What To Play Instead Of Candy Crush Saga

So, it’s fairly widely believed that King, creators of Candy Crush Saga, don’t seem a very lovely lot. In fact, last week brought news of some alleged actions that are deeply unsavoury (geddit?), as the creator of CandySwipe revealed the extent to which King are apparently going to make his game – made in tribute to his late mother – go away. A game that, while not a match-3, happens to have a lot in common with Candy Crush Saga, only it came out two years before King’s own. This follows unpleasant behaviour toward Stoic and The Banner Saga, and their attempts to trademark basic English words and use this to legally threaten other developers. So, all in all, yeah, possibly not a company you’d want over for dinner.

Bearing all this in mind, it would seem rather nice if an enormous number of people were to stop playing their games, if you ask me. But of course, a lot of CCS players aren’t going to be RPS readers, but rather your mum or dad, cousin, colleague or friend, and maybe they’d be less keen to play if they knew who made it. Maybe you are too. So, with this in mind, below are my suggestions for games to play instead.

Bejewled 3

The origins of the match-3 game aren’t entirely clear. You can argue it goes back to ChainShot!/SameGame in 1985, and then evolves via the likes of Puzznic, and then Magic Jewelry in 1990. Tetris Attack brought in the tile swapping in 1995, as did Russian made Shariki, and at that point you can call it a match-3 as we understand it today. 2000-ish saw Super Collapse! sneak in just before it went big. However, it was in 2001 that Popcap’s Bejeweled made it a household concept. Bejeweled went huge. In 2010 it was reported that it had sold 50 million copies.

The original Bejeweled is a very purist interpretation of the Match-3 game, lacking in Candy Crush’s sense of “journey”, and with fewer tasks to perform along the way. However, since PopCap was bought by EA, they don’t seem to acknowledge it any more. There’s a version called “Bejeweled” only available on iThings on their website, but it’s not the original. In 2004 came Bejeweled 2, but that has also been wiped from their history, creating the rather strange result of only Bejeweled 3 being boasted of on their own site.

Bejeweled and Bejeweled 2 are still available on Steam, in their Deluxe form, although both are currently a rather unreleastic £7. Bejeweled 3 is an eye-watering £15, for a genre that’s mostly freemium in 2014. The new iOS Bejeweled is indeed freemium, as is the 60 second version of the game, Bejeweled Blitz, which also graces Android with an appearance.

And then there’s Bejeweled Blitz, which is the EAist incarnation yet, a fully monetised version of Bejeweled which is able to make boasts like, “Get up to 50% off Kanga Ruby Rare Gem harvests in the wild,” on its store page. “New users get 100,000 coins free,” it adds.


By my incredibly accurate opinion the best match-3 game ever made, Zoo Keeper began life on the Nintendo DS. And was fantastic. It’s important to note at this point that I once held the 8th highest score in the world for the main game, and that’s why I’m amazing. (It’s also important to remember that I am better at this game than professional cybernat and online bully Stuart Campbell.) This is match-3 in its purest form, but more importantly, delivered perfectly. The best version remains the DS build, but Zookeeper DX on iOS and Android is still completely great. And best of all – perhaps the reason it’s so great – is that unlike CCS it lets you play another move before the grid has finished reacting to the last. To any CCS obsessive, this artificial slow-down must surely be driving them crazy by now. But in ZK, you’re sweep-swooshing so fast that crowds gather to worship your hands.

There have been 10,000,000 purchases of the DX version for phones and tablets, which is mighty impressive. And now there’s something far more dreadful-sounding called Zookeeper Battle. This is a sort-of two-player version of the game where your playing of a grid creates both an attacking and defensive score, which is then played against an opponent’s own from the same start. Each of you has a life bar, and you do your best to wear it down. However, this is an F2P game, and as such manages to find lots of ways to offer to let you pay money. But then perhaps that’s the perfect thing for someone trying to ween themselves away from King’s sickly sweet game. And there’s a little PC flash version of it from the developers you can play for free here.

Puzzle Quest

This one is certainly a step up from the casual nature of CCS, but a worthwhile one. I recently started playing the original Puzzle Quest again, and it’s absolutely every bit as engaging. Combining the match-3 game with an RPG, it gets surprisingly involved while maintaining a surface simplicity. You pick your class, which really only affects which coloured gems are most powerful for you to match, and then choose weapons, spells, pets and so on as you progress. There’s a ton of story, which isn’t that brilliant but gives you a reason to be going on this epic matching-thrice quest. Fighting monsters is an enormously satisfying win, and it’s packed with mini-games that offer puzzles and tweaks on the formula. In fact, if you’ve a CCS-playing friend who you just know would get a kick out of less casual games, this is the best gateway imaginable.

The original Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords is still the best, I think. It’s on Steam for £7. However, for phones and tablets there’s Puzzle Quest 2, which is freemium. I’ve only played the PC build, which is not infested with IAPs, so I’m not sure how much fun there is to be hand on a phone without forking out a fortune. However, I’ve just installed it on my Nexus 5 and intend to find out.

There’s also Puzzle Quest: Galactrix, which Kieron liked a lot more than I did, and most recently Marvel Puzzle Quest, which didn’t appeal to me at all (despite featuring Spider-Man, and I’ve got a Spider-Man shower squeegie). It’s not only not that great of a Puzzle Quest game, but also a gauge-fest of IAPs. It’s on iOS and Android for “free”, and indeed on Steam for the same. Or, as is rather brutally revealed in the DLC bundle, you could spend a total of £112.97 on it. Don’t do that.


One of the best, purest match-3 games there is, and one that’s almost entirely broken my brain when it comes to playing the rest. 10,000,000 has you slide the enter line, Chuzzle-style, rather than swap adjacent tiles. Once you get used to that, it’s hard to remember how to play the other way. What’s so lovely here is it takes the Puzzle Quest ideas of gathering resources and using special abilities as you play, a refines them into a streamlined system that simplifies things splendidly.

It then combines this match-3ing with the sensibilities of an endless runner – your character running to the right, as the world drifts inexorably to the left. Fall off the edge of the screen and you’re done. The combination of frantic play and deploying tactics makes it remarkably involved for such a minimalist game, and reaching a score of 10,000,000 makes you feel like the best person on the planet.

The game costs $5 on PC, directly from EightyEight Games, and is on iOS for $2 and Android for the same.

Triple Town

2011’s Triple Town went through a familiar battle, when 6waves Lolapps produced a clone called Yeti Town. That went through court, and in the end Spry Fox won. It’s a very different take on matching three, where placing objects in the world in groups of three causes them to combine to create other objects. Following this logic – bush to tree to hut, etc – you create towns.

It’s F2P with what were awkward IAPs to keep playing, but you can now put down $4 and play the whole game unlimited. Or, you can pick it up on Steam for £7.

Also in excellent match-3 territory is Piyo Blocks 2 on Android and iOS. Or you could introduce them to Threes! (iOS only, because creator Asher Vollmer HATES DECENT ANDROID OWNING PEOPLE), the fantastic Flow Free by Big Duck Games (iOS and Android), or iOS release Zircuits, Huebrix on iOS and Android, and so many other top-notch puzzling choices, that don’t require forking cash over to his majesty.

Please do leave your match-3 alternatives below.


  1. Kefren says:

    How could you miss this? link to rockpapershotgun.com
    Just a year ago! :-)

  2. jasonisme84 says:

    Puzzle Quest 2 is surprisingly cheap. You get the tutorial free and its full of ads, which put me off initially, but then it only cost about £2 for the full game and no more ads. I think you can unlock classes individually for a little less, but not sure if that gets rid of the adverts. Its probably worth it, its a few hours of fun followed by a few more hours during which it gets a bit easy and dull.

    • frightlever says:

      I played the original PQ on DS and assumed that PQ2 would be best on there as well. Thing is, PQ2 isn’t all that good, and the DS version is actually one of the worst because you can’t even re-spec on DS – a facility that was included or patched into most other versions. But again, PQ2 was pretty boring compared to the original.

    • LionsPhil says:

      bottles of beer on the wall, 10000000 bottles of beer…

      • NonCavemanDan says:

        …you take one down, you pass it around: this is going to go on for a very long time!

        • Horg says:

          I’ve always found that song to be questionable. Who the hell passes a beer around? If I take one down, i’m damn well keeping it until I can see the world through the bottom of the glass.

  3. Feet says:


  4. golem09 says:

    Missing the most important one, RPS, Might and Magic: Clash of Heroes. And it’s on ALL PLATFORMS.
    Must have played it about 5 times now, and I still can’t get enough.

    • John Walker says:

      I bought it from Steam while researching this, but haven’t had time to play yet.

    • Oozo says:

      For somebody who doesn’t know better: what is the difference between Puzzle Quest and this one? If you could only buy one, which one would you recommend?

      • Gothnak says:

        PQ1 is great, but you can unbalance it. M&M is much tighter but can get quite samey over the course of the game, looks great though.

        Saying that, i have played both for many hours.

        As i have mentioned elsewhere, on iOS try out PQ Marvel: Dark Reign, it’s free and uses a LOT of the gameplay from PQ, doesn’t have much of a story though, depends if you are really playing it for that though?

      • golem09 says:

        The two are very different games. PQ is pretty much bejewled where the type of gem you destroy determines what happens and restocks your mana. In Clash of Heroes ALL your “gems” are units, and they really are on a battlefield, facing rows or enemy units. If you place three in a row, the units turn into a wall for defense, place three in a column, and they will make an attack formation of that kind of unit that attacks in a straight line, hitting enemy units in their column, and eventually the enemy player. Those are just the basic, with lots of different units, rules for unit placing / action points per turn making it a lot more complex. Add to that a campaign that has you playing through 5 differents races, each with other kinds of walls/special attacks, different units with different powers and a lot of artifacts, and you have a very, very VERY fun game.

        Oh and, then there are puzzle challenges, where you have to defeat enemy units in a very specific way, (ab)using the gameplay mechanisms. Those are built into the campaign and basically teach you how to play better without levelling.
        It’s overal a genius design.

        Yeah, I’m a fan, play it John.

        • Arathain says:

          Yeah, play it. I like it as much as Puzzle Quest, and that’s saying a very great deal.

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          I agree. Bought it for cheap during a Steam sale and.. well.. it didn’t disappoint.

    • filsd says:

      I was about to say that! :]

    • Tekrunner says:

      -75% on Steam right now. Just bought it, enjoying it so far.

  5. Kefren says:

    Bejeweled 2 is the only one available for the Kindle Fire (on the Kindle Android Store) link to amazon.com
    I bought it (for my girlfriend, who loves it).

  6. soulblur says:

    I wish Puzzle Quest was on IOS. Seems like the perfect kind of game for it. The other ones just don’t scratch the same itch for some reason.

    • John Walker says:

      I’ve been playing Puzzle Quest 2 on Android for the last few days (turns out I’d bought it in the past, before its F2P ways) and it’s really splendid. On iOS too:

      link to itunes.apple.com

      • Gnoupi says:

        My main issue with it is that it takes around 600mb on the device. And those are devices with usually a limited space.

      • Gothnak says:

        PQ2 just isn’t as good as PQ1 though, i think they took a lot of the combos out. Saying that, i did get an infinite mana combo in PS1 which made the game a bit easy about mid way though. At least PQ2 is better than Galactrix which was pants…

    • Deano2099 says:

      It used to be available, I still have it on my iPhone. It’s kinda fiddly as the screen is just a little bit too small. Alas it wasn’t a universal app so I don’t have the fancy iPad version that would be perfect. I really don’t know why it was pulled from the store…

  7. geckoagua says:

    “A lovely idea, rather spoilt by its free-to-play nature, which means after you’ve grown used to playing, it will start asking you for monies to keep taking turns at the pace you’re used to. Or it slows down to a crawl. But heck – we’re talking about converting CCS players here – they thrive on this stuff. Or, you can pick it up on Steam for £7 and play it properly.”

    Or pay $4 for unlimited turns and everything unlocked on mobile. Did you ever bother looking into it or did you just need to jump on the opportunity to take a dump on it? Spry Fox probably has the most honest pricing there is.

    • John Walker says:

      Thank you Cap’n Angry. Have fixed the text.

    • Arathain says:

      I see this tone in posts a lot, and I’ll never understand it. The post could have read something like “Hey John, if you don’t like the IAP in Tripe Town the developer offers a $4 version with everything unlocked.” Instead you get someone coming across like their having a terrible day and are snapping at everyone.

      • Frank says:

        John’s dissing the game on the basis of his misunderstanding of the facts. I’d be pissed, too.

        Also, Triple Town is by far my favorite entry in this genre. I looked recently, and it has a billion iOS clones now, so I guess John is right about those mobile folks being up for this sort of thing, though I don’t think it’s to do with the pricing.

  8. Sir_Pete says:

    Puzzle & Dragons and clones of it. Basically match-3 puzzle RPG game with grinding and micro-transactions :). What I really like about this game is that you can swipe the “stone” wherever you want not just “one-stone per turn”.

    • bill says:

      Puzzles and Dragons seems to have taken over the whole country. I have no idea if its developers are evil like King, but I don’t know if i’d recommend anyone to move from one addiction to another similar one.

      • Gothnak says:

        There are a lot of very similar match 3 games like that, i’ve played a pokemon style one and an army style one. All are pretty basic tbh, with not a lot of tactics, more about how much you have levelled up. As i mention below Marvel: Dark Reign does it MUCH better, so go for that ;)

    • Arathain says:

      I’ve been experimenting with Puzzle and Dragons recently. Getting a ton of different creatures and having to combine them constantly to level them up I find tedious and fiddly. I think the game itself is really neat, though. To expand on what you’ve said above, you take a turn by dragging a single piece anywhere you want. It moves under your finger by making a series of swaps, and you come to realise that you can make extra matches by passing through the board in the right way. You only have a limited time to make your move, so you look at the board, plan out your route, and execute it with quick movements. It feels amazing when you get it right, and you’re rewarded for making good combos with heaps of damage.

    • trjp says:

      PaD surprised me by not being as grabby as I expected BUT it’s not on Android in the UK (STILL!) so…

      The Doctor Who Puzzle-and-Dragon ripoff is there if you’re desperate (and you need to be)

  9. db1331 says:

    Should people really need to be told not to play Candy Crush Saga? We don’t tell people not to eat garbage. Everyone just already knows you shouldn’t eat garbage.

    • John Walker says:

      CCS is a perfectly good match-3 game. I suspect you haven’t actually played it.

      • db1331 says:

        You’re right, I haven’t played it. I own too many actual good games to ever want to play an app on my phone.

        • John Walker says:

          “I’ve tasted enough nice food to ever want to try eating something else,” isn’t quite how toddlers phrase this.

          • db1331 says:

            That’s apt since toddlers should be the prime demographic for CSS. Particularly toddlers with mommy’s credit card information stored on their ipad.

          • SillyWizard says:

            Toddlers and old people have a lot in common.

      • Deano2099 says:

        It’s…. really average. It’s not bad, but it’s success is far disproportionate to it’s quality. Sort of like the Coldplay of video games.

        • Gothnak says:

          Whoops, just put this comment in the wrong place. CCS is great for people that don’t play many games. For those that do, go elsewhere.

        • Shadow says:

          Right. It is (or was?) a hit among non-gamers, for being uncomplicated and addictive. And non-gamers, like my sister and grandma, are the pretty large, unsuspecting market King targets.

          They’re also the most unlikely group to hear about King’s backstabbing antics, so it helps to spread the word at least to your family and friends.

      • Arathain says:

        One of the things that makes me sad about King’s indefensible behaviour is that Candy Crush is actually a pretty good game. It’s very differently paced from most match-3s, which are paced to create flow. CCS is about finding the optimal move on the board to either move towards your objective, or creating the conditions for useful things to happen. You only have so many moves, and the levels can get very challenging, so it pays to slow down and thing. In this way it’s more like procedurally generated puzzles. It’s very good at introducing new obstacles every level set to keep things fresh.

        It has issues with some levels being very difficult to get past with anything other than luck. The F2P aspects aren’t as much of a problem for me, since they all seem like such bad investments- you might buy a booster or extra turns, and still not finish the level. I’ve never spent anything.

        • Vandelay says:

          I actually agree with this completely. It really isn’t a terrible game that many claim it to be. It isn’t great or deserving of the magnitudes of players, but it is my go to game for whiling away a train journey.

          I tried to replace it with Puzzle Quest 2 (the first doesn’t seem to be available on idevices in the UK), which was fine for awhile, but soon became tedious as every match players out in the same way. It also has a far less satisfying feel to it than CCS, where the candy pieces move fluidly with your swipes and everything pops with a pleasing way. They may be small things, but they do work.

    • Bugamn says:

      It’s not just telling not to eat garbage, but also telling what else can be eaten.

  10. psepho says:

    I tried playing CCS at the weekend. I only played for about 20 mins but it seemed very easy and I didn’t encounter any microtransactions. I also played Bejewelled (iOS) for a fair bit longer and didn’t find any microtransactions there either.

    Is it possible that my iPhone is immune to microtransactions?

    • SuicideKing says:


    • soulblur says:

      You don’t actually need to buy anything for CCS. But once the difficulty spikes (I think around level 30 or so), you’ll see yourself looking at boosters and actually considering to buy them. Essentially, it just becomes totally luck based, and the boosters give you better luck.

    • MacTheGeek says:

      My wife played all the way through CCS (four-hundred-and-some levels) without spending any money. Took her about six months to get through, and there were some times where she would get stuck on a level for several days, but she never did give King a dime.

  11. Premium User Badge

    tenochtitlan says:

    Ron Gilbert’s Scurvy Scallywags is nice, too. Has a vaguely roguelike-ish RPG thing added to the Match-3 elements and you have to defeat enemies on the board. But its mechanics are all Match-3.

    It’s out for iThings (link to itunes.apple.com), but they’re apparently also working on an Android version right now.

  12. djbriandamage says:

    Zookeeper really is the best match-3. Other games of the genre impose these little “micro pauses” on the player where you wait before you can actually move, or you try to move but you’re stuck in an animation. Zookeeper is fluid and usable and bright, removing little barriers you wouldn’t notice in other games until you try this one.

    It’s a dollar on Android for the “DX” version which is the one you want. I haven’t tried the free one but I imagine it’s restrictive in ways the paid one isn’t.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Bejeweled 3 (and Blitz) also got rid of that, and I can’t play with such pauses anymore, it’s frustrating me.

      Puzzle Quest 1 also didn’t block you during animations. The second episode might look better, be more refined… for some reason, they didn’t think keeping this fluid movement was a good idea, and it’s lacking. It’s actually the main reason why I keep not playing the second one, but instead go back to the original.

      • dE says:

        Honestly, I thought the second Puzzle Quest was rather… bad.
        Something just didn’t work for me, it felt grindy somehow.

  13. Deano2099 says:

    You used to be able to get the original Puzzle Quest on phone and tablet too, but they got pulled at one point, seemingly to push the more easily monetized sequels. Which is damn annoying.

  14. gibb3h says:

    Bejewelled Twist is still my favourite match 3, though I guess is does play a little differently to the others. It still annoys me that there are so few decent games to play on mobile devices, there must be a million turn based pc games that could be happily ported. I even went so far as to set up dosbox just to play Masters of Orion 2 on my phone, which works surprisingly well for anyone interested.

    • Arathain says:

      If you like Bejeweled Twist have you tried Geomancer? It’s a collaboration between pre-EA PopCap and Square-Enix that for no reason I can determine nobody has heard of. It’s good. It doesn’t have the depth or fluidity of Puzzle Quest, but the Twist mechanic, combined with some cleverness about how combat works, makes for a tactical and thoughtful game.

  15. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    In the nineties, there was time for Klax.

    But that was a slightly different beast. My favorite samegamelike is Insane Game for the (omg portable!) TI-86. It’s a match-2 game with an “action mode” where it keeps adding new blocks as you play. It was so intense it was like I was in an NES commercial. I don’t know if these new games have modes like that, but I think the graphics would make me barf.

  16. Ulaxes says:

    No love for Windows Phone? :(
    Not that I play any mobile games anyway. I try to avoid freemium and F2P like the black plague.
    An exception would be the excellent Valve F2P-games on PC though.

    • John Walker says:

      “No love for Windows Phone? :(”

      ‘No’ – The Universe

      • DrGonzo says:

        There are millions of us already and its seems to be spreading. But no, just dismiss us with snark.

        I’m currently making something for pc, but after that’s done I’m going to start on a windows phone/ windows 8 app. Seeing the way RPS talk about these platforms and the users I wont even attempt to get them to try it.

        • SuicideKing says:

          I’ve been using a Lumia 620 for a year. WP8 deserves all the snark. Thinking of switching to the Moto G.

        • Lemming says:

          “There are millions of us already and its seems to be spreading. But no, just dismiss us with snark. “

          It’s like the threat of a cult…or a plague. Apt.

        • DrGonzo says:

          Just get an xbox or playstation right? Theyre the most popular, therefore the universe hates the rest you’d be stupid for not copying everyone else!

          Interesting. I had a Motorola before my first windows phone, couldn’t stand it, awful ui and crashing etc. Since switching to windows phone, it just works.

          • Ulaxes says:

            Please, let’s not start flamewars over mobile OS(es) on a PC Gaming site. :O
            I personally love my HTC 8x and I think that Windows Phone is leading in terms of design and continuity but lacking in developer support due to it’s relativly low spread. If you think differently, feel free to do so.

            By the way, in Q3 2013 there were 68 millions of sold Windows Phones:
            link to blog.globalwebindex.net

          • Ulaxes says:

            And therefor I’m happy to see people like DrGonzo developing for WP :)
            Keep up the good work!

        • thedosbox says:

          There are millions of us already and its seems to be spreading. But no, just dismiss us with snark.

          Those “millions” translate to 3% of the global smartphone market, so jokingly claiming that nobody cares about it seems fair to anyone not emotionally or financially tied to its success.

          Anyhow, my match-three poison of choice (for mobile) is Dungeon Raid:

          link to dubiousquality.blogspot.ca

  17. frightlever says:

    “The best version remains the DS build, but Zookeeper DX on iOS and Android is still completely great. And best of all – perhaps the reason it’s so great – is that unlike CCS it lets you play another move before the grid has finished reacting to the last.”

    Oh. Must look at that. Starting a new line before the last has completed is why the original Treasures of Montezuma on iPad is my favourite match 3, but it’s getting kinda long in the tooth. I have no interest in playing match 3 on PC – I’ve done it in the past but it’s murder on my RSI.

  18. Gothnak says:

    Puzzle Quest Marvel: Dark Reign on mobile is pretty good. Play through the single player stuff to get started and use all your coins to buy Hero Slots and then you can start getting a decent team together.

    It has a lot of the depth of Puzzle Quest (You choose your team each having a number of abilities rather than equipping a character with spells) as you can come up with nice combos, basic Storm is one of the best to clear the board.

    Also, after a while you stop playing the single player and do whatever events are on at the time, as you don’t play other players live, the games are just like playing the AI anyway, and you choose who to fight, so just avoid the people who have obviously spent money :).

    I haven’t spent a penny, have 3 characters nudging level 30 with another 7 or so all above level 10.

    Here’s a link to the iOS:

    link to itunes.apple.com

    • Arathain says:

      I didn’t get on at all with Dark Reign. It was just way too stripped down in comparison with the first Puzzle Quest, and had too many irritations with needing covers to upgrade heroes and get new ones, yet providing very limited cover space so you constantly had to struggle to get more. It felt choked off by its F2P model.

      • Gothnak says:

        I know what you mean, i had that initially. But you can get Iron Man, Storm, Juggernaut, Hawkeye and couple of others pretty easily and use them as your mainstay just by playing some low level single player campaigns.

        Then you can use those to get a LOT of upgrade points with which you can spam the shop, i had over 6000 at one point. The hero space unlocks are what you have to save for.

        I now have a level 29 Magneto who works very well with Storm and Iron Man. The first two clear the board repeatedly and Iron Man kills people. It’s no more grindy than having to fight a bunch of Giant Rats and Skeletons in PQ1.

    • someguyxx says:

      I came into this thread specifically to post a counter-opinion matey. Sorry.

      MPQ used to be a very interesting and super addictive puzzle battle game. Over time, the devs have shown they are totally clueless about how to properly balance a game, or indeed, how to run a continuous game-as-a-service in a way that doesn’t constantly infuriate the players.

      Since the start, the game has seen a constant string of vicious nerfs that have totally neutered the most sought-after top-tier characters (in some cases, just hours after people paid real money to acquire them), stealth nerfs that were added while making a huge show of being transparent with the community (they pre-announced nerfs for Wolverine and Thor very publicly, and gained a lot of goodwill and trust, then in the same patch, quietly snuck in a major game-changing nerf that made in-game boost items cost real money, which they never had previously).

      Shortly after they nerfed Thor and Wolvie (two of the most easily accessible and powerful characters in the game), they made a huge show of extending an olive branch to players by letting them sell off both these characters at temporarily enhanced prices that would compensate them for the in-game currency they had spent. Shortly after tons of players sold off both these characters, they started running new tournaments featuring Thor and Wolverine, which many players found themselves boxed out of because they had just sold theirs.

      Right around these massive nerfs, they also added a new event against PVE enemies whose effective difficulty level would rapidly balloon out of control and make them unbeatable except for players with high-level teams who also spent large amounts of real money on the real money boosts. They admitted on the forums that the ballooning difficulty was the result of improperly testing the game with a very small pool of players (probably just the devs and some friends & family), and the rapid and untenable difficulty boost was an unforeseen consequence of having thousands of players.

      Then, despite receiving clear feedback that players hated this system, they added this exact same system to the next PVE event.

      This used to be a really great game, highly addictive and felt truly rewarding. However, it is rapidly falling apart, and everything that was fun and interesting is getting nerfed fast and hard with little to no proper testing. People have been quitting in droves since launch. Repeat: these devs have no clue how to make a balanced, interesting, fun game, and from what can anyone can tell, that it used to be a fun and enjoyable game was pretty much on accident. Avoid at all costs!

      • Gothnak says:


        I just popped in, played some games and enjoyed it. Am certainly not playing at the top tier, and because it isn’t really PvP, i just choose matches that i can win, so nerfing or not, i always end up winning my matches. Sure, when my team averages level 27, i can’t beat level 35, but anythingbelow that, i stand a pretty good chance against the AI.

        Also, having not spent any money on it, i don’t feel ripped off at all when i play it in bed for 40 mins a day before going to sleep.

        I guess if i had invested a lot to build the best team, it would have annoyed me, then again, i’ve never spent a penny on F2P…

  19. spiffx says:

    And how about all the Jewel Master Cradle of Rome/Egypt/Persia etc games on the DS? They’re pretty good in my opinion: fiendishly difficult in the later stages.

    • Gothnak says:

      They were pretty fun on the PC, lots and lots of them. Like Puzzle match 3 rather than standard. Tbh, Candy Crush does steal a bunch of ideas from them, and when i played it, it felt like Cradle of Rome Lite.

      I also tried a F2P stone age game on iOS which was like Cradle of Rome COMPLEX, so you might like that. You send off characters to defeat dinosaurs while collecting resources and matching stuff. Quite meta…

  20. varangian says:

    Coincidental with seeing this I also read this concerning King’s proposed IPO for £500m. They’re obviously trying to fill their boots whilst CCS is still popular, hearteningly their numbers seem to be dropping so with a bit of luck they’ll fall flat, though the inability of investors to spot a one trick pony never fails to amaze. This may well also account for their insane litigation attempts at anything sharing a word with their titles. I think it’s safe to say John Walker will be taking a short position on their stock.

    • kwyjibo says:

      King will just sweep the Candy Trademark Saga aside while lining their pockets with IPO money. Maybe they’ll pay the CandySwipe guy a few bucks to get him to shut up. This is how the world works.

  21. Maxheadroom says:

    I’ve a friend who i’ve tried for meny a year to coax out of casual gaming. She’d been addicted to Farmville, Candy Crush and a dozen derritives thereof. Couldnt even pursuade her to install Steam to even ‘look’ at something more mainstream.

    I did however recently get her to give the Hearthstone beta a go, and now she’s totally addicted to that

    So it’s a step in the right direction at least

  22. Moraven says:

    Puzzle Quest: Galactrix is terrible. Such a step down from PQ1. I like the Hex board but the rest of the game fell flat on concepts that were not developed enough. And hacking jump gates……

    Clash of Heroes is great and on most platforms.

    Meteos on the DS has been one of my favorites.

    And for other puzzle matching games, Lumines and Super Puzzle Fighter are always good. As has Bust-A-Move/Super Bubble Bobble throughout the years.

  23. kinofrost says:

    If you’re a fan of the Triple Town format then Puzzle Forge is a pretty good time.

  24. Arathain says:

    Some hate for Galactrix, which I kind of understand. It was a let down after the first Puzzle Quest. I liked it, though- the hex board made for some interesting ways to interact with the pieces. Both this and PQ2 really suffer in comparison with the first PQ, as neither had as much depth or character as the first, and some annoying, non-optional mini-games.

    Clash of Heroes is utterly wonderful. It’s a very clever, elegant battle system with a creative story campaign. It holds surprisingly well to its theme- impressive, since the genre tends so strongly to the abstract.

    Zookeeper is my gaming nemesis. I have played so, so much Time Attack. The screen of my old DS had a distinct grid pattern of scratches. Once, earlyish in my addiction I got a score of 5.9 million. It seemed to me that while that round had gone well I could have done better, so I assumed I’d break the 6 million barrier soon. No score since has come close to that one. I still pull out the DS once in a while and chase that 6 million.

  25. ecbremner says:

    My favorite nostalgic match 3 game.. Bilging in Puzzle Pirates,

    • Arathain says:

      Puzzle Pirates is incredible. So many great ideas. I also loved bilging.

      • mistwolf says:

        Y!PP is now completely playable on IOS as well as PC. It took far, far, far too long for them to port it, when it is so perfect for it! But you can even now play the subscriber ocean, letting us oldtimers haul on the go. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with Y!PP and it only gets better with age.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Hammer says:

    Wait a second, RPS Stuart Campbell is THAT Stuart Campbell? That managed to pass me by for at least 3 years…

    • The Random One says:

      Can you explain to me what a “cybernat” is, other than evidence that we live in a Neal Steepenson novel?

      • Lambchops says:

        A supporter of Scottish independence (typically, though not always a supporter of the Scottish National Party, sometimes referred to as “the Nats.”) who is particularly active online, usually through pointing out when the “No” campaign are being doom mongering and throwing out lies and half truths (I don’t actually support Scottish independence myself, but the official “No” campaign don’t always make it easy!).

        Listen to the “No” campaign and you’ll be convinced they are a bunch of weirdos with a chip on their shoulder and nothing constructive to say, listen to the cyber nats and they’ll tell you that they are always impeccably behaved. Inevitably the truth is somewhere in the middle,

  27. Awesumo says:


  28. Allenomura says:

    Columns and Columns 3 were released in emulated form by SEGA. Also whichever version of Puyo Puyo you can get hold of. (Or even Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine)

  29. Pray For Death says:

    Puzzle Quest 2 is not freemium on mobile. It has two versions, one ‘premium’ and one ‘freemium’ with in-game currency.

  30. Premium User Badge

    Risingson says:

    Mumbo Jumbo deserves a little more love. Their “7th Wonders” games, full of achievements and reactors, are really worth of respect and admiration.

  31. bhauck says:

    I really like Chop Sushi, which again switches up the formula by having you fling one piece to the edge, and shifts everything in that row or column. It’s also got a small, unusual, cute story.

  32. Lambchops says:

    Lots of great games mentioned; though as always I think it’s a shame there’s not more love for Tidalis, which really tried to do something a little bit different and until things started getting a bit overly fiddly in later challenges succeeded rather well.

  33. Nate says:

    “attempts to trademark basic English words”

    Mr. Walker, I wish you’d stop saying this. King is a jerk, but this isn’t a reason why. Trademarking basic English words is a common practice– consider Steam, Valve, Apple, Id, all registered trademarks.

    Trademarks aren’t copyright. You can still start a business named Valve Hardware, Id Counseling, Candy Manufacturing.

    • Philotic Symmetrist says:

      Except that here they are trying to trademark a common word in a context where it would be reasonable to use it. The word Apple has nothing to do with computing, so if anyone ever tries to use Apple in the name of anything computer related it is reasonable to assume this is not being done in good faith. But someone could make a game (books, movies etc would have the same problem) where candy is part of the theme (and so far this is not necessarily infringing on anything) but now if they want to give it a name that is simply descriptive of what they’ve made they can’t. In the case of Saga, this is what they are trying to do (despite not even having the Saga trademark) and yes King.com are being jerks in regards to trademarks of common words.

      Part of the problem as I see it is what counts as descriptive in the area of games, books, movies etc? You couldn’t trademark Candy in the context of confectionery but if say a book is about candy should it not be descriptive to name a book after its topic?

      • Nate says:

        “Except that here they are trying to trademark a common word in a context where it would be reasonable to use it.”

        The fact that you can make a game about the rate with which radioactive materials decay doesn’t make Valve into a bunch of assholes for registering the Half-life trademark. They’d only be assholes because of their insistence on threatening legal action in cases that were probably fair use, and not for the trademark in the first place. That’s what King is doing, and that’s why he’s an asshole, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s trademarked actual English words. This is maybe pedantic to you, but I think it’s important that Mr. Walker be accurate about what is actually outrageous about the situation.

        • Philotic Symmetrist says:

          Half-life is a good example; not quite as common a word but more relevant than Steam, Valve, Apple or Id. Creative works have more potential for fair use, though as you point out the problem then is not preventing the trademark but ensuring that fair use is not threatened.

          There is the other problem with the trademark itself in that the game is “Candy Crush Saga” and they trademarked “Candy”. It may be this point which is obscuring the problem (and confused/ distracted me) somewhat, if the game was actually simply called Candy would there be any opposition to the awarding of the trademark itself?

          Perhaps the other confusing factor is that we can see how not allowing trademarking of common words would fix some of the problems with the trademark system but that doesn’t mean that allowing it is itself the problem. A lack of subtlety when dealing with constituent words is perhaps more significant.

          If I consider your post to be pedantic it is pedantic in a good way.

  34. Hanamigi says:

    I feel compelled to suggest “The path of Kara”, a game that I discovered on my wp8, it has the journey/adventure element, the highscore element, but each level has a special theme and different tasks to complete. link to anshar.eu link to windowsphone.com

    edit: also, the piyo blocks link sends to triple town on steam.

  35. Baf says:

    The amazing thing about the original Puzzle Quest is how much better it is than most of the games that tried to imitate it.

    In any other medium, that would be expected: for every Star Wars, there’s a hundred cheap Star Wars knock-offs that feel more like Flash Gordon because the filmmakers have no idea what made Star Wars special. But in games, we’re used to the seminal genre-establishing ones to be crude first attempts at ideas that later titles refine.

    But Puzzle Quest’s imitators — and I’m counting both direct imitations, like Gyromancer, and the wider genre of PQ-inspired abstract-game-used-as-combat-mechanic-in-RPG, like Runespell: Overture — nearly always simplify away the things that made PQ interesting. To me, there are two key features: first, that you and the opponent are both playing on the same board, so that your moves directly affect what the opponent can do, and second, that the special powers that the board powers up are also largely things that affect the board. So for example maybe the opponent needs yellow mana to cast his spells, and you have a green spell that wipes all the yellow from the board, so you’re trying to make green matches to power your spell but at the same time you’re trying to break up any yellow stuff so your opponent can’t get it, and maybe you’re occasionally making a yellow match yourself just to prevent the opponent from getting it. It’s this very tight knot of gameplay and feedback. But I guess designing a game like that is harder than just wrapping a hit point system around an unrelated mini-game and letting the effects flow in only one direction.

    • Premium User Badge

      Risingson says:

      However, Puzzle Quest is really really broken. There are a couple of spells that are overpowered to the absurd. Fun game though.

  36. hypercrisis says:

    No mention of Columns in your brief history? I can’t think of a more significant early entry in this genre

  37. Rufust Firefly says:

    I really like the Doctor Who: Legacy game, which does have some in-game purchases but it’s mostly extra characters. It is a bit grind-y, but they add new content all the time.

  38. WonderAleph says:

    I really like Dungeon raid too.
    Such a nice game for Android.

  39. mistwolf says:

    If you want the Candy Crush experience while supporting an entirely different Evil Corporation, Disney’s Frozen game is well worth a play.

  40. edwardh says:

    £112.97?! Are these people fucking insane?! O_O

  41. catigator says:

    While I generally hate King’s practices, this CandySwipe guy seems pretty dumb. CandyCrush Saga had a bunch of similar elements, but nothing approaching straight up plagiarism or cloning and it even has pretty different gameplay. Having a candy themed game means a lot of your assets are going to look similar, just the same as there are an incredible amount of similar looking FPS games. So if I don’t agree with his opposition for the CanduCrush trademark, why would King? And does he even remotely think that they’d change the name of their millions-of-dollars-a-day game because of it? Of course they’re going to try and shut him and his oppisition down as hard as they can. They would never have done this if he hadn’t gone after them in the first place. Play with fire and you get burnt…