There’s no way that you’ve gotten to 2017 without playing at least a little bit of Candy Crush. The colorful match-three puzzle game came to mobile platforms in 2012, and it has spawned several rehashes, sequels, and imitators since. Even if you’re tired of the hype by now, you have to admit that it’s a neat little game. Candy Crush combines story elements with a simple match-three puzzle game, ultimately creating a game that manages to be both approachable and addicting.
Four years is a long life span for an app. Even with all of the new iterations and updates that the King development team have been pushing out, Candy Crush is starting to feel stale. If you talk with someone about the game, they’ll be less likely to praise it, and more likely to talk about how tired of it they are. Luckily, the match-three genre has always been a populated one, and so there are plenty of games to choose from if you’re looking for something that will give you that addictive puzzle fix.
Top Five Games like Candy Crush – 2018 List
5. Bubble Mania
I’ll come right out and say it: Bubble Mania isn’t really a match-three game. Bubble Mania is a bubble game, as you could probably infer from its title. Although its actual gameplay differs from Candy Crush’s, it’s still similar. In a bubble game, you control a bubble launcher, which is holding a bubble of a specific color. You tap at a cluster of other bubbles near the top of the screen, trying to make chains of the same color bubble. When you make the chain, the bubbles pop. The cluster near the top of the screen needs to be cleared entirely in order to win. I suppose you are technically having to match-three to win, but it doesn’t look anything like the other games on this list.
Like Candy Crush, Bubble Mania is really addicting. There are over 600 levels to be completed, and there are frequent free updates, which introduce new levels and powers. If you’re getting really tired of Candy Crush, then you would probably find this app to be more refreshing. It’s a different take on the match-three principle, but it still feels familiar. By advancing through levels, you’re able to explore colorful and fun new worlds and environments, while still being thoroughly challenged by the puzzles themselves.
4. Fruit Mania
Brought to you by the same developer of Bubble Mania, Fruit Mania is a more traditional match-three experience. Fruit Mania allows the user to complete challenging match-three puzzles in an attempt to earn as many stars as they can. As the user advances through levels, they’re able to explore a wide variety of worlds. In one level, you can be on a beach. In the next level, you can be in a medieval castle. Fruit Mania feels pretty different from level-to-level, which makes the game more fun to play. When I played Candy Crush, I sometimes was bored with how each level had pretty much the same backdrop. Fruit Mania doesn’t have a problem like that.
However, I have to say that Fruit Mania is a little too difficult. Fruit Mania boasts over 100 different levels, but I think that the game ramps up its difficulty steadily to the point where, around level 30, you’re floundering. These free-to-play puzzle games are able to make money when you purchase premium in-game currency, which gives you an advantage in some way, and makes the levels easier to complete. A good match-three game eases you into it, making it to where you get better at the game as it becomes more difficult. It seems to me like Fruit Mania wants your money way too soon, and it doesn’t make for a particularly fun experience.
3. Bejeweled Classic
Okay, I get it! Middle-aged women were playing Bejeweled way before they started playing Candy Crush. Bejeweled set the standard for match-three games, and it’s a bit of a disservice to PopCap games to say anything otherwise. However, I don’t think that Bejeweled ever attained the same cult-hit status as Candy Crush, and there may be fans of the mobile series who have never played it. Not to mention, Bejeweled’s app didn’t really become popular until their candy-loving successor came along.
Bejeweled Classic is a great game because it has a mode for everyone. I have always felt like story-based match-three games always sort of limit themselves by following a level progression system, and I’m glad that PopCap stays true to their roots by keeping some classic Bejeweled game modes in their mobile app. If you want to play the “normal” version of the game that you remember from the old days, you can still play arcade mode. If you want to play something less stressful and more relaxing, you can play zen mode. There are also several other, more unique modes for someone who wants something a little more out there. Being such an iconic brand, it’s no surprise that Bejeweled’s app delivers a multi-faceted (pun fully intended) gameplay experience that blends together the old and the new.
2. Cookie Jam
As Candy Crush loses popularity over time, it’s pretty amazing to watch how Cookie Jam is experiencing the
same meteoric rise. You’ve probably been exposed to Cookie Jam’s massive marketing campaign, featuring comedian Ken Jeong dressed in a cookie costume. All of those TV spots aren’t cheap, but it seems like it’s paying off. As of this writing, Cookie Jam is one of the highest grossing free apps on the iOS App Store. The developers of this game took a good hard look at the Candy Crush formula to success, and they were able to replicate it for themselves.
Cookie Jam, at first glance, is extremely similar to Candy Crush. Both games place an emphasis on sweet, colorful graphics. Both games involve the shuffling around of dessert foods. Both games feature a level progression system. They both offer plenty of content, with Cookie Jam having over 1000 (!!!) levels. So,
what sets Cookie Jam apart? It features an interesting mechanic that Candy Crush doesn’t have, which makes the game a little more entertaining than its counterpart. While you’re solving puzzles in Cookie Jam, you unlock ingredients, which are used to fill recipes. It may not seem like much, but this tiny addition makes the app feel much less like a grind, and more like an actual game. Candy Crush tends to feel unfulfilling at times, while the recipes in this game make it feel more like you’re accomplishing something.
1. Puzzles and Dragons
This pick may come as a surprise to some people. Puzzles and Dragons has been a bit of a dark horse in terms of match-three games, but I think that it has seen an explosion in popularity over the last few years that deserves mention. Puzzles and Dragons is entirely-story driven, and it acts as a really weird marriage between the casual puzzle and RPG genres. Although the crux of the app’s gameplay is its match-three combat system, the game enables the player to assemble a team of different fighters. The more points you score in match-three, the stronger your fighters are able to attack their enemies. Defeating enemies allows you to earn experience points and progress through different dungeons.
It may sound bizarre, but the concept actually works. Puzzles and Dragons is a fun take on a genre where every game tends to look the same. The game has seen a lot of success, with anime and Mario-themed iterations of the games being supported by the Nintendo 3DS. The game is also a bit more complex than its competitors, and it has a surprisingly large community of players who come together and discuss strategies for completing some of the more difficult dungeons. If you had told me that I would genuinely enjoy a game that was basically Candy Crush crossed with Pokemon, I’m not sure that I would believe you. Puzzles and Dragons is a really surprising game, though, and I think that it caught a lot of people off guard this year. I also think that its popularity will continue to grow as the game gains traction across multiple platforms.
…and many, many more
Although it would be impossible to truly capture the magic of the original Candy Crush, the apps on this list get pretty close. iOS developers watched in envious awe as Candy Crush seemingly became an overnight hit. There dozens upon dozens of companies out there right now who are trying to create games that imitate the original story-based match-three model. A quick search of the App Store will tell you that there is no shortage of Candy Crush look-alikes. Some are good, some are not so good. It’s ultimately up to you, the player, to determine which games fall under which category. Feel free to conduct your own research, and find which candy-inspired puzzle game is right for you.