When a game series reaches mainstream relevance, it’s always interesting to see how the studio behind the game chooses to nurture its legacy in future games.

Candy Crush Saga from King built up infamy in two categories: Its fiendishly addictive gameplay, and its infuriating tendency to hobble the player by allowing only a certain number of moves with which to complete goals. King’s follow-up, Candy Crush Soda Saga, finds more ways to keep the player glued to the screen – but it also finds more ways to hamstring them in hopes they’ll get frustrated enough to buy more moves when the counter hits zero.

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Put it this way: when a match-three level runs out of moves – that is to say, when there are no more possible matches that can be made on a board – the pieces shuffle. Theoretically, shuffles should be rare, because a fair game should always provide players with at least a couple of possible moves. But in Candy Crush Soda Saga, you see the word “Shuffling” a lot. Addictive as Soda Saga is, it does everything in its power to make sure you stay anchored to the same level for hours.

Technically, Soda Saga doesn’t play too differently from the original Candy Crush Saga. You still score points by making matches of three or more candy pieces (which look and sound as delicious as ever), but there’s a little more to the story this time around. There are levels wherein you’re required to float “bubble bears” to the top of the screen by matching up pop bottles and saturating the game board (we’re talking about a combination of pop, candy, and gummy bears, also known as a dentist’s night terror).

Candy Crush Soda Saga Review

But there are also levels where you need to clear the game board of chocolate, release bears from sticky honey traps, and chip them out of ice blocks by making matches on top of said ice.

The “frosted bears” levels are particularly devious. You need to uncover the entirety of a bear to rescue it, but it’s almost never as easy as making a single match above them. Oftentimes, the ice has layers of obstacles piled on top of it, including tarts that are also piled high with clearable objects. It’s not uncommon to have to peel away three or four layers before you finally hit the ice and clear it away to expose a measly bear (or a section of a bear). That’s a lot of heavy lifting for a game that expects you to finish your appointed task in twenty or thirty moves.

Usually, your best shot at success in free-to-play match-three games involves matching up four or more pieces to create game pieces that pack an explosive punch and clear away obstacles. But Soda Saga’s small barrier-choked boards make it difficult to build yourself a break. The aforementioned “Shuffling” message pops up all too often, a good indication that paying for extra moves and / or power-ups is the preferred way to clear difficult levels before the year is out.

True, the original Candy Crush Saga is infamous for issuing the same “challenge,” but at least it waits until the higher levels before applying the thumbscrews. Soda Saga gets down to business by level 15 or so.

Candy Crush Soda Saga Review

The heck of it is, Soda Saga is still addictive as actual candy. You go back to it again and again because levels are passable – you just wind up trying again and again until the candy gods take pity on you and finally issue a board that gives you a fair chance at succeeding. Even so, Candy Crush Soda Saga’s addictive nature isn’t enough to erase the uneasy feeling that you’re getting a screw job on those infernal frosted bears levels.

Need a little help washing this soda down? Be sure to check out Gamezebo’s Candy Crush Soda Saga Tips, Cheats and Strategies.