Candy Crush Saga is the latest mobile game craze, available for Android, iOS, Facebook and online. It's your average match-three puzzler, but a variation on the theme that sees gems swapped with sweets and other tasty treats. It's deliciously addictive. See Android Advisor.
Hailed as 'the sweetest game', Candy Crush Saga invites you to "join Mr Toffee and Tiffi on an exciting journey through the world of candy". As with any game of its genre, you match like sweets in a line of three or more to gain points and bonuses. In common with that other great gem-puzzler, Bejeweled, the more sweets you match with each move the more candy bombs you create, points you collect and faster you progress.
Each level of Candy Crush Saga is slightly different, whether you have to get rid of all the sweets encased in jelly within a certain number of moves, achieve a certain point-score within a given amount of time, or drop the various ingredients for a tasty recipe to the bottom of the grid. It requires a degree of logic that keeps you entertained through Candy Crush's more than 100 levels, which encompass various 'episodes' such as 'Lemonade Lake' and 'Candy Factory'.
You're awarded up to three stars for your performance within each level, and you can return to any previous level in hope of achieving a perfect score.
Candy Crush Saga offers you five chances to screw up and, once you've run out of lives, you must either put down the game and wait for your health to be replenished, or stock up by begging your Facebook friends for more or forking out real cash. This becomes a problem only when you get reasonably far into Candy Crush and the difficulty ramps up, at which point the countless entirely free alternatives start to become attractive.
Various upgrades can be unlocked in the Yeti Shop: the Charm of Life bosts your extra lives store from five to eight, but costs £11.99; Charm of Stripes lets you paint stripes (the equivalent of a four-sweet match) on any candy once per game for £27.99; and Charm of Frozen Time makes time stand still on time-limited levels, costing £17.49. Playing the game this way can be expensive but, unless you have a serious sweet-tooth, you needn't part with any money. If you're giving this game to a child to play, you'd be wise to disable in-app purchases in your device's settings.
What's really neat about Candy Crush Saga, though, is the ability to pick it up and continue your game wherever you are and on whatever device you have to hand. Simply connect via your Facebook account and continue the saga as you switch from PC to tablet to smartphone. Facebook interaction also enables you to compete with friends, although in general terms we aren't keen on any game that encourages you to spam your social-networking contacts.
This cross-platform support is partly what makes Candy Crush Saga so addictive: when your phone runs out of juice you just pick up the tablet, and when that squeals 'charge me' you turn on the PC. That one's most likely plugged into the mains and, if it dies, you really should get out more.
However, Candy Crush Saga is also popular with users because it's simple enough that anyone can pick it up and get started without instruction (although help is provided in the form of in-game tutorials and a help guide), yet sufficiently difficult that you won't simply breeze through the game in an hour.
Once you get to level 35 Candy Crush begins charging 69p per episode. The only way to get around this is to link the game to your Facebook account and pester your friends.