No, wait! Don't go anywhere! This isn't an advertisement. I understand if you thought that it was some sort of sponsored thing when you first saw the headline--it's hard to travel three clicks on the internet nowadays without being bombarded with ads for King's casual, free-to-play Candy Crush Saga. "Deliciously sweet fun!" one says. "Hundreds of candy-coated puzzles!" claims another. But none of these colorful, sugary ads tell the truth about the game. If they did, it'd be a picture of me staring at a bright cell phone screen at 3:00 AM, hovering over the green "$0.99" button on the Extra Moves page, mumbling expletives under my breath.
Calling Candy Crush Saga a Bejeweled clone is like calling heroine a caffeine clone. Candy Crush takes the concept of swapping gems to create cascading explosions and amplifies it to the nth degree by adding enhanced social elements, mesmerizing visuals, and--most important of all--hundreds of different levels. Some will have you grinding for points, others will ask you to clear out jelly cubes blocking all of the spaces on the board, while others yet will demand you clear a path for falling Acorns. This variety keeps you going, pushing you to play just one more game.
But, ingeniously and cruelly, there's a catch: You can run out of lives in Candy Crush Saga. Every 20 minutes you accrue an additional life (with a maximum of five), meaning you can't just sit around playing all day matching gems and destroying chocolate. You'll want to, too, because the game is so damn cute and fun that you're brain will simply stop working unless you're playing it. The implementation of lives forces you to take your time as you slowly crawl through the 300+ levels, playing for a few minutes at a time unless you either beg Facebook friends for lives or spend money.
Yeah, you can spend money--you can buy additional lives, more turns, more time (in timed levels), and even items that allow you to destroy gems or clear lanes. They're mostly overpriced, but that doesn't matter; odds are you aren't going to spend real money because you're not an insane person. Who in their right mind would spend money on a few extra turns in a free game?
Flash back to me, staring at a bright cell phone screen at 3:00 AM, hovering over the green "$0.99" button on the Extra Moves page, mumbling expletives under my breath. I'd been stuck on this level for two weeks. I had to clear out jelly blocks that covered the entire board and I hadn't come close. That was, until this game, when I was one turn away from beating it. It wasn't like, some pie-in-the-sky chance, either, I could see the swap to end the game. To finally make it to the next level. So I hit it, accepted the $0.99 charge, and beat the level.
And I felt nothing.
Looking for stuff to play outside of the stuff we already tell you to play on a daily basis? You're in luck! Every Saturday we'll recommend a game for you to check out, complete with a story on how we found the game and why we recommend you play it.