Without The Sarcasm http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com Insights. Analysis. Answers. Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:22:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Best of the Fiver | Winter 2014 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/best-fiver-winter-2014/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/best-fiver-winter-2014/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 23:22:02 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5981 With the Steam winter sale right around the corner, let’s take a look back at the back half of 2014 and I’ll pick the 5 best $5 games I played during that period!

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone!

Take these Steam Sale tips and tricks! For real, they will save you money.

Number 5: Goat Simulator

Goat Simulator

Featured in: July 2014

Why it got the nod: Goat Simulator is a game that is unashamed about its weirdness. It stands tall among a sea of buggy, early access shovelware by being unabashedly crap. It’s a parody of a variety of other games. It has no right to be any good. It should be a one-trick pony that is fun for a few minutes but then quickly falls apart.

Except, it’s not. It’s actually a pretty fun game. It blends some of the more entertaining parts of trick based games and destruction based games. It sets interesting goals and gives you a wide array of ways to accomplish them. It’s got a ton of easter eggs and fun little references and moments. It has a wealth of mutators that mod the game in interesting ways. Finally, it’s been patched several times to drastically increase the amount of content available.

Goat Simulator isn’t a game for everyone, but if you can relax and enjoy the ride, it can be a ton of fun.

Get it: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Number 4: Lego Marvel Superheroes

Cult of the Fiver: LEGO Marvel

Featured in: October 2014

Why it got the nod: Movie and comic tie-in games are a bit hit or miss. Often they’re total garbage and fail to do service to their source material. It’s a real shame, too, as many characters and stories from comics and movies would be interesting to experience in video game form.

Lego Marvel Superheroes manages to be several good movie and comic book tie in games at once. Despite the kiddie exterior, and the sometimes uneven quality of Lego games, Lego Marvel Superheroes manages to be fun and entertaining almost completely from start to finish. All the major Marvel properties are featured, with a roster of hundreds of characters.

Missions team up various Marvel superheroes against a wide variety of Marvel villains. Outside of the missions, there’s a whole open world style city to explore, including a SHIELD helicarrier and all the major New York Marvel hotspots.

If you can deal with the kid-friendly exterior, Lego Marvel Superheroes may just be the best Marvel title in recent history, as sad as that is. C’mon Marvel! You guys have a massive cinematic universe, and the best you can do video game-wise is a Lego title!?

Get it: Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Number 3: Papers, Please

Papers, Please

Featured in: July 2014

Why it got the nod: Papers, Please is a socially conscious game about manning a fictional Eastern European border checkpoint. It’s a game where you have to starve your family in order to win. It’s a game where the “right thing” is not always clear, and often just plain doesn’t exist. It tells an uncomfortable story about the way people dehumanize each other.

All of that really means that it’s an “important” game. It’s a game you should want to play, although that doesn’t really answer the question of whether or not it’s actually worth playing. However, despite some occasional frustration, I generally liked the gameplay of Papers, Please. I think it’s a unique game that manages to be challenging and even fun despite the depressing and oppressive social message.

Get it: Steam | Humble

Number 2: The Wolf Among Us

Cult of the Fiver: Wolf Among Us

Featured in: October 2014

Why it got the nod: Telltale has been consistently putting out high-quality adventure experiences lately. The Wolf Among Us is cut from the same mold as their acclaimed The Walking Dead series. The art and the gameplay are similar, with both games echoing their comic book roots.

Where Walking Dead focuses on a survival horror story, Wolf Among Us tells a more noir detective tale. A murder mystery forms the central plot thread around which the story winds. The cast of characters are all lifted from classic fables, often twisted to fit a more adult theme. Bigby Wolf is the central protagonist. He takes the basic template of Little Red Riding Hood’s big bad wolf and mixes elements of superheroes like Wolverine, the Hulk, and Batman.

The end result is a compelling story filled with interesting, unique characters and tense situations. It’s an immensely satisfying experience from the opening moments of the first episode to the final showdown between the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”

Get it: Steam | Humble

Number 1: One Way Heroics


Featured in: August 2014

Why it got the nod: It’s rare that I obsess about a video game enough to play it after I’ve beaten it. It’s rarer still that I opt to play a game to get all the achievements. One Way Heroics is one of a very short list of games that I got to the end of the achievements and still didn’t want to put it down.

One Way Heroics is a roguelike RPG stripped to the studs. It’s everything fun about the genre without any of the frustration or grinding. For instance, although the game world is randomized, the game will tell you the seed and let you replay it should you fail. If you find something awesome that your current class can’t use, you have the chance to save it when the game ends for a future playthrough.

Daily, there are “special seeds” given that produce experiences that are otherwise relatively rare. A game of One Way Heroics can take hours, but often it can be cleared in less than an hour if you know what you’re doing or you play on an easy difficulty.

There are a bunch of achievements to get, and a bunch of extra content to unlock once you’ve cleared the challenges the game initially presents. Between all of the various challenges, leaderboards, unlockables, and the procederally generated worlds, One Way Heroics has a lot to offer roguelike RPG enthusiasts.

Get it: Steam

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Best Minecraft Gifts – Minecraft Gift Guide! http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/best-minecraft-gifts-minecraft-gift-guide/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/best-minecraft-gifts-minecraft-gift-guide/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:22:53 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5958 Some people are just hard to shop for. If you’ve got a friend, family member, or significant other that’s really into Minecraft, but you have no idea what would be good to get for them, this is the guide for you! In my Minecraft Gift Guide, I’ll lay out the best gift ideas for the Minecraft obsessed person (or people) in your life.

Minecraft Gift Guide

Minecraft Gift Guide: More Minecraft!

If you’re not savvy to the world of Minecraft, you might not know that there are actually three major editions of the game. Possibly the best gift for your favorite Minecrafter is another copy of the game! Those who play on PC or console may love to get the mobile version for playing anywhere. Those who play on console or mobile may also be interested in getting the fully moddable PC version, to find out how it all began. The full run down on each version is as follows:

Minecraft Gift Guide PC Version

The PC version has been around the longest, and has the most features. There are a lot of things you can download for the PC version which extend the replay value of the game. The PC version of Minecraft is easily the definitive version. If the Minecraft lover in your life doesn’t own this version, it’s an easy thing to recommend. You can grab it at the Minecraft official site and the current price is around $26.

Minecraft Gift Guide Minecraft Console Version

The console version is available for several different consoles, and while it lacks mod support and some of the most recent additions to the game, it’s still a blast. One major difference is that the console version support local split-screen multiplayer which means that a whole family or group of friends can sit down and play together. If there are Xboxes or Playstations in your house and a whole gaggle of Minecraft lovers, consider grabbing it from Amazon. Just make sure you pick the version that matches the console they own!

Minecraft Gift Guide Minecraft Mobile Version

Finally, the mobile version is available for both Apple and Android devices. It’s the least feature rich of the various Minecraft versions, but on the plus side you can take it with you wherever you go! Grab it for Android devices from Google Play or the Amazon Appstore. You can get it via iTunes by clicking here.

Minecraft Gift Guide: Games in the Same Vein as Minecraft

With Minecraft’s runaway success, there have been quite a few imitators and variations on its innovative formula. There are a ton of copycats, though, so I’ve sorted out a few games that are similar and worth playing. Any of these would make a great gift for the Minecraft enthusiasts.

Minecraft Gift Guide Terraria

First up is Terraria. The short description for Terraria is “it’s like Minecraft but in two dimensions.” There’s a lot of differences between the two games, and I personally prefer it to regular Minecraft on most occasions. It can be a little scary for smaller kids – kind of “Halloween scary” stuff like skeletons and zombies.

Terraria is available for Xbox 360 and also for PC.

Minecraft Gift Guide Starbound

Another game very similar to Terraria is Starbound. Unlike Terraria and Minecraft’s focus on a single world, Starbound is more about flying around between various planets and exploring them for treasure. Starbound is currently only available for PC.

Minecraft Gift Guide Kerbal Space Program

Finally, I’ll branch out a bit and suggest Kerbal Space Program. Kerbal Space Program is all about building rockets to explore the space near the planet Kerbal. While this is vastly different from the premise of Minecraft and Terraria, most of the folks who get really into Minecraft enjoy Kerbal Space Program immensely. If strapping rockets to stuff, building spaceships, and watching them fly sounds like something that they’d find fun, you should consider gifting them a copy of **the PC version of Kerbal Space Program.

Minecraft Gift Guide: Minecraft LEGO

Minecraft and LEGO have a lot in common, so it’s no surprise that there are officially licensed Minecraft LEGO sets available for purchase. If your kids play Minecraft and you feel like they are “plugged in” to it a little too often, Minecraft LEGOs are a great way for them to get away from screen time and still flex their creative muscles. Many parents that are “all thumbs” when it comes to video games may find LEGOs a nice way to engage in their kids interests and still reminisce about the good old days (when LEGOs were mostly primary colors).

Minecraft Gift Guide The Cave Lego

The Cave is a good starter set, it’s one of the less expensive ones. We are talking about Minecraft and LEGO, though, so it’s still somewhat pricey.

Minecraft Gift Guide The Farm Lego

Similar to this is the Farm set which includes some animals and some crops!

Minecraft Gift Guide Micro World

There’s also a whole “Micro” line like the Micro World set. These are a bit smaller in scale and have fewer pieces, but they’re still fun nonetheless. That set is actually a bestseller, according to Amazon!

Minecraft Gift Guide: Minecraft Toys

If you’re just looking for something small, a Minecraft-themed stocking stuffer perhaps, then there are a wealth of Minecraft toys available that make great gifts.

Minecraft Gift Guide Wall Torch

I personally think this Minecraft Wall Torch is pretty cool. It makes a decent night light, although it doesn’t automatically turn off.

Minecraft Gift Guide Redstone Nightlight

The Minecraft Redstone Block makes a decent night light as well. Although it can’t be hung from the wall, it does automatically turn itself off.

Minecraft Gift Guide Minecraft Pig

On the “cute but not particularly practical” side of the scale, there’s a wealth of Minecraft-inspired plush toys, like this Minecraft Baby Pig. They’re inexpensive enough to round out another gift, or for that one niece/nephew who you have to buy for but you don’t really like.

Minecraft Gift Guide: Conclusion

Despite how tricky it may seem at first, there are a ton of gifts out there that a Minecraft fan could enjoy. Do you have any suggestions for items we missed? Leave us a comment and share your favorites!

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Forcing Steam Categories to Sync Between Computers http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/forcing-steam-categories-sync-computers/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/forcing-steam-categories-sync-computers/#comments Sat, 06 Dec 2014 00:01:49 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5952 After spending a considerable amount of time messing with the categories for all my Steam games, I logged in this morning on my desktop to find my work had been erased! Luckily, my laptop was still showing all my Steam categories. Using a combination of tools, I was able to restore my categories from the laptop’s backup. In this article, I’ll show you how to back up and restore your Steam categories, and force your Steam categories to sync across multiple computers.

First off, this article assumes you have Steam on one computer where the categories are correct. If you lost your categories and don’t have any other Steam installs, this method is unlikely to work. However, you can still probably learn something about how categories are stored and synced, which will allow you to back up your categories to avoid this situation in the future.

According to rallion in this Reddit thread, the file where categories are stored is:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\userdata\[id]\7\remote\sharedconfig.vdf

The ID number appears to be random, and didn’t seem to have any relation to my Steam ID. Obviously, if you installed Steam elsewhere, this folder might be in a different location.

Steam uploads this file to the Steam cloud before exiting, and downloads this file from the Steam cloud if the cloud version is newer than the version on your local PC, or if the file is missing.

So step one is to back up this file on the machine where the categories are correct. If you have a lot of games categorized, and your categories have been corrupted, chances are this file is going to be relatively small on the machine where things are messed up, and relatively large on the machine where they are correct.

In a perfect world, the solution to this problem is to simply:

  1. Log out of Steam where the categories are incorrect
  2. Log out of Steam where the categories are correct (thereby sending the right sharedconfig.vdf to the cloud)
  3. Log into Steam where the categories are incorrect (thereby downloading the right sharedconfig.vdf from the cloud)

However, chances are good that if the sharedconfig.vdf file got messed up on one PC, the “bad” file is actually newer than the “good” file – so Steam will send the bad file into the cloud, where it will override the “good” file the next time you log in! Oh noes!

The solution to this is to make the “good” file seem like it’s been edited more recently. There are many ways to do this, but I did it from the command line. Just open cmd.exe on the PC with the “good” file, cd to the directory with sharedconfig.vdf and then run:

copy /b sharedconfig.vdf +,,

Note the funky “plus sign and two commas” at the end of that – it’s not a glitch, it actually tells copy to just touch the file, making it seem newer than it is. (Check out the docs for copy here)

Now you can log out on the “good” PC, which will upload this file to the cloud. Then you can log back in on the “bad” PC to grab the more updated, correct, cloud copy.

Hope that helps save your Steam categories from extinction!

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Cult of the Fiver | November 2014 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cult-fiver-november-2014/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/cult-fiver-november-2014/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 01:08:24 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5937 OlliOlli, head home for the holidays with Gone Home, reclaim the homelands with Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, escape in-laws... err.. zombies in Teleglitch, and stuff ourselves with bullets in Tower of Guns.]]> Thanksgiving 2014 is upon us! Let’s show everyone our l33t moves in OlliOlli, head home for the holidays with Gone Home, reclaim the homelands with Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, escape in-laws… err.. zombies in Teleglitch, and stuff ourselves with bullets in Tower of Guns.


Cult of the Fiver: OlliOlli

OlliOlli is the natural (d)evolution of games like SSX and Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Trick down challenging two-dimensional, linear skateboard paths across dozens of different courses, with challenges, collectibles, and multiple game modes to play.

OlliOlli is worth your $5 because… if you like these sorts of skate/snowboarding games, OlliOlli is a fun way to scratch that tricky itch. If you’re new to the party, it can be a decent way to get into the genre without the added complexity of those titles. There’s a plethora of courses and modes to try out, and the soundtrack is awesome.

But don’t pay full price for OlliOlli, since… it’s punishingly difficult. Just finishing some of the later courses on the basic game mode can be an exercise in frustration. Despite my previous experiences with the genre and a willingness to replay the same tracks over and over again, I was still unable to finish the game.

Store page(s): Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Pressing A right before landing (or down right before grinding) gives you a “perfect” landing, gives you a short green glow, and most importantly increases your speed slightly.
  • If you’re having trouble with a track, consider hitting the landing button early – you can still get a “sick” or “OK” landing by pressing A or down pretty early, and that can help somewhat in areas where you need to go a bit slower or where the timing is difficult.
  • Staying up as high as you can on grind rails tends to make the game somewhat easier. A lot of obstacles can be avoided simply by staying off the ground.

Gone Home

Cult of the Fiver: Gone Home

Gone Home is the story of a suburban American family, as viewed by the eldest daughter who is returning from some time abroad. Although the game is played from a first-person perspective, the game hews closer to an adventure game that has very few puzzles.

Gone Home is worth your $5 because… it’s a unique experience, with a touching story. Despite the low level of interactivity in the environment, it still manages to pull you in with its atmosphere and the complex yet relatable story the game is trying to tell.

But don’t pay full price for Gone Home, since… it’s not really a game in the traditional sense of the word. It’s more along the lines of interactive fiction. If you’re looking for something with deep game mechanics or with a lot of replay value, this just isn’t it.

Store page(s): Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • There are a ton of useless objects in the game. If you pick something up and it doesn’t immediately look interesting, chances are it’s just there for flavor.
  • Nevertheless, touch interesting objects, flip them over, and be on the lookout for audio diaries.
  • Some interesting stuff can be found under beds and in trash cans…

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

Cult of the Fiver: Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet

Part Metroidvania and part dual stick shooter, ITSP tells the story of a lone UFO attempting to free its homeworld from an invasion of shadowy, tentacled beasts. Explore the planet, collecting upgrades and new weapons! Fight tough bosses and solve interesting environmental puzzles!

Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet is worth your $5 because… it nails the exploration elements of Metroidvania games, with interesting environments and fun puzzles to solve. The art style is really interesting and unique. The various upgrades are fun to mess with, and for the most part feel unique.

But don’t pay full price for Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, since… combat’s really not that fun. I found myself running away more often than not. Sometimes checkpoints are really close together, and other times they feel too spaced apart. This game was designed for controllers, but there are a variety of weapons that would be helpful to have on a quick-key system.

Store page(s): Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Scanning obstacles with your radar dish marks them on your map, as well as telling you what specific tool/weapon is used to interact with it.
  • The saw blade weapon is very useful in combat. I’d almost say it’s the most powerful weapon in the game against most foes.
  • Collecting certain hidden powerups will boost the power of the “gun” weapon, while others will increase your maximum health. Both of these are very useful for survival in the late game.


Cult of the Fiver: Teleglitch

You are a low-level worker for some faceless future megacorp, on a science station researching military mutants and also long distance teleportation. Predictably, things go horribly wrong and you find yourself trapped with a bunch of killer… everything, trying hard to survive despite the aforementioned “everything” trying to kill you. The game plays as a top-down dual-stick style shooter with survival horror elements.

Teleglitch is worth your $5 because… it’s a unique take on survival horror, roguelikes, and dual stick shooter genres. Surprisingly, this combination of disparate genres produces a very compelling game. The game isn’t scary, per se, but it is tense owing to the limited ammo and inventory capacity.

But don’t pay full price for Teleglitch, since… it can be frustrating to start over every time you die, although getting to certain levels activates the ability to get an advanced start. Despite the roguelike trappings, there are a lot of fixed elements in the game. For instance, the first level always has a shotgun and sticky launcher you can find. There is a limited roster of rooms that are just randomly arranged every time you play a leve.

Store page(s): Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • There are secret rooms hidden on each level. Look for areas where you can kind of see through the walls, then shoot the weak wall to destroy it.
  • If you don’t aim prior to pressing fire while holding explosives, you’ll put them on the ground rather than throwing them.
  • The way your character holds the gun effects the way in which shots will fly once fired. Keep this in mind so that you can more carefully aim.
  • You can eat canned meat to get your health above 100%. The empty cans can be crafted into plates that can be used for armor.

Tower of Guns

Cult of the Fiver: Tower of Guns

Tower of Guns is a classic style first person shooter with somewhat randomized levels and RPG elements. Each level is a series of rooms, packed to the gills with robots that shoot lots and lots of bullets. At the end is a boss that takes a bunch of punishment to take down.

Tower of Guns is worth your $5 because… it harkens back to the Quake era of first person shooters, where shooting stuff and running around like a crazy person was the ultimate in gaming entertainment. The somewhat randomized levels and RPG elements increase the fun of the game. Making progress towards unlocks and a fresh experience every time will keep you coming back for more.

But don’t pay full price for Tower of Guns, since… the randomness can sometimes bog the game down. For instance, many secrets require that you have extensive aerial maneuverability. If you haven’t found jump upgrades, though, you’ll be left out in the cold. Being limited to one gun per run is kind of a bummer. The game really needs a high score or hall of fame feature to make repeated game completions more interesting.

Store page(s): Amazon w/Steam DRM | Steam | Humble

Quick Tips:

  • Most of the guns will feel underpowered at the lowest levels. Collect blue items to level them up and unlock their destructive potential!
  • While most pickups time out after a while, the tokens, items, and weapon mods do not.
  • Sometimes it’s a good strategy to move around the room and take well-timed shots, while other times it is good to find a quiet corner to snipe from.
  • Many turrets can’t rotate completely. It’s possible to get behind certain enemies to make it easier to defeat them.
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Candy Crush Soda Saga Diaries: Level 16 to 20 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-diaries-level-16-to-20/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-diaries-level-16-to-20/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 19:14:25 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5915 Man, the difficulty of Candy Crush Soda Saga has sure ramped up quick, hasn’t it? Just wait until we hit level 18, where the rubber really meets the road. Let’s see if we can make it to 20 without throwing our phones in frustration.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 16

Level 16 is really funky. The level looks like a spiral, and the candy moves around it in a spiral pattern. This can make predicting the way candy will fall super tricky. It’s like there are three extra long columns that run the whole length of the spiral.


As with previous frosting levels, there is way more frosting than there are bears. Keep an eye on the color of the frosting, as I mention in my Candy Crush Soda Saga guide so you know which squares need to go and which are red herrings.

The wrapped candy really shines here, with the weird way the candy flows. The fish is again underpowered, as it will seek out frosting that is pretty useless.

My first run through this, I lost a good 4 or 5 lives. My second time through, I cleared it with 3 stars on the first try. There’s a lot of luck involved, but don’t give up!

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 17

Wow, five bears! And no soda! This level looks weird to start out with. At the beginning, you can make a fish + fish combo, which releases 3 fish. Each new section of the level is intended to teach you a fish special combo. There’s no way to lose, though. Just keep following the hints and you’ll be through in no time flat.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 18

Back to frosting and bears, this time with more licorice cages. Remember that these caged candies can’t move, and have to be broken a total of twice.


There’s a few coloring candies hiding out here too, so chances are this whole board is going to go up in a massive explosion at some point. Try to use these in special candy combos if you can, but it can be tricky to get other special candies into the far left and right columns.

Late in the level, you can try going for fish candies or fish + fish combos if you’ve got just a few squares of frosting left to clear. It’s a bit luck-of-the-draw if they’ll break the frosting you need, but a last minute Hail Mary fish has saved me more than once.

This is the first really hard level, in my opinion. Plan to spend some time or some boosts here in order to get the luck you need to win.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 19

Now we’ve switched back to bears and candy strings. All these level changes are making my head spin… :P

In the first section, there’s a premade striped candy match ready to go. That will shoot the bear up a whole screen, but first you may want to make any special candies that you can on this screen before you go. The top two rows of this screen move on, so if you can put a color bomb or something there, it’s probably worth it. Failing that, you could also benefit from some fish in this next section.

Now we’re approaching the top of the soda, so breaking soda bottles is the most important thing. You can match candy above the soda line, or make fish wherever you can. Much like a lot of the levels so far, winning this one is going to take a combination of luck and a lot of special candies.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 20

Ah, this is a pretty typical Candy Crush scenario – cake blocking an area you need to match in, plus a board area small enough to make special candy matches tricky. There are 16 bears of various sizes, but here again not all the frosting is important.

Focus on breaking the cake so that candy can pour into the right side. The right side is upside down (for whatever reason…) but it’s mainly going to mess with your head rather than change the strategy.

Horizontally striped candy can break frosting on both halves of the level, so that’s a priority. Wrapped is slightly less powerful here, and fish are downright useless until you’re very close to the end. I actually came down to just two frosting squares on my last move, and only one blocking a bear. I matched a fish and it picked the wrong one :( Another life down…

Next up on Candy Crush Soda Diaries: To be continued…!

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Candy Crush Soda Saga Diaries: Level 11 to 15 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-diaries-level-11-to-15/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-diaries-level-11-to-15/#comments Sun, 16 Nov 2014 19:11:01 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5913 Now that the early levels are out of the way, it’s time for Candy Crush Soda Saga to up the challenge level a bit. In this guide, we’ll cover levels 11 through 15 and break through some trickier candy puzzlers.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 11

Level 11 throws us a curveball by featuring 2 bears to rescue. The first one is blocked by a checkerboard of cake, but a few quick matches ought to solve that problem.

Then we move down to where the second bear is, and there is a quick striped + wrapped combo ready-made for us. How kind of them! Then there are a couple of color bombs that can be used if you can get the cake out of the way.

Notice how the screen tracks the bear? If you don’t free the color bombs before moving past this point, you’ll lose the opportunity to use them.

This one might trip you up for a life or two, but just focus on that cake and you’ll be through in no time.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 12

Level 12 is a wide-open board with 3 bears lurking under some thick frosting. Not all this frosting has to go, however. The bears themselves are only one square by two squares, so most of the board is just filler.

If you read my Candy Crush Soda Saga guide you know what to look for in order to spot the bears. You’ll have to clear the first match of the frosting in order to spot them, but that’s a lot easier than just clearing all of it!

Focus on making special candy combos that break a wide part of the board, like wrapped + striped. That will help quite a bit more than simple match-3 moves, or even the fish on this level.

Overall this level isn’t so bad, and it sets the stage for similar but harder levels to come.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 13

Another bear level – this one is pretty close to level 12 except that it’s full of cake. There’s a premade wrapped + color bomb combo here, but I’d suggest waiting a bit before using it if you can. If you know your special candy combos from our special candy guide, you know that color bomb + wrapped turns all of the same color into wrapped candies and sets them off.


Sometimes when I play this level, the wrapped candy is the same color as the two candies embedded in the cake, but sometimes it’s not. If it is, I find that to be a big advantage.

Beyond the initial few moves, the goal here is just to burrow downward and expose the two giant gummy bears behind the frosting. Wrapped candies can be used to great effect to dig holes into the cake and let you get matches lower down. Again, fish candies are kind of not that great, unless you mix them with wrapped candy. They will then seek out cake or frosting and blow it up.

There’s not enough moves on this level to clear it without a lot of special candies and special candy combos, but this isn’t as tight a level as some that will be coming later. You may fail a few times, but stick with it and you can win!

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 14

Back to the bears and candy strings again! This time there are some pre-made special candies to play with. Hitting the fish will cause the soda to break, which is going to be a requirement if you want to get those bears high enough to clear the string.

However, the major problem here is all that cake. It’s everywhere. Until some of it is cleared, big special candy matches are all but impossible. Try to clear this as fast as possible, and focus on some special candy combos to speed the process up.

Once the soda level is high enough and the cake is out of the way, it’s a straight shot. With so few moves though, this is going to be a close one.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 15

Another bear and candy string level, but this time the soda level is critically low! The soda bottles are blocked by cages. This is a level where the fish special candy shines. If you can manage to make a lot of fish candies, or even a fish + color bomb candy combo, you’ll be kicking butt early.


Keep in mind here again that the bear will move on and leave your special candies behind if you’re not careful – try to use the special candies quickly to avoid this!

Priority one is those soda bottles. If you’re all out of soda, focus on getting the bear up by breaking candy that is in its way.

Next up on Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 16 to 20!

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Candy Crush Soda Saga: Tips, Tricks, and Guide! (Part 2) http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-tips-tricks-guide-part-2/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-tips-tricks-guide-part-2/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 23:39:20 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5895 Here in part 2 of my guide to Candy Crush Soda Saga, we’ll dig a bit deeper into the new stuff that’s been added over Candy Crush Saga. Soda, gummy bears, and fish candies, oh my!

I Caught You A Delicious Bass

One of the most interesting and often most important new candies in Soda Saga is the fish candy. If you read the special candies guide, you know you make a fish candy by putting together a square of 4 (or sometimes more) candies.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Fish Candy

The fish is unique because it will seek out important squares and break the candy inside them. One of the core issues on many levels is that you’ve got to make matches in tricky spots – corners, for example. Often making a square somewhere else and then matching the fish candy is easier and costs fewer moves.

Do be warned, the fish doesn’t always seek the squares you might want it to. For instance, on a “find the hidden bears” level, it may break frosting where there are no bears!

Candy Crush Soda Saga Tip Generally, the fish candy is best when there are only a few “important” squares on the board. Usually this means if you have a choice between a fish candy and another special candy (ie, a striped candy) you may want to pick the fish if it’s late in the level, or the striped if it’s still early.

You Sunk My Gummy Bear!

There are a couple of new gummy bear related game types in Candy Crush Soda Saga, so let’s go over some tips for these.

“Find all the bears” is a new objective type for Candy Crush Soda Saga. On the surface, it looks similar to “break all the jelly” levels from Candy Crush Saga. However, it’s subtly different. In some levels of Candy Crush Soda Saga, not every frosting square covers a bear.

You can tell which squares do block gummy bearsby a couple of different methods.

  • One I call the “battleship” method – exposing part of a gummy bear will tell you where the rest is. Gummy bears only come in certain shapes an sizes, the smallest being 2 squares by 1 square. If you find part of a gummy bear, you know where more of it is.
  • The other is the “shower glass” method. When frosting only has one match left, you can see the gummy bear underneath, if there is one. It turns the square a vaguely blueish/greenish tint that squares without bears don’t get.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Frosting Types

From left to right, we have:

  • a red candy on top of a frosting square with NO gummy bear
  • an orange candy on top of a frosting square that is too thick to see if there’s a gummy or not
  • A yellow candy on top of a frosting square WITH a gummy bear
  • A red candy on top of a gummy bear, with no frosting

See the difference?

The other bear-related level is one where you must get the bears above the candy necklace line(s) on the level. Here, the soda level comes into play. Speaking of soda…

Cola Chameleon

Another important new feature of Candy Crush Soda Saga is the titular soda. The soda only comes into play on certain levels, but it fundamentally changes the way candies move on the level.

The soda level only increases whenever soda bottles are broken. On some levels, the soda bottles are fixed and no new ones will ever appear, and on other levels they are mixed in with other candies. Soda bottles have to be matched and broken just like candies do. They otherwise behave like candies of the same color.

Candy Crush Soda Saga Tips: Soda Level

Wherever the soda level is, that’s where the candy will rise or fall to. Candy will move up from the bottom of the screen to just under where the soda is, and candy will likewise fall from the top to just above where the soda is.

This can cause some weird effects on some levels. If there’s something blocking candy from moving down on a level, increasing the soda will cause candies to float up from the bottom. This can be important as some levels really need to be attacked from the bottom.


How’d we do? Was this the best guide to Candy Crush Soda Saga you’ve ever read? If so, share it with your Facebook friends, it really means a lot to us! If not, tell us how to improve or share your own pro tips for Candy Crush Soda Saga in the comments!

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Candy Crush Soda Saga: Tips, Tricks, and Guide! (Part 1) http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-tips-tricks-guide/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-tips-tricks-guide/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 23:39:12 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5891 Candy Crush Soda Saga is King’s second entry in the Candy Crush series. Released for iPhones and Android only recently, it’s nonetheless taken the mobile gaming world by storm. In this guide, I’ll share my favorite Candy Crush Soda Saga tricks. With these tips on your side, you’ll be a Candy Crush Soda Saga guru without breaking the bank for boosts!

Playing the Game

This always seems to trip people up, but we don’t actually make the game, guys.

If you want to play Candy Crush Soda Saga, go check it out on Facebook, Google Play, or Apple iTunes

Candy Crush Soda Saga is free! Don’t get fooled by scams or imitators. The links above take you directly to the official download for the free version of Candy Crush Soda Saga.

The Facebook version is great for playing on laptop or desktop PCs that run Windows or Mac OS, while the Google Play version works great on Android devices like Samsung phones. The iTunes version is for those of you who have iPhones or iPads.

Stuck on a Level?

We have a variety of level guides available, you can start at the beginning with level 1 or use the search box to see if we have a guide for that level.

If you’re still stuck, visit our Facebook page and perhaps we (or another Without the Sarcasm community member) can help out!

Match 3 And Lose

The fastest way to lose at Candy Crush Soda Saga is… matching 3 candies together. I just blew your mind there, didn’t I? “But… but… the whole game is match 3!” Yeah, but it doesn’t really help.

The bottom line is that on most levels, it’s mathematically impossible to clear the objective with match 3 moves. On most of the really tricky levels, you’re going to need to clear out so much candy that matching 3 just isn’t going to cut it. Every 3-in-a-row you make brings you one move closer to losing.

What do you do, then? Master making and using the special candies, and get used to losing. :(

Know Your Special Candies

The special candies in Candy Crush Soda Saga are super important. As we just found out, there’s no way to clear enough candy in each level without using them. Thus, the game is all about positioning candies to make special candy matches.

Special candy matches require four or more candies to be matched, either in a line, a L or T shape, or in a square.

Candy Crush Soda Saga Guide: Special Candies

But even special candies aren’t enough. Special candy combos can be created by matching pairs of special candies together, regardless of their color or type. Each different combination of candy produces a different effect.

Candy Crush Soda Saga Tip Different levels benefit from different special candies and special candy combos. A level where you need to clear all the frosting will probably benefit from matches like wrapped + striped, which clears a large plus-shaped region of candy. On a “raise the soda” level, matching two fish together will release 3 fish candy that break soda bottles and remove other small obstructions.

If you don’t know the special candies, how to make them, and what their combos do, check out our special candies guide for Candy Crush Soda Saga!

Luck, Not Skill

Let’s get this one out of the way. Many people think that Candy Crush games are games of skill. They are not. If you learn one thing from this guide, let it be that Candy Crush Soda Saga is a game of chance.

While the game itself is technically “free to play,” King makes its money off of people who pay for boosts, lives, and other stuff like that. They are heavily incented to make each level difficult enough to frustrate you into doing things that make them money.

As I said above, it’s mathematically impossible to win without special candy combos. Most levels are designed with too few moves to make them slightly more difficult. Much of the time, special candy combinations are at the whim of whatever candies the level gives you.

Take this all together, and you’ll see that no matter how much you know, the deck is stacked against you. You are going to either pay or spend a lot of time losing.

Candy Crush Soda Saga Guide: Losing is no fun!

What can you do with this information? Try to keep this in mind as you play. Know that you’re going to get stuck and that the levels aren’t fair. Don’t get frustrated, it’s not you, it’s Candy Crush Soda Saga trying to get you to pay. Don’t give up! Don’t surrender! You CAN get past the tough levels!

Juicy! Let’s keep the tips rolling in part 2!

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Candy Crush Soda Saga Diaries: Level 1 to 10 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-diaries-level-1-to-10/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-diaries-level-1-to-10/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 01:35:35 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5877 Candy Crush Soda Saga is a new entry in a new Candy Crush series. In this article series, I’ll play the game and try to help you guys by explaining how I cleared particular levels. Let’s get down to crushing some soda!

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 1

The first level’s always super easy, and the game more or less plays itself. I just made the recommended matches and enjoyed the easy win.

Do note that Candy Crush Soda Saga is attempting to teach you how to play the game here – match 3 to make progress, match the soda bottles to raise the soda level. They also introduce (but don’t explain) the Swedish Fish candy.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 2

Already here the game seems to assume you’ve played Candy Crush Saga. See those black wires around some of the soda? Those are licorice cages. They stop you from moving the candy in a square, and they also will “absorb” the first match made. This means if you want to break the candy or soda inside one, you’ve got to match it twice.

This is probably the first time you’ll be able to match a block of 4 candies and make a Swedish Fish yourself – this is a new move for Candy Crush Soda Saga!

Here again the goal is to match the soda bottles to raise the soda level, so focus on those to win.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 3

This level is all about the fish. See how you can make a match of 4 candies in a block? That produces a Swedish Fish special candy, which can be matched to seek out important candies to destroy.

Related Guide Having trouble with special candies? Check out our special candy guide!

The first couple of fish will take care of popping the first few soda bottles, and then it will be up to you to finish up the rest by matching and making your own fish.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 4

Ah, the color bomb. The most coveted of special candies. On this level, we’re just going to play with the color bomb + Swedish fish special candy combo.

The rest of the level should be fairly easy after that, just focus on the soda and win!

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 5


This crazy “plus sign” setup is intended to show you how to make the other special candy called the “coloring candy.” Coloring candy is weird, and kind of hard to make. Again, I’ll refer to the special candy guide for more info.

Once you’ve done that and matched it with another candy, this whole level will break apart spectacularly, and then you’re back to the same ol’ match soda and win.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 6

Level 6 introduces frosting, (although the game also calls it ‘ice’) which is like jelly in Candy Crush Saga. This time, though, the goal isn’t always to clear all of the frosting. Most of the time, what you want to do is clear specific tiles of frosting in order to expose the gummy bears.

On this level, though, all the frosting is covering bears, so all of it needs to go. Mass-clearing frosting usually means special candy combos – anything involving a color bomb is good, or a striped + wrapped combo. The new fish candy isn’t the greatest at clearing large amounts of frosting, but it can be useful for those corner bits that are hard to clear any other way.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 7

Now we’ve got frosting plus those licorice cages plus finding the bears, all together now. Note that you don’t have to match ALL the frosting on this level – just the frosting that is blocking the bears. It’s kind of hard to tell which frosting squares cover the bears, but when they’re down to just one match worth of frosting left, you can see the greenish tint of the gummy bear behind the frosting.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 8

Wow, that’s a lot of cake blocking squares. Here again on Candy Crush Soda Saga level 8, the objective is to find the bears, but that’s going to have to wait until the board is a bit more clear. It takes two nearby matches to clear out this cake and its wrapper, and before this is done making special candy matches is nearly impossible.


After clearing a sizeable chunk of the level, it’s down to making and breaking special candy combos. The wrapped + striped is a good one to do, if you can manage. Color bombs are a bit harder here because of the limited space, but if you can manage it, it’s worth it. One of those plus a wrapped or a striped and you’re in business.

This is probably the first level where you can get really stuck – it can be difficult to do so much clearing on so few moves. It’s probably going to take a few lives to get the luck you need to proceed. Get used to this – this sort of luck-based gameplay is heavily featured in King games and Candy Crush Soda Saga is no exception.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 9

Oooh, another new game mode. In this mode, you’ve got to move the gummi bear in the bubble above the candy string.

The first two screens are gimmes – they’re fixed patterns of candy and it’s just a matter of making the moves. The gloves come off on the final area, although it’s still pretty easy.

Don’t forget that you can match the candy above the candy string as well as below. The candy string is just an arbitrary line – candy matching works as if it wasn’t there.

Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Level 10

Well, that escalated quickly. This is another “floating bear” level, but now there’s some cake and a cage blocking the bear.


This one looks tricky, but it’s really a test of your fish candy knowledge. Matching the fish candies will home in on the squares and licorice cage blocking the bear.

Candy Crush Soda Saga level 10 can take a few tries, mainly because you might not have the candy combinations you need to break the fish free. It takes a bit of luck, but it’s doable.

Next up on Candy Crush Soda Diaries: Levels 11 to 15!

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Candy Crush Soda Saga Special Candies Guide http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-special-candies-guide/ http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/candy-crush-soda-saga-special-candies-guide/#comments Sat, 15 Nov 2014 01:32:52 +0000 http://www.withoutthesarcasm.com/?p=5875 Candy Crush Soda Saga stays close to the Candy Crush Saga formula in many ways. However, Candy Crush Soda Saga introduces new special candies and shakes up existing special candy combos. Becoming a Candy Crush Soda Saga special candies expert is practically required to win the more challenging levels. In this guide, I’ll explain all the special candies, how to make them, and what sorts of combos you can build with them.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Striped Candy

Striped candy in Candy Crush Soda Saga is identical to the striped candy from Candy Crush Saga. You make it the same way – any four-in-a-row match. When matched, a striped candy will clear an entire row or column, depending on the direction of the stripes on the candy.

The direction of the match determines the direction of the stripes. If you move a candy horizontally to make the striped candy, it will clear a row when matched. Similarly, when you move a candy vertically to make the striped candy, it will clear a column.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Wrapped Candy

Wrapped candy is also identical in Candy Crush Soda Saga to wrapped candy from Candy Crush Saga. You can make wrapped candy by making an “L” or “T” shape out of 5 candies of the same color. When matched, a wrapped candy explodes and destroys the candies surrounding it, then when the candy settles it explodes again.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Color Bomb

The color bomb is another returning special candy in Candy Crush Soda Saga. You’ve got to match 5 candies in a straight line in order to make one of these. It does not require a 3-in-a-row to be matched – it will match with any other candy on the board. When matched, it clears all of the same color candy off the board.

Many times a 4-of-a-kind can be nudged into a color bomb. If you can move candies around a 4-of-a-kind, it’s usually worth it to try and make it a 5-of-a-kind to get a color bomb. Color bombs are very useful, doubly so because they enable many special candy combos that we’ll talk about later.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Swedish Fish

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Fish Candy

You may remember the Swedish fish from Candy Crush Saga, but now it’s created in a totally new way – by putting four candies in a square. This makes it much easier to get, and you’ll find that Swedish Fish play a much bigger role in CCS Soda strategies. The Swedish fish will also bring in surrounding candies if it can, so sometimes it will match 5 candies instead of just 4, for example.

The Swedish fish can be extremely powerful because it seeks out important matches for you. For instance, it will break cola bottles, jelly, licorice cages, and other obstacles in your way. It doesn’t just hit candies around it or in a straight line. This makes it an extremely powerful addition to the special candy roster.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Coloring Candy


The coloring candy is the other new special candy in Candy Crush Soda Saga. To make one of these, you’ve got to match 8 candies in a T shape. 5 of them have to be in a row, so this is kind of a cross between the color bomb and the wrapped candy.

When matched with any other candy, a coloring candy will turn all of that color candy into a new color. This candy is harder to make than the color bomb, but it doesn’t seem that much better than the color bomb, honestly.

Candy Crush Soda Saga: Candy Combos

The game doesn’t really call this out, but any two special candies can be matched together to do something special, even if they’re different colors. This is very, very important to clearing the harder levels.

StripedWrappedColor BombSwedish FishColoring Candy
StripedClear a row and column centered on the current square Clear 3 rows and 3 columns centered around the current square Turn all of the same color candies into striped candies and break them Seek out an important square and clear a row/column from thereTurn all of the Striped’s color candy to random direction striped candies
Wrapped Clear 3 rows and 3 columns centered around the current square Detonate in an extra large area and let the candy settle before detonating a smaller area Turn all of the same color candies into wrapped candies and break them Seek out an important square and detonate in that squareTurn all of the Wrapped’s color candy to Wrapped candies
Color Bomb Turn all of the same color candies into striped candies and break them Turn all of the same color candies into wrapped candies and break them Clear the entire board Turn all of the same color candies in to Swedish Fish and seek out important squares to breakClear the entire board
Swedish Fish Seek out an important square and clear a row/column from there Seek out an important square and detonate in that square Turn all of the same color candies in to Swedish Fish and seek out important squares to break Releases 3 Fish to attack important squares.Turn all of the fish’s color candy to fish
Coloring CandyTurn all of the Striped’s color candy to random direction striped candiesTurn all of the Wrapped’s color candy to Wrapped candiesClear the entire boardTurn all of the fish’s color candy to fish?

Right now I haven’t played enough with the coloring candy to see what all the combos are. I think they’re similar to the color bomb. However, if you know them, shout out in the comments!

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Special candy combos are way better than normal special candies, so it pays to get them and match them together! Sometimes, it’s the only way to win with a limited number of moves.
  • The “important squares” that the fish chase aren’t foolproof. In particular, they don’t always hit squares of frosting that there are bears behind. They work okay, but they’re not going to solve all your problems all the time.
  • Notice that the color bomb + wrapped combo has changed from Candy Crush Saga – it used to just clear two colors, but now it will turn all of that same color to bombs. I think this is much better, personally.


Candy Crush Soda Saga keeps some of the old candies from Candy Crush Saga, but it also introduces a couple of new ones. There are a lot of the special candy combos that haven’t changed from the original, but there are some important changes to note. Mastering special candies and special candy combos is essential! Hopefully this guide has helped you understand them!

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