Apr 17, 2013

[Games] Candy Crush (iOS / Android / Facebook)

Candy Crush is evil.

Yes, evil is the best word to describe it. It's a game that is devilishly simple in terms of its core concept but the way it was implemented transforms a casual game into a vile challenge against a horrible candy-filled board. And even when you're on the brink of throwing your mobile device across the room, you'll find yourself shaking off the red rage in your heart just long enough to give that particular state another go.

So how does an evil game like this one manage to become so popular for so many different people? Well, therein lies the true genius of this game.

On the surface, Candy Crush is a simple enough game. It follows the classic match three gameplay style that we've seen in many other games like Bejeweled dating all the way back to games like Columns. In these case you're mixing and matching different types of candy with longer chains resulting in special power-up pieces that can eliminate entire rows or columns or can explode to destroy more candies around it.

The game starts out simple enough with point targets that you have to achieve in order to complete the stage. But unlike moist match three games that rely solely on timers to limit gameplay, Candy Crush severely limits the number of moves that you have. You could see this was their way of making the game a lot more strategic in nature. Or you can complain that it makes the game a lot more random since the chance wildcard that determines what candies will fall down is pretty wild indeed.

And that is what makes that game truly memorable. Somehow amid the ever-expanding chocolate squares and the jellies that just don't want to go away, they managed to find an interesting balance between a simple and familiar game concept with truly frustrating and thus evil gameplay difficulty.

The game as actually been around for quite a while but something changed in recent months that had it becoming insanely popular. I feel a large factor here is how the developers, in this case King.com, managed to figure out a way to make the most of their integration with Facebook.

Sure, everyone tries to leverage Facebook by forcing users to have more and more friends on the platform in order to advance in the game. Here you pretty much need 3 friends every time you finish an episode before you can progress to the next stage. Facebook comes in more when you ask you friends for extra lives (to keep trying to defeat that particularly annoying stage) or to brag about having passed a friend in terms of a particular stage or when you scored a higher score for a stage than another friend. Your progress in the game is all charted out on this whimsical game map that makes sure to highlight where all your other Facebook friends are.

And the clincher - your progress with the Facebook version of the game syncs with the Android or iOS versions of the game that you have linked to your Facebook account as well. In that sense, they've created a nearly seamless experience across devices as you try to get to that last jelly that you need to clear.

Candy Crush is not a revolutionary game or one that has managed true innovation in the industry. But it is smart for taking the best of other games and apps and put it together in a highly balanced formula that results in devilish addiction. Thus the game rates a solid 5 blasted licorice squares out of a possible 5.

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