Candy Crush Saga would be perhaps an ill-fitting choice for the game of 2013: it was hardly the "best" game of the year by traditional "Game of the Year" metrics, and it didn't even release in 2013. But Candy Crush Saga was still the game that defined mobile gaming in 2013.
There weren't many games that were the cultural phenomenon that Candy Crush Saga was: walk down the aisle of an airplane and there was always someone on a tablet or phone matching fruits around. It was the one mobile game that friends who never talked about mobile gaming would talk about. And it wasn't just casual gamers: anyone who's friends with Touch Arcade editor Eli Hodapp on Facebook suffered the wrath of his lives requests for a while there.
The thing that was most fascinating about Candy Crush Saga, though? Did anyone really have an unequivocal, gushing love for it? Whenever the game would be brought up, there was always some degree of resentment toward it for being so addictive, in the sense that people just could not stop playing, paying, and bugging their Facebook friends with requests.
Candy Crush Saga gets its first expansion ever, titled Dreamworld. It takes players to a parallel world that provides them with magical changes as they enter Dreamworld mode. This allows users who've completed level 50 on the Saga map to replay those stages with new challenges.
“We’re thrilled to offer new and existing Candy Crush Saga players an exciting new way of playing the game” said Tommy Palm, Games Guru at King, in a press release. “We hope that the new ‘Dreamworld’ mode will prove a fun twist for newcomers to the game and a tantalizing challenge for our loyal fanbase. As with all our games, we endeavor to offer our valued players a regular flow of exciting new content – we hope that they will love the new map, as much as we’ve enjoyed developing it.”
King is in a celebratory mood today because it's been one year to the day that its popular game, Candy Crush Saga, has launched. To celebrate, King has released an infographic with plenty of interesting numbers, which include that the game has been installed over half a billion times across all platforms. Wowza! They've also mentioned that new updates will be on the way in the coming weeks.
“The past year has been one of the most exciting times for King since Candy Crush Saga launched on mobile,” says Tommy Palm, Games Guru at King, in a press release. “The incredible milestone of more than half a billion downloads of the game, as well as the continued enthusiasm from our community, really delights the entire King team. Fans can look forward to even more exciting new Candy Crush Saga content over the coming months, including an exciting new twist to the game.”
People have been going nuts for Candy Crush Saga. I mean nuts. And yet, it's still growing.
The latest update adds a new episode, titled Rainbow Runway. You'll be helping Minty the unicorn across 440 new levels, presumably crushing candy along the way. 440! That's freaking ridiculous! It's like a dentist's never-ending nightmare.
Candy Crush Saga meets X-Com meets Game of Thrones? It's an impressive mix of genres and ideas, and it forms the basis for a new title called Pocket Titans. A turn based RPG puzzle adventure game, Pocket Titans certainly sounds pretty exciting. Its origins are quite something too, having been conceived by veteran developers, John Payne & Ian Pestridge. Between them, they've worked on a number of console releases, including Herdy Gerdy, In Cold Blood, SEGA Rally, Reservoir Dogs, and Dead to Rights: Retribution.
For the past 18 months, the pair have been working on Pocket Titans in their spare time, all in the name of flexing their creative muscles. With the game set for release soon, we took the time to find out more.
148apps: Where did the inspiration for Pocket Titans come from? John Payne (JP): There were a few different strands of inspiration which led to Pocket Titans. I've always been a fan of RPG fighting mechanics like the semi-turn-based Final Fantasy battles, or the group dynamics of big World of Warcraft boss fights. My original idea was to do a game which was a series of these massive fight moments without the RPG story and running around in between. Then I got in to Zoo Keeper on my iPhone (entirely my wife's fault), and I mean really in to it, in a way I'd not really experienced with match 3 games before. The game play felt really tactile, and moving through levels with just a little bit of story felt right. I'd always been a fan of the old X-COM games (not knowing at the time that there was a brilliant new one coming out that year!) and games like Advance Wars, and those three strands came together to form the idea for Pocket Titans. It's the class based RPG battles of World of Warcraft, the tactile movement and easy pick-up play of a match 3 and the tactical positioning of X-COM.
As John says the game condenses many of the elements associated with RPGs and has been developed to be very accessible. I took recognisable fantasy motifs and caricatured them, resulting in a look that 'feels' familiar and yet 'looks' unique and full of spirit.
148apps: How difficult has it been to find the spare time to create Pocket Titans? IP: The short answer is not very difficult at all. We believe that if you had fun making a game it shows through. The players can sense that freedom and enjoyment. So we promised ourselves that we would focus on having fun and avoiding stress.
JP: The great thing about a home project is you can park it for as long as you need to when life gets in the way. During development there were weeks when I didn't really do anything on the game, and weeks where I'd do an hour or two most nights, it fitted in around everything else. I set myself a rule very early on that I'd never let it distract me from my day job and in the end the whole process was fun and relaxing. The game's been 99% finished for quite a while so its certainly the most relaxed end to a project I've ever had!
IP: We both have similar family situations and day jobs. I've generally been using the couple of hours I'd usually spend watching TV or a movie after the kids have gone to bed to jump on the PC and create some artwork. Ultimately, we enjoy making games, so this has been a great experience.
148apps: What challenges have you faced during the production? JP: Early on in development it became clear I wasn't going to be able to do it by myself, especially when I realised quite how bad my programmer-art was. At that point I almost gave up on the project and probably would have if I hadn't shown it to Ian.
IP: I loved the game from the moment I saw John's early prototype. The greatest challenge was translating the aesthetics of the world we both imagined onto the moving tile mechanic, it's that challenge that first attracted me to John's concept and has kept it so interesting.
148apps: How different is it working on a personal project rather than as part of a big studio? JP: I've been lucky enough to work with lots of talented and creative people in my day job and I love every minute of it. That said, creating Pocket Titans has given us a chance to do something that's just ours, without any other stakeholders or any outside direction. It was great fun to make but also a little bit terrifying now people are playing it other than our friends!
148apps: Will there be any micro-transactions within the game? JP: The best way to play the game is to work through story mode looting weapons and armour from the Orcs and Skeletons you defeat. But we've also got multi-player battles in there and if people want to tool up to level things out with their friends we're not going to stop them. You can use gold you collect during quests to grab any items you're missing and if you really want to make things easy you can buy a bit of gold, but we hope people play through the whole story as there's some amazing battles at the end that you don't want to miss!
Thanks to John and Ian for taking the time to answer our questions.
Pocket Titans is set for release later this month. We'll be sure to track its development. In the mean time, why not check out the beta trailer below? It's looking pretty sweet.
What do the following iOS apps and games have in common? Well, they all surprised the heck out of us when they were released. That's saying something, considering we're all jaded journalists and such.
Apps that come along and knock our socks off are rare, so we've put together a list of ten of the most surprising apps from the last five years of the App Store to commemorate that fact, and to maybe show you some cool stuff you might have missed.
These are the apps that came out of left field, making innovative use of iOS hardware and software to bring us a truly unexpected experience.
Hipstamatic - The grandaddy of hipster photo apps, Hipstamatic created the crop and filter genre, with switchable virtual lenses and film types to apply to your ironic images.
Word Lens - Aim your iPhone camera at a sign in another language and see it magically transformed right on your device. If this isn't transformative tech, I don't know what is.
Cycloramic - This one lets you set your iPhone down on a hard surface, then uses the built-in vibration feature to spin around in a circle, taking a 360-degree video of the entire process. Wow!
Dark Sky - This innovative weather app does one thing really well: warn you when it's going to rain. You can even get a 5 minute warning, which is enough to get your umbrella out and stay dry!
Star Walk - Astronomy apps have been all the rage, especially since the iPad came out. But this one lets you hold your iOS device up to the sky, and it will show you what stars and other heavenly objects are up there, in real time. Heck, you can even track Santa with it during the holidays.
These games either came out of nowhere and burned themselves into the collective unconscious, or were so bizarrely fun and successful that they had to be mentioned here.
Game Dev Story - We've spent entire days in thrall to this cleverly addictive saga of video game development, putting our retro-styled pixel people through their paces to push out the next great hit.
Candy Crush Saga - What's so surprising about a match-three game becoming the top-grossing app in just a few weeks? Well, it's a match-three game.
Tiny Wings - One indie dev, Andreas Illiger, sat down and created this brilliant piece of game design, popularizing the one-touch game genre and garnering a ton of copycat and clone apps in the bargain. Plus, he made a lot of money, which we like to talk about, too.
Angry Birds - Did you ever think that flinging birds in a slingshot at pigs in bizarre structures would turn into a global hit, spawning way too many tie-in items, like fishing lures? Us, neither.
10000000 - Small, brutally difficult indie game that became a smash hit overnight. That's pretty surprising, right?
While games may not be the largest percentage of apps in the App Store (non-games lead the way overwhelmingly), they are the most popular single category, with over 151,000 active games in the App Store as of this month, according to 148Apps.biz.
One could argue, and indeed I will, that games are the most transformative type of app in the App Store, bringing a quality of play to iOS devices previously impossible to achieve. As 148Apps staffers have been heard to proclaim, there are over 1.2 billion thumbs waiting to play games on these crafty little devices.
Of course, there have been landmark games since the App Store went live in 2008, titles that create, extend, and improve on the current state of the art. Here then, are the top 20 of those games, as chosen by your App Experts at 148Apps.
Doodle Jump - This one started the jumping game craze, inspiring a host of clones and imitators along the way.
Angry Birds - Need we say more? The grumpy avians have taken over the public consciousness.
Tiny Wings - Not just another bird game, Tiny Wings showed us how one mechanic, brilliantly executed, could take an unknown designer to untold heights.
Candy Crush Saga - Good heavens we still get a lot of invites for this casual, money-printing game.
Clash of Clans - Say what you will about free to play, but this game has gotten it right.
Tiny Tower - Nimblebit hit the jackpot here with a smart combination of tower building and free to play retro gaming.
Temple Run - If anyone deserved to have a huge hit, it's the folks at Imangi Studios, who have been pushing the boundaries of quality gaming from the beginning. This one created the 3D endless runner genre at a breakneck speed!
Puzzles & Dragons - Another free to play darling, this one gets all the elements right to keep players entertained and paying.
Where's My Water? - Disney's breakout hit, with a new IP (intellectual property) and a fiendishly addictive mechanic.
Pocket God - 47 updates later, still going strong and keeping kids of all ages entertained and laughing.
Minecraft Pocket Edition - The surprise PC hit the iPhone like a ton of cube-shaped bricks, letting crafters and miners of all stripe build and explore on the go.
Words with Friends - Scrabble with people you know. What's not to like? This one started the "with friends" genre with a bang.
Draw Something - Super successful, super quick, leading Zynga to buy the developer for a landmark price.
Infinity Blade - This game set the bar high for utter gorgeousness and a fighting mechanic that still sees itself in current games on the App Store, some two and a half years later.
Canabalt - Heard of the endless runner genre? Canabalt started it all with a one-touch game that exploded onto the scene in 2009 and has remained in the collective imagination ever since.
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP - This one proves again and again that the indie spirit can be captured and distributed via mobile, with a game that may never have gotten noticed on the bigger consoles.
Galaxy on Fire 2 - This space exploration and dogfighting game set the standard for utter gorgeousness, as well as finding a way to build a space sim on a tiny mobile device.
Spaceteam - Don't forget to flush the four-stroke plucker! Wait, what? Play this game with a few of your (drinking) friends, and you'll see what multiplayer party games *should* be like.
Real Racing - Still the gold standard for racing games on a mobile platform, the original game hit the starting line in 2011, with sequels upping the ante on visuals, controls, and profitability.
Super Hexagon - If you hate yourself, play this brutally difficult yet strangely compelling arcade game and thank indie developer Terry Cavanaugh in the morning.
King, the company behind Candy Crush Saga, has partnered with Happy Socks to bring forth stylish and, hopefully, comfortable socks inspired by Candy Crush Saga. One pair is based on the chocolaty Color Bomb while the other is based on Striped Candy. You can pre-order the socks exclusively on the Happy Socks website at $12 dollars each. The custom Candy Crush Saga socks come in universal sizes for both men and women.
"Candy Crush Saga has become nothing short of a worldwide phenomenon- a game that people can play and enjoy anywhere, any time. With that in mind, it's only fitting that the first licensing deal is with Happy Socks, giving all those who love the game the chance to revel in the fun of Candy Crush Saga, literally right down to their toes.” said Riccardo Zacconi, King’s CEO and co-founder, in a press release.
Obviously, I wasn't so sure about this news as I began reading about it, but once I saw those socks, I became ecstatic!
Fresh from the (ahem) crushing success of King's Candy Crush Saga, the Facebook and mobile casual game developer announced today that yet another top ten Facebook game, Pet Rescue Saga, is scheduled to release on mobile early this summer.
King says that the current Facebook iteration of Pet Rescue Saga is the third overall largest game on Facebook with over six million daily players. The iOS and Android app will be available early this summer on iTunes and Google Play. This is the third mobile release for the casual gaming company, with Candy Crush Saga seeing over 500 million plays a day on mobile. A day. Sheesh.
Stay tuned for more details as they become available.