Monday, September 15, 2008

Order Up! (Wii) review

Wow, it's been a while since I've done a review. Hopefully I can do them more often, as I have quite a back catalog of games in need of reviews.

Developer: SuperVillain Studios
Publisher: Zoo Games
Date Released: July 22, 2008 (USA)
Players: 1
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating: E (Everyone)

There've been many casual games on the Wii and DS. But one particular series that been praised as unique and casual is Cooking Mama. In it you preform different motions and touch screen controls to mimic the cooking and preparing of different dishes. Super Villain Studios' Order Up! is a like Cooking Mama and then some. The Cooking Mama games never were reviewed the best, so will Order Up! follow this trend? Let's hope not.

There are several gameplay aspects that make this game different (and potentially better) than Cooking Mama. The first being that the entire game isn't random minigames in which you make a dish of food. You actually have to manage your restaurant.

Outside your restaurant

The gameplay is broken up into days for each restaurant. You start off each day outside your restaurant. There you can check a number of things. Those being: hire new employees, upgrade things in your kitchen (oven speed, knife sharpness, etc.), and make various calls to a food critic, the delivery guy, and a chef tip hot line. Once you've taken care of that kind of business, it's time to start up your day and enter your restaurant!

In a single day you'll wait on around four to five tables. In the beginning of the game, you have to prepare single and double orders, but towards the end of it, you'll be preparing food for tables of three and even four people. As the day gets going, you'll send your waiter (or waitress, depending on the restaurant) to each table to take orders. Then, you'll receive the orders back in your kitchen and it's your job to prepare each meal as good and fast as you can.

Each type of technique in the kitchen has it's own motion control, and it actually works. For example turn the remote all the way over will flip your burger, moving the remote rapidly, up and down like a knife will dice vegetables, and tracing a circular pattern will stir up a stew or soup. You'll get four different ratings for each thing you do: Perfect, Good, OK, and Bad, thus determining how big of tips you get. Some orders will require you to do the motion as quick as possible to earn the Perfect or Good rating. Other will have you stir or flip it every now and then to make sure it won't burn or catch fire.

A look at the kitchen gameplay

After you serve certain customers long enough, you'll begin to recognize certain things they want changed in their dish. There's a kid named Sweet Tooth who wants you to add sugar to his order and a cowboy who wants you to burn his meat to a charcoal every time. You'll get a bigger tip this way and earn a lot more money in the long run. Other than the in restaurant stuff, you can also visit a farmer's market to stock up on tip guaranteeing spices and chef's specials in the Farmers Market.

The story in the game is nice and serves it's purpose. You get dumped off a plane into the island of Port Abello and start out working in a lowly burger joint and raise to top of culinary expertise by purchasing and working at American, Mexican, Italian, and (finally) French restaurants. With each new restaurant comes new recipes and increased tips per table.

Each restaurant will have you complete five tasks to earn a five star rating (cleaning your restaurant, getting a good review from the food critic, etc.) While the new recipes do offer some variety, you can't help but feel a bit bored as you do the same five things over and over for each restaurant. With that said, you'll definitely feel a lot of repetition as the game goes by. Even so, if you do get the game, take my advice: play through the entire story. While it may get repetitive, the ending sequence, a spoof on Iron Chef, is worth it.

One major disappointment of mine was the lack of multiplayer. It would have been the perfect fit, seeing as it's been done before in Cooking Mama and the such. A disappointment it is, but at least the single-player can still make up for it.

Order Up!'s visuals are cartoony and pleasant to look upon

Visually, it's nothing extraordinary, but the cartoony look fits the gameplay and is nice to look at at least. Along with that, the music is generic (Mexican for the Mexican restaurant, etc.). But there is actually some impressive amount of voice acting for each patron, assistant chef, and waiter/waitress.

The game isn't the longest of games, but it'll last you a decent time. I clocked around nine to ten hours through the story. So it does have some depth.

Overall Thoughts

The motion controls actually work, and aren't waggle the hell out of your controller. The characters and setting are charming enough to keep you playing. Overall, it's a very nicely made casual game, that I'd recommend a buy to most people; plus with a $40 price tag, it's cheaper than a regular priced title.


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