Sawbuck Gamer

Cookie Clicker

Chips Ahoy

Cookie Clicker sits you atop a throne of your own decadence.

By Steve Heisler • October 2, 2013

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap game ($10 or less).

It was prescient to release Cookie Clicker at the same moment Breaking Bad was airing its final season (no plot details here, don’t worry). The two share a chemical bond: On Breaking Bad, drug kingpin Walter White is not merely content with making more money than he can spend in countless lifetimes. In his words, he’s not in the business of cooking crystal meth. He’s “in the empire business.” The Candy Box-esque Cookie Clicker starts you off with a handful of cookies, obtained by clicking on a big picture of one, then provides you with ample opportunities to increase your supply—multiplying production by a hundred, then a thousand, and then it never stops.

To match how ludicrously large your cookie collection can become (we’re talking in the hundreds of billions), the game asks that players use equally ludicrous means to make it grow. It starts with amassing an army of sweet grandmothers to help with baking, and along the way involves expeditions to the cookie planet and time machines to pick up cookies before they were even eaten. There is no pause between, say, opening your first cookie farm or heading out for your first spelunking mission inside the cookie mine. This cookie game is the purest of cheese.

Like Walter White, the hubris of your early days comes back to jeopardize your exponentially growing cookie empire. Those innocent grandmas? They have sinister motives, only revealed when your cookie cup runneth over. Though Cookie Clicker is a game that relies on time alone—once auto-click is enabled, it basically runs itself—there is no loss in the purity of feeling like a cookie kingpin (at least until everything crumbles). For you are Cookie Ozymandias, King Of Kings.

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  • PugsMalone

    I AM THE ONE WHO CLICKS!

    Japanese fan artists had a field day with this game. Some of these are a bit NSFW.

    http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2013/09/18-1/cookie-clicker-takes-japanese-fan-artists-by-storm

    • beema

      oh japan, never change, you insane weirdos 

    • Effigy_Power

      Those Pixiv whack-jobs will find pornographic content in just about the flimsiest of settings. Trust them to turn pushing two Legos together into a 3 volume BDSM hentai.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      It pleases me greatly that at least one artist made grandma a six-winged seraphim posed in a field of neon crucifixes.
      It’s good to remember the Japanese are just more than tentacle hentai and shy, but eager school girls.
      They’re also about inscrutable Judeo-Christian allegory filtered through Jungian nightmarescapes.

    • Cloks

      That’s great and all, but here’s an action figure that someone in Japan made.

  • Unexpected Dave

    Speaking of Candy Box, the sequel’s release date has been announced as October 24, 2013, to coincide with the Game City festival in Nottingham.

  • rvb1023

    My roommate started playing this and by the end of the night he had written his own code to play the game for him. So I guess he won?

    These kind of games have never appealed to me, the sense of accomplishment just isn’t there and the joke wears thin pretty quick.

    • CrabNaga

      I just looked into the Javascript and gave myself a quintillion cookies. You actually get a special achievement for “playing” in this manner.

    • The_Helmaroc_King

      I took a quick look at the back-end of the page, and, like Candy Box, this is another game coded entirely with (surprisingly robust) JavaScript. It doesn’t rely on a library like jQuery, either.

      For example, I was trying to find out how the cookie on the left was animated, since it looks like a Flash animation. Apparently it’s not an SWF object or even an HTML element; the image is loaded into memory on startup and drawn dynamically by the script. Like I said, surprisingly robust.

      • CrabNaga

        Is it wrong of us to derive more pleasure in deconstructing how these games are made than in actually playing them? I spent like an hour crawling through the various JS functions and parameters to figure out all the ins and outs of the game. I did the same thing with Candy Box, and really appreciated that every successive “stage” in that game has more and more complex JS associated with it.

        • The_Helmaroc_King

          Hey, I think it’s commendable, in a way. We’re not really playing the game, but it’s like someone gave me a really cool, pre-built Lego set: I might not be interested in playing with it as it was built, but I can certainly be impressed by how it was built and I can take it apart and reassemble it any way I want or use the same techniques to build something else entirely. After all, “Good [programmers] copy; great [programmers] steal.”

  • DrFlimFlam

    Sawbuck should cover the re-release of Microsoft pack-in Hover.

    It’s back. In browser form.

    • SamPlays

      Your wish has been granted.

  • beema

    I got a Breaking Bad notification for this?

  • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2013

    I have a dedicated machine that’s been running this game 24/7 for more than a month. So far I’m sitting on 28 quadrillion cookies all-time after three resets. I’m running a grandma-centric build with the minimum number of farms, factories, mines, shipments, and labs needed for the grandma multipliers with more emphasis on portals, time machines, and condensers and currently pushing out 34 billion cookies per second, which is about 50% better than my previous balanced build. How are you holding up?

    • Brainstrain

      I’m at 13 bill/sec. I still have a few upgrades to buy and a few cheevos to get, though. I just got the final milk upgrade yesterday. Haven’t reset yet – Orteil nerfs the heavenly chips with every update. Not sure when it will be worth it.

      • zzyzazazz

        It’s worth it now. They’re back to 2% cps increase per heavenly chip. I’m cuurently at over 50 billion per second, and a large part of that is heavenly chips. Plus with heavenly chips you’ll get back to where you were before the restart in a day or two.

    • chrisk

      why would you reset?

      • http://whatistheexcel.com/ Excel-2013

         Resetting progress grants heavenly chips for very high amounts of cookies obtained in the duration of that session, which increase base multiplier. Think of it as a kind of New Game+.

  • SamPlays

    *SPOILERS*

    So that game ends when you machinegun down the white-power militants who usurped your cookie empire, emancipate your protege cook, whom you forced to murder a cookie cooking competitor (not to mention watch your protoge’s girlfriend choke to death on cookie crumbs in her sleep), and die from your own hubris as you acknowledge the role your cookie empire ambitions played in your demise as you fall to the ground?

  • Carlton_Hungus

    I’m currently worried that the people in the office next to me will figure something I’m not working since my mouse clicks louder than the beating heart in my office floor.

  • Cloks

    I played this game for maybe three or four weeks before I got tired of it, but by that time I had 1200+ heavenly chips and was generating upwards of a billion cookies per second. I might come back when they add dungeons.

  • haikucaracha

    the cookies are moist / the grandmothers tell us this / and then they congeal

    • Unicron’s Head

      My game is starting to take that turn… The grandmas are now foaming at the mouth and I fear buying the exotic nuts and antigrandmas. 

  • saabmanlutz

    Like Tiny Tower, this isn’t a game you play. It’s a game that plays you.

  • El Pollo Diablo

    OK, screw you for showing me this. I’ve had it running for over a day to see how far it goes. I didn’t think that just watching a number increase could be so engrossing, but it is. It’s like an RPG in its purest form.

    I’ve amassed a trillion cookies several times, but then I blow it all upgrading my army of grandmas. 

    I don’t even particularly like cookies. But if this was Chorizo Clicker or something, I’d already be dead.