What’s The Deal With… Candy Crush Saga?

A couple of weeks ago I had an idea for a series of blog posts. Why don’t I try games I’ve never played before? Games that have been hugely popular but that have passed me by. Unless you’re a gamer who’s filthy rich, with all the time in the world, then there’s a high chance that big franchises or popular, quirky indie games, have passed you by too. I have two constraints though. The first being money. I can’t splurge cash on games right now. The second being time. I think some family and friends may be under the impression that because I’m off work ill, and have been for the past few months, that I can spend my days in a bubble of gaming joy. That would be lovely but illness doesn’t work that way and my time is often spent resting or napping. My first game for this potential series had to be something I could work around those conditions. Something fairly chilled, that’s free, that I can dip in and out of for a few minutes, and something that’s massively popular that I’ve never played. One game sprung to mind and that’s when my descent into darkness began.

A few years ago, I met a lovely chap at a bar. He was an editor for a gaming magazine and I thought, “Score! No polite small talk here, we can get stuck into gaming-chatter!”. After possibly too excitedly declaring my love for gaming, his response was, “Ah. Actual video games or those Facebook ones?”. This isn’t the time and place for me to furiously blog about feminism in gaming but, ladies, I fought for us and eventually ‘proved’ my entitlement to love gaming after waffling on about Commodores, my SNES memories, etc etc. To see what the deal is with these Facebook-style games, I decided to have a peek into the world of mainstream gaming by downloading Candy Crush Saga onto my iPhone. I felt wrong and dirty doing it. Not because I’m some gaming snob, but because the company behind the game, King, has turned up in my timeline on numerous occasions with their shenanigans. I made two vows that day. The first – not to spend any money on this game. The second – not to link it to my Facebook account, despite the fact that old primary school friends and former colleagues could provide me with help when required.

My initial impression of the game was an eloquent, “Meh. This is just Bejeweled”. I love Bejeweled, I’ve had recurring addictions to that game. The deep, dulcet toned voice-over man telling me I’m amazing makes me wibble inside. I felt protective over PopCap’s creation so my first few Candy Crush Saga levels were filled with bitterness and self-loathing. Then things changed. As I progressed through my saga, the levels added new twists and challenges. There was also laughable attempts at a storyline. I must free a Yeti from a chocolate pond, fill some pool with lemonade, find a unicorn’s horn, some bollocks or other (but still a better story than Destiny – HAHA!).

On day one, I would patiently wait once my five lives were up. It takes around two hours to fully recharge them, or I could sell my kidneys and donate the blood of my first-born to unlock more moves, skip the level etc. I am a grown woman though, who is able to put her phone down and get on with her life for a couple of hours… Just kidding, naturally I googled sneaky ways to beat the system. There are intricate, secret methods to gain infinite lives by messing with your phone or tablets time and dates. That’s too much effort for me though so I took the ‘easy route’, the route that plummeted me into madness. By day three, I had downloaded not just Candy Crush Saga but also Candy Crush Soda Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and Diamond Digger Saga. Once I’d ran out of lives on one game, I’d merrily load up the next. The ensuing two weeks became a blur. I think I fed my daughters? I think I got my youngest to school? I think I showered? The sickness began to spread. My teenager started playing Candy Crush Saga and, before bedtime, my eight year old enjoys playing a Farm Heroes Saga level or two with me on the tablet.

At the time of writing, I’m still a Saga newbie really. I’ve ‘only’ reached level 107 in Candy Crush, 68 in Soda, 70 in Farm Heroes (the next fifteen levels unlock tonight after a patient four day wait!) and level 32 in Diamond Digger. I see now why these games have become so popular. As much as it pains me to say it, King have done a good job. There’s no ads, they’ve never crashed, the games are polished and instill a perfect challenge/reward feeling. I’ve joyfully yelped after nailing a level I’d been stuck on for the past day. This experiment with something new has become a monster though. It’s time I weened myself off. My teenager is clean. She saw sense and would rather invest her time in her first Arkham Asylum playthrough. My youngest and I are in deeper. I haven’t touched Candy Crush Saga for a couple of days now since they introduced a new bomb mechanic which makes levels much harder and less enjoyable. Diamond Digger Saga isn’t great so I’m over that one. It’s just Soda and Farm Heroes I need to kick now. I’ll give it one more week, just one, and if I’m still playing them after that then you have permission to delete them from my phone.

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