Crushed: Confessions of a Candyholic

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“You have to download this game. It’ll drive you crazy!” my friend told me. When I first installed Candy Crush Saga on my iPad, I thought it was just another “Bejeweled” knock-off, except cuter, with its glossy candies and Willy Wonka-inspired levels.

As I started playing, I thought to myself, “This is easy. I’m actually getting a bit bored.” That was until I hit Level 20 and discovered that underneath the cutesy, sugary-sweet facade of Candy Crush lay the road to hell. Fair warning: If you’ve never played it and want to keep your sanity intact, never install it on your smartphone.

As you progress through the game’s levels, you are treated to different challenges that would seem implausible until you see some dratted friend of yours surpass the level—with an unbelievable high score to boot.

There are levels where you are given only a certain number of moves, and you are required to clear blocks of “jelly,” while other levels include diabolical roadblocks, like blobs of chocolate that multiply to eat up your moves.

To make things worse, you are afforded only five lives per turn, after which the evil game makes you wait 30 long minutes for the next life. The marshmallow test has nothing on the wait Candy Crush makes you endure until you can play again.

The game is free to install, but comes with add-on purchases. Want to play some more but all your friends won’t give you lives? For $0.99 or approximately P40, you can purchase an extra set of lives to keep playing. No friends who want to give you tickets to progress to the next level? You can move on to the next level, again for $0.99 (a friend who has issues with Facebook buys level advancements because she doesn’t want to connect her gameplay with Facebook).

Can you almost taste the sweet victory of sugar crush but your moves have run out? $0.99 buys you an extra five moves. After a week of being stuck on level 70, I finally caved in and bought myself an extra five moves, but the victory felt hollow. It didn’t have the screaming satisfaction of clearing a level you’ve been stuck at for days.

The addiction to the game has reached epidemic proportions. I met up with an old friend from high school and found ourselves animatedly discussing Candy Crush—I told her about Googling strategies and techniques, while she confessed fiddling with her device’s clock to gain extra lives (her iPad’s other functions have become screwed up because of this, but she doesn’t care).

All sorts of crazy anecdotes pop up on social networks—one refuses to share her Candy Crush account with her mom (“Sayang ’yung lives!”), the mom of another sends texts to her kids to request for lives, (“’Nak, paki-send ng lives sa Candy Crush, now na”) while another found herself annoyed at her friend for her lack of reciprocity (“Grabe, kung maka-request ng lives, every hour, pero siya ’di namimigay ng lives!”).

I must admit, even I have my own crazy Candy Crush anecdote. An old friend (whom I didn’t like so much) kept giving me lives, and, before I knew it, I felt myself thinking fondly of him and actually considering reaching out to ask how he was doing, all because his gifts extended my playing time on the game. If all these sound familiar to you, a warm welcome to you, fellow Candy Crush addict.

Candy Crush is free to download. Get it from the AppStore (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

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