Okay, so maybe you don’t always lose – in fact if you’ve read our other articles you know it’s very possible to beat the hard levels like Candy Crush Level 70…. but it still probably feels like you lose a lot, and at times you may even put CCS away for a while because you are so frustrated. It’s natural, because the game is designed to cause you a lot fun frustration – but there is much more to the human psychology of the obstacles you face and how you are predispositioned to make bad choices when faced with them.
To be clear, I’m decidedly mixed on the pros and cons of the freemium model that Candy Crush Saga has taken to new heights. On the one hand, I see a game that is extremely well polished and extensively maintained that customers don’t have to pay a dime for. That side of the argument is rarely given equal attention, but even though we all may feel like King is the devil sometimes, you can’t argue that they are giving away something pretty good for free. On the other hand, the extent to which they have sharpened their freemium weapons is a staggering and morally a questionable affair. So with that backdrop, let’s take it for a given that CCS is playing games with your mind, and look closer at what those games are and how you can win the ultimate victory – beating your own impulses, to beat the game.
1. Getting in “the groove”
Once you’ve played Candy Crush long enough to understand the basics, your brain’s natural inclination is to want to get into a groove. Your conscious will start to “check out” and defer monotonous tasks to your subconscious. This can have a relaxing enjoyable affect, and is what slot machine players refer to as the machine zone. If you really love this style of Candy Crush play, I suggest you go back to early levels and replay them. As you climb up the ranks and encounter more layering of the different obstacles… you really need to think. This is such simple advice, but if you focus on it you’ll probably notice how lazy your brain is and how often you aren’t challenging yourself to thoroughly evaluate options before making a move. Resist the urge to make quick moves without weighing your options, and you’ll soon find yourself methodically grinding past levels that used to be roadblocks.
2. Thinking too small
Candy Crush Saga is often characterized as a “match 3” game, but in fact it might be more accurate to call it a “match 4 or 5” game. Crushing only 3 candies is basically the worst move that you can make, and you should only do so to set up bigger combos. Icing and Jellies often make levels literally unbeatable with simple matches, but if you are not careful something about the taunting “move suggestions” or your brain’s need to just do something will cause you to burn through precious moves on simple matches that put you no closer to the goal. Take some time to survey the board and work towards combos that maximize the effectiveness of your moves. When you realize that Special Candy Combos are the only way to win some levels, you’ll have defeated one of Candy Crush’s best psychological tricks.
3. Ignoring big problems to solve small ones
Chocolate and Bombs do need to be monitored, and often dealt with – but remember what they really are: distractions. If you’ve played as much CCS as I have, you’ll have a deep and unabating hatred of Chocolate, but you have to learn to keep it in perspective. If an obstacle like Chocolate is blocking you from your goal (or about to) – it gets your full attention. If instead, obstacles are taking over an area of the board you don’t need to control to win let it go. Likewise, if a Bomb, or even a bunch of Bombs have a 15 turn timer – they aren’t a big concern yet. By making moves that tackle the main goal, you’ll often even knock out some obstacles by sheer dumb luck, and those are moves you’ll save to be focused on your main goal.
4. Gambling on chance
Candy Crush involves some chance, and many times when you are losing it feels like it involves too much. The truth is though, that your inner gambler may be working against you. The number of candy colors on a given level varies, but it is often 5 or 6. When you do the math, that means the random chance of you getting the color you seek when you gamble on a random drop is less than 20%. Four out of five times you will lose that bet, and that is assuming the game is playing fair. Given such odds, gambling on random drop is a sucker’s bet that should be taken only when you have absolutely no other option.
Pro Tip While gambling on a lucky drop isn’t very wise, eliminating candy colors is. When you Fill Odo the Owl’s Dream Scale or Chain Color Bombs you greatly improve the odds of every possible Special Candy – and I mentioned above – more Special Candies means a greatly improved chance of winning.
5. Forgetting the goal
While the goal is right in front of you, the various other mechanics previously mentioned are all subtle ways to lure you off course. While the sound of crushing candy and the encouraging baritone pronouncements of “Delicious” and “Tasty” do have a certain satisfaction to them, they are not the real goal (if you want to win). Breaking the infernal Chocolate or even crushing Bombs can often cost you the one move you need to win. On the hardest levels you need to consider every move carefully, and whether it is necessary to achieve the goal (and win).
What tricks do you use to keep your head in the game when you’re crushin’? Let us know in the comments section!