Candy Crush Saga is a new iOS release from King.com. The game has been available on Facebook since April of this year — we reviewed it back then — but now follows Bubble Witch Saga in making the jump to the iOS platform. Like its predecessor, it is a free download from the App Store, and uses Facebook Connect to sync progress between platforms. The app also includes cross-promotional advertisements for the Bubble Witch Saga app while loading.
Candy Crush Saga’s basic gameplay will be immediately familiar to anyone who has played a Bejeweled-style “match-3” puzzler in the last few years. The basic mechanic involves swapping colored sweets around on a grid in order to create horizontal or vertical lines of three or more like-colored sweets. To cater to color-blind players, each sweet has its own distinctive visual design, making them easily recognizable. Much like in Bejeweled and its numerous rivals, matching four or more like-colored sweets in a single move creates special items that have particular effects on gameplay — clearing larger areas on the board or all of the sweets of a particular color.
Candy Crush Saga features a number of twists on the basic “match-3” formula. Like King.com’s other “Saga” games, it is based on a linear series of increasingly-difficult levels rather than fast-paced “Blitz” sessions. Players have a limited number of “lives” to complete as many levels as possible, with one being lost every time a level is failed. Levels have specific objectives — in some cases, the player might be tasked with beating point targets, in others they might be required to clear “jelly” from the board by matching lines atop it.
Each level has its own leaderboard, allowing players to compete against their Facebook friends for high scores. Thanks to Facebook Connect, this leaderboard persists between the desktop and mobile versions of the game, allowing players to compete wherever they are, and whatever device they are using.
Monetization comes from various in-app purchases. Players may top up their lives for $0.99 if they have run out — they also replenish over time — or may bump up their maximum limit by paying $16.99. A “Charm of Stripes” powerup is also available for $39.99, providing players with a powerful once-per-game powerup. Various “booster” items may also be purchased before each level — these are consumable items rather than permanent upgrades and are consequently significantly cheaper. Similarly, items may be purchased during a level to get out of sticky situations.
Candy Crush Saga has been well-adapted to the iOS platform. Rather than simply porting the game in its original format to the screen of iOS devices, it has been properly optimized for mobile displays, and looks particularly good on Retina display devices. The game’s Facebook connectivity makes use of iOS 6’s built-in social functionality rather than the external Facebook app, meaning the game’s social experience is all relatively frictionless — it is possible to play the game without Facebook, but with the simplicity of setting it up, there’s really very little reason for players to do so short of not actually having a Facebook account in the first place.
Candy Crush Saga continues King.com’s confident strides into the mobile market. With both Bubble Witch Saga and this title, the company has shown it has a good understanding of what makes a quality mobile game, and provided evidence that they are willing and able to make properly-optimized, polished ports of their most popular titles for mobile platforms. The future looks bright for King.com and its lineup of popular titles, in short — and their success will only continue as their other titles inevitably make the jump to mobile platforms.
As a new release, Candy Crush Saga is not yet listed on the App Store leaderboards — the current listing under the same name is for a clone that has since been renamed. Check back shortly to follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for mobile and social games and developers.
A great mobile adaptation of one of King.com’s best Facebook titles.