies, which are jellies that require the player to get rid the jelly twice in order to remove it.
All was well and good as I continued playing. The levels remained simple enough as I made my way through Candy Town. Level 11 introduces ingredient levels which require the player to maneuver cherries and hazelnuts to the bottom of the screen. These levels start out pretty easy but get difficult quick, especially when the ingredients have meringue and chocolate too.
Each level has a specific color so before playing you know what kind of level to be expecting. Orange levels ask you to get a certain number of points in an allotted amount of move. Blue levels require you to remove all the jellies. Pink levels make you fill orders of specific candies to get. Green levels need you to get all the ingredients to the bottom. And purple levels make you get a certain number of points in a limited amount of time. Timed levels are by far the easiest since you don’t need to do anything specific.
As the game progresses, it becomes more difficult to get the high amounts of points required. To compensate, the game has special candies that you get for combining more than three candies. There are three special candies that are obtainable by combining candies. Combining four candies gets you a striped candy, moving a candy that matches two groups of three gets you a wrapped candy, and combining five candies of the same color gets you a color bomb.
Each special candy has a unique ability that clears more candy from the board. Striped candies take out an entire vertical or horizontal row of candies depending on which way the stripes face. Wrapped candies blow up a 3×3 area of candy, then blow up another 3×3 area. Color bombs take out all the candies of one color on the board. When special candies are combined they create even bigger reactions. Two striped candies clear a vertical and horizontal row of candies, two wrapped candies explode an 8×8 area of candies twice, and two color bombs clear the entire board of candy. A striped candy and a color bomb makes all of the candies of one color turn into striped candies, and a wrapped candy and color bomb detonate all the candies of one color, and once the board settles down, detonate another random color.
There are also obstacles that make the levels more difficult. Meringue is introduced in early levels and can be removed by matching a group of candies adjacent to it. Chocolate is introduced later and is one of the most difficult obstacles in the game. In order to remove chocolate the player needs to match candies adjacent to it. However, every move the player doesn’t remove a chocolate, another chocolate will grow adjacent to an existing chocolate. Chocolates can quickly overtake the board and make the level difficult to beat. Another difficult blocker is the licorice swirl, which is immune to all special candies, with the exception of a color bomb and color bomb combo. Licorice is removed much like the other blockers, by matching candies that are adjacent to it.
As the game progresses more levels become available to play. Levels are separated into episodes which contain 15 levels each. Every episode has a unique, candy-themed name like Minty Meadow or Bubblegum Bridge. In order to continue on in the game and unlock new episodes the player has a few choices. The player could connect the game to Facebook, which gives them the opportunity to ask for help from their friends on Facebook in order to unlock the next episode. Connecting to Facebook also shows the progress other people on Facebook have made and what level they are currently playing. Another option is to complete quests which are randomly selected levels that the player must beat. To unlock a new episode a player needs help from three Facebook friends or complete three quests. There is also an option to immediately unlock a new episode by paying $0.99.
There are many elements of the game that can be bought. Candy Crush is almost always the top grossing app in the App Store, which means it is the app that has made the most money. What is amazing about Candy Crush is that the game is free, and all the money that is made from it is through in-app purchases. For example, every time the player fails a level the game offers them five extra moves for $0.99. I myself am guilty of utilizing this once or twice. When there is one or two moves that need to be made in order to beat a level but you run out of moves, the urge to continue is sometimes too great, especially if the level is difficult. Boosters are able to be purchased like Lollipop Hammers, which allow the player to smash one specific candy. This is useful in situations when there is one jelly left in the level but no moves that will remove the jelly. Other boosters include starting the game with striped candies, wrapped candies, and color bombs, and getting to have jelly fish as part of the game board, which pop candies when they are paired with matching colors.
The question I continue to ask myself is, “Why is this game so popular?” It is similar to other games that have been around, notably Bejeweled. The thing with Candy Crush, though, is that it has an almost unlimited amount of scenarios to keep players frustrated. The life system limits the play time, meaning every time a player fails a level, they lose a life. Players have five lives, and each life takes 30 minutes to regenerate. The only flaw with that system is that the game runs via the devices internal clock, so anyone playing on a mobile device could change the time settings on their phone or tablet to move time forward, thus giving them more lives.
Another question that many people probably wonder daily is, “Why is Candy Crush so addictive?” Some of the reasons that come to mind are that the levels seem easy, and you would think they can be beat in one or two tries. When you can’t beat a level in a short period of time it starts to bug you and create a force between you and the level that makes it seem like the level needs to be completed. The implementation of showing where your Facebook friends currently are in the game also adds to the addictiveness. People always want to win and be better than other people, and in Candy Crush it is no different.
I did some research into the addictiveness of Candy Crush. According to the websites I looked at, the game is almost too simple and people feel dumb that they can’t beat some levels. According to others, the game is designed to be a habit and not a game. If the game is played at similar times of the day then eventually it will become a normal part of people’s everyday lives. It seems like it has even developed beyond being a habit for some and has turned into an obsession.
Whether you’ve played it or not, be forewarned that the game becomes very addicting and difficult to quit. Connecting the game to Facebook shows just how many people have played the game. Playing Candy Crush does develop a habit, and many habits are very difficult to break. The developers continue to create new levels for both the Facebook game and the mobile app, which currently have 500 and 440 levels, respectively. The game continues to grow in popularity each day, and it seems as though it will never stop being popular.
I’d like to end with some advice for everyone playing Candy Crush. Every level is possible, even if you’ve played it hundreds and hundreds of times. Even if the level doesn’t require skill and is only based on luck, there is still some way to beat the level and continue on. And if a level is so difficult that you want to quit playing because of it out of frustration, I’d tell you to keep on trying until you finally beat it, then quit. You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you beat the level, then you can quit the game. For those of you who continue to play and keep unlocking more levels, I wish you good luck and happy Candy Crushing!