Macaroni and cheese…with brown sugar?!?
From a small rundown diner to a prestigious cooking competition, Order Up! takes you through the ups and down of restaurant management. It follows the story of an amateur chef aspiring to run a successful restaurant. Like all great chefs, you begin your training in a fast food restaurant, complete with acne-ridden teenage manager. Your manager will introduce you to the basics of the game, which at its core resembles a combination of Cooking Mama and Diner Dash.
The basic concept is to service customers as they arrive at the restaurant. This involves taking orders as well as meal preparation. With each completed meal, you'll earn money through the tips left by your customers; the quicker and better the food, the greater the tip. With the money earned, you are able to unlock spices and new dishes to expand your menu, hire help, and improve your equipment. Investing money into your restaurant is a crucial step towards obtaining a five star restaurant rating. Upon reaching the five star goal, players will be able to travel to new areas and purchase new restaurants, thus repeating the cycle.
At first, gameplay is solely focused on the cooking aspects of the game. Through the use of simple motion controls the player is able to mimic basic cooking techniques. To slice, make a chopping motion with your Wii Remote; to turn burgers and pancakes, make a flipping motion. Responsive and intuitive controls allow for a smooth cooking experience. Surprisingly enough, what should be the simplest part - ringing the on-screen bell to signal the meal is complete - is the hardest thing to do, requiring you to keep the pointer perfectly still while pressing the B button.
Random mini-games are put to good use in breaking up the constant serving and cooking gameplay. They range anywhere from a surprise health inspection to clearing the kitchen of a rat infestation. Though only a silly mini-game, flicking the rats out of the kitchen proves to be quite entertaining.
As Order Up! progresses, strategy becomes a more crucial ingredient in the recipe for success. Players are eventually expected to complete multiple meals at a time for a single table. Keeping in mind that all meals must be sent out hot for maximum tip value, it is important to carefully budget time so that each meal is completed in the same general time frame. Hiring assistants skilled in particular techniques is a great way to save time and complete several tasks at once.
In addition to multi-tasking, players will need to add spices to certain patron's meals in order to maximize profit. Spices are purchased at a Farmer’s Market, and a wide variety should always be kept on hand. This combination of various strategic elements elevates this game from a mindless point–and-click excercise to a more engaging and fulfilling experience.
Your time spent at the restaurant comes complete with witty voice acting from staff and patrons alike as well as authentic kitchen sound effects. However, the background music is too simple and leaves the player wishing for more. Graphically, the cartoonish style matches the humor and lighthearted character of the game. The stylized characters are all well designed, enhancing their unique personalities.
As a whole, Order Up! provides a wonderful blend of both managing and cooking. The charming nature of the game makes it a great choice for people of all ages, and the more complicated strategy elements provide for a more engaging experience than Diner Dash and Cooking Mama can provide on their own.