Game Reviews

Candy Crush Soda Saga

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Candy Crush Soda Saga

When the inevitable nuclear /zombie/ killer-space-mice apocalypse arrives, only three things will remain.

Cockroaches, Matthew McConaughey's adamantium-coated teeth, and the 1,235,884,345.5 smartphones loaded with Candy Crush Saga, scattered among the world's ashes. Love it or loathe it, King's saccharine match-three puzzler isn't going away any time soon.

The original Candy Crush Saga wasn't so much a game as a cultural phenomenon, prompting millions of people to play mobile games in the same way the pied piper once charmed children from the town of Hamelin.

So it's no wonder it's been all scratchy-heads over at King headquarters. How do you top a game that's become so pervasive, it might as well come pre-loaded onto all new devices?

That is the question

The answer, apparently, is that you don't even try. Instead you launch a virtually identical game, stick the word "soda" in the strapline, and pump it to the masses as a related but unique title.

Perhaps that's a little unfair. Internally, King has made no secret of the fact that Candy Crush Soda Saga is not intended as a sequel. The game's sugar-coated world is instantly recognisable, populated by Willy Wonka-esque levels laid out like a board game.

Once more, your job is to match three of the same coloured candies to clear the grid. Special power-ups can be gained by clearing combos of sweets in one fell swoop, and those pesky obstacles have made a return.

Cupcake holders, ice blocks, and licorice laces lock away vital pieces of the puzzle, and will require careful strategising (and a fair amount of teeth grinding) to overcome.

Still, there are some differences. The most notable, funnily enough, is the soda. Making matches causes the grid to fill with fizzy purple froth that causes any candy not weighed down to float upwards instead of falling down.

Not only does this switch up any matching opportunities, it inverts the usual match-3 mechanic that making combos low down on the grid will increase your odds of subsequent moves.

There's a slew of other new game modes too, including “Bubble Bear,” “Frosted Bear,” and “Honey Bear,” that all require you to free gummy bears trapped in various sticky substances.

Each level has been transported onto bigger gaming grids with scrolling screens, not dissimilar to what you'd find in Diamond Digger.

Oh, and you play as a girl called Kimmy. Not Tiffy.

Up to their old Twix

King has puffed its chest out proudly and called all this innovation, and for now we'll only lightly prick it with our pin of cynicism. It's not quite a reinvention, but it is a face-lift.

The new gameplay mechanics provide a satisfying shake of twists on the familiar format, with each gorgeously rendered level distinct from the last.

The variety means that you're just as likely to promise “this is my last level for the night” as you are to say “oh, just one more chocolate then,” before face-planting into an entire tub of Cadbury's.

The trouble is each level's layout is randomly generated, meaning that sometimes luck matters more than skill.

The chirpy music may attempt to appease, and the cartoonish graphics may delight, but at some point or another you're going to be forced to fork out for an extra set of lives or board-clearing lollipop hammer.

In other words, Soda Saga is a classic King release. It's compelling, colourful, and finds it as easy to empty your bank balance with IAPs as a master thief does taking candy from a baby.

So if you're a card carrying member of the "Candy Crush Hate Party," lock down your Facebook feeds and fortify your phones.

With more than 135 levels available at launch and new ones added every week, despite being a syrupy surrogate of the original release, it's still a must-have puzzle game for everyone else.

Candy Crush Soda Saga is the next chapter in a match-three epic – and we'd bet our last jelly bean that the story won't end here.

Candy Crush Soda Saga

Candy Crush Soda Saga is the saccharinely sweet embodiment of the age old adage