Me, Candy Crush, and this Game Show thing: A Few Thoughts

Why the heck am I writing about a game show? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because I am a huge fan of the Candy Crush mobile game. Every week, fifteen new levels are released, and every week, without fail, I make it to the last level, which at the time of this writing is nearing 2,700. So I got a little excited when the game show was announced to be coming to TV. Until, that is, I realised what a horrible idea that was. And still is. Let me explain why this show is not only terrible, but also rigged. And no, this isn’t a TV Showcase. A show like this isn’t really worth one. 

So, “Candy Crush”, the TV game show, began airing in July 2017 and is still going. I’ve watched all five episodes so far, and each one has been about the same. Here’s how the show works: there are four teams of two, who play easy Candy Crush challenges on small boards as a qualifying round, and whoever wins gets to pick one of four challenges. All four teams do this, so there are three qualifying rounds and four challenges. The challenges involve some physical element, like hanging over a giant digital candy board, or being strapped together or something, and whichever two teams makes the most matches go head to head in the finale. In the finale (called the “Ultimate Candy Clash”), the two teams each send one guy to try and being a digital key down to the bottom of a horizontal board, and when that happens, the guy takes control of some joysticks that move his partner up and down a giant vertical board, and whichever team makes fifty matches first wins. And all that takes an hour. A whole hour. And I’ll bet that you read most of that and it either didn’t make any sense to you or sounded incredibly boring. Well, it is.

First of all, the teams they pick by and large are probably not players of the actual Candy Crush game, because they miss the easiest matches and lose because they freak out and start swapping random candies, which obviously doesn’t work. For anyone who’s ever played the game, or Bejeweled, or any other match-three clone, it’s hair-pulling to see the simplest matches missed. Are these people colour-blind? Actually, even if they were, each candy is a unique shape, so they have no excuse anyway. And before you say, “Well, Michael, if you knew it would be so bad, why weren’t you on it?”, for the record, I did actually apply with a partner, but obviously, I wasn’t taken. So there. Anyway, what’s next?

Oh yeah, the game isn’t fun. I don’t want to watch someone play on a digital board. “Be progressive, Michael. There are YouTube and Twitch streams every day where thousands of people watch someone play video games.” Yeah, but how long would that last if the streamer played mobile games? Maybe he could get away with a stream or two of really unique or hilariously bad games, but not much more. Why would you want to spend an hour watching someone play Candy Crush over their shoulder? It’s not even something like a life-size Candy Crush alternative game, like playing chess where people are the pieces or something. It doesn’t look fun for anybody but the contestants. It doesn’t look fun for the audience in their little “Muppet Show” windows, it doesn’t look fun for the host Mario Lopez, and it certainly isn’t fun to watch a digital screen on a digital TV screen. But that ain’t all, folks, because here’s the interesting bit.

“Candy Crush” is rigged. Now, in the game, when you make a match, those candies disappear, creating a gap of however many candies you just cleared, so a digital algorithm has to randomly generate more. And with only five or six kinds of candy in the game, there’s a good chance of getting a free match, or even a few. In the mobile game, the levels have a range of how generous that algorithm is, whether it gives you tons of free or easy matches on a really hard level, or whether you barely get any on a long or easy level, and anywhere in between. The algorithm on the show seems to lean towards the “fewer free matches” side, but sometimes it simply goes in the complete opposite direction.

For instance, and I’ve seen this on almost every episode, a team will do their challenge really well and get a bunch of matches, making almost every one themselves, with no help from the algorithm. Then one of the other teams who are terrible will get up there and make four or five actual matches and be given tons of free matches by the algorithm, smashing the good team’s score and taking first place. And in the Ultimate Candy Clash, there’s no guarantee that the algorithm will be fair in getting the key to the bottom of the horizontal board. In episode five (which for me at this time is the most recent one), one team got the key and made their entire fifty matches while the other team couldn’t even get the key to the bottom, because the algorithm was spawning such awful matches in terrible places. It makes me as a viewer feel cheated of any real challenge, and it makes me mad for the team that gets screwed over. It looks to me like the “Candy Crush” TV algorithm was poorly put together, and the show is entirely rigged because of that, which is why the skill levels of the teams don’t even matter, since the challenges are left almost entirely up to luck of the draw.

First of all, why would you ever make a mobile game into a TV game show at all? Second of all, why a match-three game, when other mobile games would have worked better, like Temple Run, Fruit Ninja, or even Classic Snake (or I guess Slither.io is all the rage now, huh?)! Any of those choices still would have been bad, by the way, but not nearly as bad as Candy Crush. Activision and King, who make Candy Crush, should just stick to the iPhone, Facebook, and the occasional appearance in lazy, unentertaining movies like The Emoji Movie. Stay off of TV. Thank goodness it looks like there will only be eight episodes all together, and then it’s gone.

This show makes me so agitated that I felt like I needed to say all of that. The show may have won the Guinness World Record for largest digital screen, but it ain’t breaking any records in entertainment. If you want a good game show, stick with The Match Game, or Now You See It, or I’ve Got a Secret, or You Bet Your Life… yeah, I watch alot of Buzzr.

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