I’m no stranger to iPhone game addiction. I have a folder full of games I’ve spent legal tender on, as well as the ghosts of games that I've since deleted when they became "problems." A country’s obsession with Angry Birds turned it into a heavily discounted candy option that you now see by the checkout counter at your local CVS. And who can forget the Draw Something craze of March 2012? Remember the first time you opened Temple Run, and then immediately noticed that everyone else was playing it on the subway? (Oh, don’t even get me started on Temple Run 2.) There’s Letterpress, Tetris Blitz, Ridiculous Fishing, and now, the newest game: Candy Crush.
Don't be mistaken. This is not an endorsement. This is a warning about Candy Crush, the world’s most addictive iPhone game. It is more addictive than any form of FarmVille (RIP Zynga), more addictive than text messaging or even checking your Snapchats. This game needs no push messages to remind you it's been a day since you've played. Because it actually hasn't been a day. Actually, you haven't stopped playing in three days. Candy Crush has burnt a quick hole through your battery’s charge and prompted 3 a.m. Twitter rants that you don't even remember engaging in. Candy Crush my soul, more like.
The worst candy you've ever eaten (like Now-and-Laters!), Candy Crush is a cruel mix between the classic iPhone game Bejeweled and even more classic board game CandyLand—an endless virtual journey that forces you to re-arrange various candy pieces to rid yourself of evil jelly encasings and other woes I can't even imagine at this point, because I am currently stuck on Level 29 and I have been for about one full week.
The most evil thing about Candy Crush is its intrinsic "Time Out" system, in which a clock provides a "life" every half hour, forcing you to wait until those very lives appear before you can even consider feeding your addiction again. Sure, you can pay for lives (may god help your poor soul, if this is the case) but otherwise you're stuck on Candy Crush time. You'd think this would stop an obsessive like myself from playing endlessly, but thanks to some "helpful" (read: similarly addicted) Twitter followers, I've discovered a way to cheat myself into creating hours of uninterrupted Candy Crush play: by manipulating my iPhone’s clock.
If you turn that baby forward, you can seamlessly continue on your sticky sweet journey. (Beware, however: one Twitter user claims that her iMessages mysteriously malfunctioned after she time-traveled too far.) I myself have gone HOURS into the future at a time; I once forgot to set back to the proper time and ended up waking up four hours too early for work the next day. Another time, I accurately set my clock back, but Candy Crush saw my bluff and placed 400 minutes on my countdown clock. How do I live?
The trick, they say, is in the multipliers—those very special striped and packeted candies you get when lining up four or more same colored candies in a row. God forbid you get the coveted donut (I’ve been calling it a cronut, because I am so awful at this game that I have to wait forever to get one), which allows you to rid your board of all the same-colored candies at once. But often, even one donut isn’t enough to complete the level.
A Google search of “help me beat level 29 in Candy Crush before I end it all” came up with nothing, but one with “Candy Crush strategies” did bring some helpful tips for all you Crushers (help me) who are as stuck as I am. "Without the Sarcasm?’ says: “Work from the bottom up. The bottom candies tend to get stuck there and stay there, and more often than not you need fresh candy down there with lots of matches in order to clear the board. You can [also] repeatedly enter and exit levels to re-roll the starting candies.” Wait, so you don’t recommend I keep altering my iPhone’s time continuum? *nose continues to bleed*
I do not wish iPhone game addiction such as this on anyone. There is no greater despair, really, then realizing that your idle thoughts are flipping to the outline of a digital screen in your head, and realizing that you can visualize passing level 29, even though you know you can't, really. It is beginning to feel like an unsettling metaphor for my existence: I'm “stuck on 29,” I need a longer time out, and I need some real fucking candy. You’ve crushed me for good.
Lindsey Weber is an associate editor at Vulture. She is pleased to report that she has since made it to Level 38.