The sweetness of this puzzle game is soured by serious issues with its presentation

Social gaming has now grown to encompass just about every genre imaginable, but there’s still nothing that works quite as well as a good gem-matching puzzle game when it comes to satisfying the need for a quick fix. Pangalore’s new Pop the Candy app has just about every flavor you could desire, but its presentation leaves a slightly bitter aftertaste.

Pop the Candy takes a somewhat unique approach to gem matching, though there are also a handful of obvious cues taken from games such as Puzzle Fighter. Fruit gems are amassed on a game board, and it’s up to you to select groups of gems (two or more) to cash in. Each time you cash in a group of gems, the remaining gems fall together based on where you’ve pulled from the group. The bigger the group of gems, the more points you’ll get. It’s a simple premise, yet there’s a surprising amount of strategy required if you want to hit those really high scores.

Pop the Candy

There are two gauges at the top of the screen you’ll need to keep track of, the first being a quota of points for each level and the other gauge representing power-ups. The power-ups include a heavy weight that can be used to destroy an entire row of gems, as well as a paint brush that changes the color of all nearby gems, allowing you to cash in a bigger combo. Each time you allow the power-up gauge to fill up completely, you’ll gain access to a new, more effective power-up.

The gameplay in Pop the Candy is fun, challenging, and like Triple Town, it’s all about besting the high scores of your Facebook buddies. Translation: it’s deviously addictive, or at least it would be if it didn’t suffer from serious presentation issues.

Visually, Pop the Candy is attractive, and as a gem-matching game, it does pretty much everything it needs to do in order to satisfy a quick-fix craving. The game is colorful, the framerate runs smoothly, and the premise is cute and inviting. Unfortunately, the audio in the game is completely borked.

Pop the Candy

Voice blurbs are usually about 10-15 seconds out of sync with the gameplay, and the music and sound effects are constantly cutting in and out. It makes for a grating experience, and turning off the sound completely is really your best option. Take the carnival out of an arcade experience, however, and all you’re left with is a game that makes you feel like you’re working on an assembly line.

I want Pop the Candy to succeed. The formula is fresh, and more importantly, there’s incredible potential for fun here. But what’s a Steven Spielberg movie without the backing of a powerful John Williams soundtrack? Like just about every new game that hits Facebook these days, Pop the Candy is a “beta” release, so perhaps we can expect to see these issues addressed. Until then, check it out for yourself to see if this silent candy factory has the sweetness you’re looking for.