After being air lifted onto a strange island, you get a job at a fast food joint to make ends meet. When things don’t go your way on the job, you quit abruptly and your entrepeunial spirit drives you to open up your own greasy restraunt. Thank goodness the economy of this island doesn’t require you to have any money or get a loan to buy a business! These events may sound like the premice of a fantastic new TLC reality show called Survivor on Restraunt Island (no one steal that idea, I may want to pitch it to a TV executative next week), but in fact they unfold in the beginning of Order Up!, a game from UTV Ignition just released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop. This game tasks players with overtaking a heap of dining establishments and turning them into five-star eateries.
Essentially, Order Up! is like a gaming salad composed of some leafy Diner Dash, crispy Cooking Mamma, and a smidgeon of FarmVille. Once you are settled in your own restraunt, you will need to effectively manage customer flow to keep everyone happy and eating, which you do by paying attention to the little emoticion over each table’s head. Grouchy customers should be waited on first to ensure you get the maximum tip from them. When you begin preparing their orders, you must also know what kind of seasonings the patrons like. One guy liked brown sugar on EVERYTHING, and was willing to tip handsomly for you to pander to his disgusting desires. Another patron wanted barbeque sauce on every dish – from a cold cut sandwich to his macaroni and cheese.
Here is where you will start each day in Order Up! -- in front of your restaurant
Preparing the food is no simple task. Each entree has several ingredients that must be prepared sperately. For example, when making a hamburger you have to cook the beef patty, tear up the lettuce, chop the tomato, and fry the fries. All of this is done by performing different gestures on the touch screen. There was some missed opportunity here; tasks such as tilting a frying pan around to coat it with butter would have been a lot more fun if it could have been tied in to the 3DS’s motion sensors instead of the touch screen. Every item will have a small indicator guage hovering over it so you can easily tell when you’re preparing it correctly and it is fit for consumption, but you can easily lose track of something and it will burn or eventually ignite and cause a kitchen fire. This is why utilizing your assistant chefs is extremely important. You get the first assistant for free, but each chef after him costs a certain amount of coin to hire. They come with certain strengths, like prowess at the deep frier, and a seperate ability such as inspiring diners to order the chef’s special (which will net you more profit). You will want to make sure you have the right assistant to achieve your goals, and you delegate tasks to them to help you serve everyone in a timely fashion.
Having a large variety of dishes on the menu, seasoning things to fit your guests’ strange tastes, and making food well will all have a huge impact on the amount of money you make. You will need large quantites of gold in order to upgrade your restraunt and its equipment, as well as hire the right assistant cook to get the job done. You can also spend coin to buy new recipes for your menu, spices for your rack, and level up your knife skills for the ultimate chef blood sport! Okay, that last bit was a fib but once you’ve improved your business enough to achieve a five star rating, you can move on to a bigger and better place. This is a game made for people that love to grind your way to success, but it has a much faster pace than other games in this vein.
Here is the spice vendor. This couldn't be considered racist, right?
Order Up! looks much better than one would expect from a downloadable handheld game. This is an eShop games that was crafted especially with the 3DS in mind, and the 3D effect looks great. For the most part, I was able to play with the slider turned all the way up without any loss of framerate or the doubling of images that happens with older 3DS games on the maximum setting. Character designs are very cute and display a whimiscal and cartoony style. A lot of care was taken to give characters at least a dash of personality. Unfortunately, not many unique character models were used so when looking at the filled tables of your restaurant it’s a bit like you have been cooking for an island full of clones.
The sound is good, though the music is a bit banal. The voice acting and dialogue is where this title’s strength lies. You are sure to get at least a couple of light chuckles from the lines exchanged between the various characters that occupy your tables.
Keeping the health inspector happy will be one of your many tasks.
When reading the premise for Order Up! and seeing the $9.99 price tag, it would be easy to dismiss it. There are similar games available on mobile platforms for a fraction of the price, but they are no where near this quality. Order Up! successfully combines a cooking and restaurant management sim game into a fun game with a surprising amount of depth. Is it fun enough to make you pack a suitcase and parachute into a bizarre clone-filled island in the middle of nowhere? Probably not, but perhaps it will inspire you to try new things in the kitchen, like maple syrup on your macaroni and cheese.
[review title=”Order Up!” pros=”Nice visuals and good voice acting complete the package on this well done game.” cons=”Price tag is a little hefty, it would have been nice to see a little more diversity in character models.” verdict=”Order Up! Will definitely please a younger gamer, or anyone who likes the grind of the “Ville” games.” score=70]