The sweetest things in life are free

Candy: it’s usually not healthy for you, but it sure does taste good going down. Fortunately, publisher Vostu’s latest Facebook offering isn’t bad for your teeth, nor is its sugary sweet premise too much to stomach. Candy Dash takes a page from the Bust-a-Move recipe book and adds lots and lots of sweetness.

To be clear, the game’s title is a bit of an exaggeration. Candy Dash isn’t actually all that frantic in terms of gameplay, but its bright presentation and urgent musical themes do add excitement to the mix.

You play as Princess Isabella who is tasked by her father the king to traverse the land in search of all of the world’s candy recipes; succeed in your quest, and dear ol’ dad will crown you the next queen. The story is kind of silly, but the developers manage to cleverly weave adventure bits into the gameplay in ways that will keep you smiling the entire time.

Candy Dash

If you’re new to the concept, Candy Dash has you matching three or more pieces of candy in order to make groups of candies fall. With every few turns you take, the rows of candy move closer to the bottom of the screen; if the candy gets too low, it’s game over. It’s very similar to Facebook games like Bubble Island and Bubble Atlantis.

Mixed in with the candy are stars you must collect in order to unlock each world’s boss level. You won’t need to collect them all in order to unlock bosses, though there are incentives in place for completionists. Matching groups of candies in a row increases your points multiplier, as do wrapped candies, and you’ll earn coins that can be spent on power-ups for additional help.

With all these little extras, Candy Dash manages to take a tried-and-true formula and make it completely addictive. Often, you’ll be required to bounce candy off walls in order to make a match, and the game’s story takes little sidesteps that play into the level design in delightful ways.

Candy Dash

Perhaps the game’s greatest feature is in how the candy is doled out. You’ll use one point of energy for each level played, with energy replenishing at a rate of once every five minutes. However, you’ll regularly be given the option to “share” certain gameplay achievements with your Facebook friends in order to earn energy on the quick. Either way, your wait to play is never more than a gumdrop away.

The presentation is also a rainbow of flavors, with cute characters and plenty of candy variety. The visuals are vibrant and polished, with music and sound effects to match. Though I enjoyed every clink of coin and chime of candy falling, the inviting art style is stymied somewhat by a game that makes no concessions for older PCs. Load times are bit too long, and the frame rate does tend to drag at times.

In spite of some minor quibbles, Candy Dash is an absolute treat in every sense of the word. From the colorful, playful art style, to the wonderfully balanced and varied gameplay, this is one of the best takes on Bust-a-Move I’ve played in a good, long while. Without hesitation, I give this particular morsel of gaming goodness a hearty recommendation.