Back in 2012, a game was released that established mobile and casual gaming as not only a force to be reckoned with, but the most dominating force in the market today. No, that game is not Alpha Betty Saga. The game I am referring to is one that even starving kids in the Congo know. A game that everyone plays, even if they say they don’t. It’s a game that essentially stole a variety of mechanics of other casual puzzle games and put them all together into one game and put a snazzy title on it. The game gets progressively harder as you make progress, almost to the point of where progress is only happening if you are buying “power-ups” for $.99 a pop. Cheap, yeah? Until you realized someone in your household has bought fifty of those power-ups to beat level 300. That game is called Candy Crush Saga. A game so successful, that Activision Blizzard (World of Warcraft) purchased King, the company that made it, for almost $6 billion.
I tried to play Candy Crush Saga (CCS), but I learned that I really suck at plotting and planning how candy stacks collapse on top of each other and about 60 levels in, I was ready to start machine gunning the BUY MORE CHANCES! button. I had to stop. I was ready to throw my phone at the TV. I was ready to learn different foreign languages so I could have even more ways to yell “FUCK YOU!” as my attempts to get a sprinkle covered donut failed. I removed that shit ASAP. I hadn’t been this frustrated at a video game since I lost Donatello, the most powerful Ninja Turtle in the first NES game, to the fucking seaweed in the reservoir stage.
I did eventually return to King when I learned of a new take on the CCS formula. One that involved something I could control a bit better: Words. Finally, a game where I could dominate and be awesome because hey, I don’t suck at word games. You know what King is really good at? Fucking up your hopes. That’s what. While not as bad as CCS, Alpha Betty has some gnarly mechanics that will drive you bananas.
This game is fun, regardless of the frustration. It has vivid colors and interesting mechanics that change as the player progresses through the game. You obtain power-ups from certain hero type characters and you can even buy power-ups if that’s your thing. I haven’t bought power-ups for the game yet, but I have not played it as much either, just because of that temptation. The game functions just as CCS does. You start, you choose levels from a map that seemingly goes on forever and you try to defeat the level, or, if you’re like me, you attempt to get three stars for every level.
This is what a level looks like. Instead of pieces of candy, there are tiles with letters on them. Instead of being covered in chocolate or whatever fresh hell the developers make things harder with, you get vines or bubbles on the tiles. Instead of matching candies for special results, you spell words, long and short, to get different power-ups, which can be both simple and frustrating.
The gameplay is straightforward. Look at the screen, study the letters, drag your finger between letters and make words. Then pray that the next letters that fall are not a bunch of shit consonants like X and Q. Each level has a particular mission you have to achieve and that means no matter how well you do, if you don’t complete that mission, you’re fucked. Also, you have to complete each mission in so many moves. The developers made it to where it feels like getting three stars is a major accomplishment, but they have also created a situation where you can miss those three stars by a small margin and thus, mass shooting commences.
If you are just a fan of plain word games with no hang ups, I highly suggest a strong pass on this game. Your ability to spell words is hindered by the special boosters, blockers and pitfalls that each stage presents. However, if you want a different kind of word game that is as fun as it is challenging, I suggest you put this game on your phone and partake in the excitement!
Some Interesting Tidbits
- The game is divided into 21 episodes with catchy names like Cheese Henge, The Chessamids, Mount Mousemore, Mousechu Pichu, Cheeseballa, and Mouselantis to name a few. There are currently 320 available levels to play.
- The story is about mice in the 1930s. The developers have implemented 1930s artwork and brought it to life through anthropomorphism. It’s about a young mouse and her family traveling the world in search of new words. By new words, they mean the words you can come up with on the game board.
- The different tile types are:
- Blank – These are wild card style tiles.
- Silver – The value of the tile is doubled.
- Gold – The value of the word is doubled.
- Blue Bubble – When the tile is removed, the bubble pops.
- Pink Bubbles – This is like having two bubbles on one tile.
- Spread Cheese – Cheese spread is under the tile and when you make words or use line blasters, the cheese spreads.
- Line Blaster – Destroys the tile an takes out everything in the line, including some of the blockers. They can be 2 way, 4 way, or 6 way depending on the number of letters used to create the line blaster.
- Crown – does things with tiles based on level types:
- Score – One random tile is taken away.
- Bubble Pop – Destroys an extra, random bubble.
- Cheese Falls – Takes out a tile under a piece of cheese.
- Word Frenzy – Add one letter to your word, a 4 letter word is suddenly counted as 5 letters.
- Growth Mode – Cheese spreads to an adjacent square. If there are no options, cheese spreads in an isolated area.
- Cheesy Plate – Removes blockers, then the next numbered plates.
- In levels with rocks, the crown removes a single level of rock.
- There are currently six level types which require you to do certain things to win:
- Score – Reach the required score to win.
- Cheese Falls – Bring down chunks of cheese by clearing tiles under them.
- Bubble Pop – You have to pop bubbles on tiles until the bubbles are gone.
- Word Frenzy – You will be tasked with creating a certain number of words with certain lengths.
- Growth Mode – You have to spread cheese from the starting tile by creating words containing tiles with cheese on them.
- Cheesy Plate – Numbered plates that must be played in a specific order.
- Boosters are things that you can purchase to help you smash harder levels. Some of the boosters are:
- Big Blaster – This is an 8-way line blaster.
- Shuffle – Don’t care much for your tile set up? Shuffle them!
- Extra Moves – At the end of a game this adds five extra moves.
- King Crown – Three random crowns are placed at the beginning or end of a round.
- Line Blaster – Place a two way line blast wherever you want.
- Hammer – Can destroy any tile.
- Crown Cannon – Bonus crowns are given when you make words longer than 5 letters.
- Another feature that assists you quite a a bit are the mouse helpers that you choose in the library. There are two different mice to choose for each act. They give you special boosts like extra crowns and extra moves and they increase your score. They also remove certain things from maps. These mice can be leveled up to become more powerful!
- Blockers are the things on each map that make you question your sanity. The devious ways these things are used will make you yearn for anger management.
- Mousetrap – This thing block a new, random tile after each move.
- Stone Block – Has levels o hardness. To make it go away you must make words that touch it.
- Entangler – You must use the tiles wrapped in the entangler to make the vines go away. The letter does not go away, just the vines.
- Move Stealer – If this explodes, you lose some of your moves. This is bad for people wanting three stars.
- Codex – Opens and closes every move. Can’t be played on or removed when closed.
- Exclamator – This blocker can only be used at the end of a word.
- Crown Magnet – Steals your crowns and doesn’t let go of them until it is destroyed.
If you want more specific information, visit the Alpha Betty Saga Wiki, where I get most of my information from!
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