Candy Crush has become one of the most profitable games in the world, and it’s no surprise that game publishers are looking for ways to cash in on its success. It should also be no surprise that a game named “Sugar Rush” is one of those me-too apps trying to catch the eyes of the Candy Crush audience.
That characterization isn’t completely fair. Sugar Rush doesn’t try to copy Candy Crush’s gameplay — it’s a bubble popper, not a gem swapper. On the other hand, it’s got all of Candy Crush’s visual elements down pat, from the old-fashioned candies to the cardboard cutout look of the characters and the slightly creepy carnival barker host. There’s nothing wrong with trying to emulate a popular game, it’s just interesting that Sugar Rush is so blatant about it.
The game has its own flavor, though. Each round starts with a screen full of candies and sixty seconds on the clock. Your job is to tap groups of three or more candies, which will explode and give you points. You can also swipe the candies upwards and downwards, which can help you build larger groups that score more points. There’s a jackpot meter that grows as you tap groups, and a variety of special candies that explode or bounce around the screen scoring — you guessed it — more points.
There are power-ups to buy that will help increase your score, but what’s impressive is how casual the game is. There’s no way to lose, and mistakes just reduce your score multiplier. Even a mediocre round will end with you popping a lot of candies and racking up a six-figure score. If you’ve got five minutes and nothing better to do, this can be a very satisfying game.
However, the game may also be a little too casual. The daily and weekly high score contests give you a reason to push your score up, but there’s nothing to give you a sense of progress and improvement. You don’t level up over time, and the difficulty never increases. You’re playing the same level over and over again, and the only thing that changes is your high score.
There’s an appealing purity to this approach. The basic game is fun, so why not rely on players’ intrinsic motivation to get better at it?
The problem is that it’s hard to improve on a high score in a limited game environment. There are only so many candies you can tap in sixty seconds, and only so many extra points that you can get from power-ups. The “rare” power-ups that the game offers in exchange for premium currency can give you a big boost, but once you’ve set a good high score you’re going to spend a lot of games racking up yet another okay score.
You also get occasional extra rewards from completing “weekly challenges,” but there’s no list of these in the game. They’re unpredictable bonuses, not goals to work for. It doesn’t take long before the whole exercise starts to feel pointless.
Despite these issues, Sugar Rush has a lot to offer. It’s a simple game that rewards quick eyes and fingers. The exploding candies and their special powers are fun to watch, and a good community of friends will enjoy beating each other’s high scores.
If that’s enough to keep you entertained, then Sugar Rush is worth your time. If not, then you may want to look for a game that offers just a little bit more.