Its simple, it’s addictive, and it’s free… or is it? The creation of the app market has lead to an unprecedented amount of free to play, yet costly to win games. Though they are often free to download, many of these tempting offerings are slowly by surely ridding many gamers first of their patience and then of their hard earned cash. Out of all of the free to play games out there none seems to have as much of a presence as the famed Candy Crush Saga, and surprise surprise, this is my latest app addiction.
I admit freely that I have been stuck on level 65 for what now seems like an eternity. This sweet as sugar candy busting puzzle game has taken me on a winding journey through colourful candy lands, solving candy-blasting puzzles, exploding stubborn blocks of jelly and finding long lost ingredients. Like many successful IOS titles it is not a complicated game, in fact I doubt if one in ten players could tell you the storyline. It is however highly addictive and if you are not careful could end up costing you more than the price of your pick n’ mix.
The problem with Candy Crush Saga is this. Though the game was originally downloaded for free, like many games currently on the free to play market once you reach a certain level in the game it starts to offer you optional upgrades. The paid extras can be anything from additional lives, to high-powered super gems, new levels and bonuses, and of course they all come at a price. Though these upgrades may have different effects they all seem to have one main purpose, to make the game easier to win.
Now cash poor and thoroughly hooked on my quest to rule the land of candy my question is this; Is it possible to play Candy Crush Saga without spending an absolute fortune or selling your social media soul in the process?
Well in theory the answer is yes, however if you want to keep the candy crushing, there are certain hurdles that you must first overcome.
Earn your bonuses
Ok so first off I know that it can be tempting to spend all of your real world money on super powerful candies and cause instant candy mass destruction. There are always going to be times when you have been stuck or ages, you are getting frustrated, and then the game offers you a shiny candy that will fix everything for the bargain price pf £27.99. We have all been there. Don’t forget however that a candy earned can be as powerful as a candy bought. There is something extremely satisfying about creating super powerful combinations out of nothing, and in case any have fallen off of your raidar here is a run down of a few of the special candies that you can make and combine in game:
The limited moves and tricky puzzles make it really easy to get locked into the area you are working on. Matching special Candies together can have extremely powerful results however, so it is worth keeping your eye on the rest of the board and capitalising on these matches wherever possible. The effects of the super Candies not only add to your score, but also have the benefit of covering a much larger area than the standard matches. This can make them extremely helpful, especially when tackling a mountain of chocolate or trying to clear that pesky jelly out of difficult to reach places (Oh err…)
Patience is a Virtue
In Candy Crush the difficulty of levels the seems to vary immensely. Often you can go from grappling with a tricky licorice filled level for days on end, to breezing through the next five levels in a single sitting. Though this can make the game hard to predict, there is hope here. Just because you have been stuck on a single level for a while, doesn’t mean that all of the levels that follow it will also be impossibly hard. Though it may be tempting to spend the extra cash on bonuses to get through, all you really need to progress is a little luck. Most of the time the game appears to generate different Candy layouts each time you play, and so if you play for long enough it is only a matter of time before you get a lucky winning layout. Sure, if you want instant gratification go ahead and buy the bonuses, however more often than not patience pays.
Mix it up
One of the most frustrating parts of this game is its insistence that you must pay to keep playing. Players can store up to 5 lives at a time, and lives re-spawn after 30 minutes. In the free to play world however impatience can be a financial drain, and the game will constantly tempt you with extra lives and extra moves at an extra cost. Sadly there is no easy fix here, there is no choice other than pay, connect to Facebook or wait. This may be incredibly frustrating at first, but this system does have the added unexpected bonus of making the game last much longer…
Ticket to ride
The game is set out in episodes, with each episode containing 10-15 levels. Upon completing a set of levels the game will prompt you to pay for transport to a new episode, either by allowing the game rights to link to your Facebook page or by paying a fee. You can however opt to bypass this payment by playing through quests. The quests are special challenges that come in sets of three. Though the quests are often not much more difficult than the standard levels, there is a major downside. After completing a quest, players must wait 24 hours before unlocking the next quest to progress. Again this is a simple matter of patience. One small piece of good news however is that during the long wait for a new quest you are not locked out of standard gameplay. This means that if you truly can’t contain your addiction you are free to go ahead and use any accumulated lives to better your high scores on past levels while you wait.
Weigh your options
You know when the game gets all helpful and starts suggesting moves for you? Yeah, don’t listen to it. Though these suggestions can be useful if you are impossibly stuck, but often they are not your most advantageous option. Most of the levels in this game don’t have a time limit, so instead of getting lazy and blindly making the match suggested take some time to weigh your options.
As well as asking you to complete an objective such as clearing jelly or finding ingredients, most levels will require you to reach a minimum high score in order to progress. This is where the Sugar Crush is useful. There are several types of Sugar Crush, but the most basic one works like this. When the game ends the Sugar Crush will activate any remaining special Candies on you board, adding the points to your overall score. This system means that if you have limited moves left and only one match left to make, it may be better to create as many special Candies as possible rather than wasting moves by activating existing Candies in game. There are also other much more fancy types of Sugar Crush, for example the Jelly Fish Crush. If this Sugar Crush is in play one Candy fish will appear for every move you have left. These fish will gobble up remaining Candies adding yet more to your score. The Sugar Crush finishes can be lifesavers where scores are concerned, so it is worth making the most of them.
The Facebook Option
As this game was originally pioneered on Facebook, sometimes Candy Crush Saga will offer the option for players to bypass the bonus fees in favour of linking the game to you Facebook page. Personally I don’t like linking games of any sort to my social media accounts. Now I am not accusing Candy Crush of anything horrible here, in fact some of this links may be totally harmless. It is however worth being aware of the possible consequences of linking up. As well as potentially allowing the game access to certain personal information (which can be later be sold or used for advertising purposes) these links can often allow companies to diectly post advertising on your behalf via your wall or feed. Of course each game is different, and it is the choice of the individual player as to weather or not to allow the game access to social media accounts. After experiencing the barrage of advertising forced my way by fellow players of free to play games however, I am not much of a fan.
So that’s it, all that I have learnt from my own saga so far. I have a long way to go, and dispute my enthusiasm and persistence I’m probably not going to be reaching level 425 anytime soon. Still, despite my slow progress I still take it as a personal challenge to play through tricky titles such as this without spending the extra on upgrades. It is not that I resent paying for games overall, it is more that I prefer the cost to be transparent from the start and preferably fixed. After all, there is nothing more frustrating than starting a game and paying for some upgrades, only to be priced out of the game just when things start to get interesting.
Do you have any tips, hints or stories from your own Candy Crush Sagas? Do you pay the extra or wait it out? Please share below.
Until next time,
Candy Crush Saga is out now for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Android and Facebook.
Warning: If do not wish to spend money in-game please turn off in-app purchasing on your devise’s settings before downloading Candy Crush Saga. You can usually find details of how to do this in the device manual or via the manufacturers websites.