Order Up! Review (eShop)
The field of food service has a number of different types of games that are available for people who aspire to become chefs, run restaurants or just like to eat. Diner Dash took the PC world by storm and has spawned a number of sequels and spin-off franchises. Cooking Mama brought a company like Majesco from the brink of extinction. You can step into the shoes of short order cooks, master chefs, popular TV cooking shows, restaurant management or even just engage in the act of eating. All of these have their own video game. Order Up! began life as a retail game for the Wii from developer Supervillain Studios and is now making the move to the digital world courtesy of the eShop on the Nintendo 3DS.
What You Need to Know
In Order Up! you take on the role of either a male or female chef who is dropped out of an airplane onto Port Abello Island. You quickly find work in a fast food restaurant but after your first day (the tutorial) you owe your employer money and storm off. You quickly purchase your own restaurant, which is falling apart and it’s your job to restore it, along with four other restaurants to their former glory and become the greatest chef on the island and in the world. You’ll do this by preparing meals for the myriad of customers who walk through your restaurant’s doors. You’ll work a deep fryer, chop and slice fruits and vegetables, saute spices and boil pasta. All of it done through the 3DS touch screen.
If you’ve ever played the popular time management game Diner Dash there was a fellow in the back of your restaurant that would cook up a storm every time you brought him an order. I always thought it would be interesting to play as him and that’s basically what you do in Order Up! When the orders are brought to you it’s your job to cook the food and make sure it’s prepared correctly and served to the customers in a timely manner.
To do that you’ll use the touch screen to dice vegetables, drop food into a deep fryer, slice meat, grate cheese, flip burgers or cook pancakes. All of this is done with easy to understand motions. Flipping burgers is as simple as making a flipping motion with the stylus. Dicing vegetables simply requires quickly tapping on the screen. Dropping french fries into a grease pit is just pushing down or pulling up on the stylus. The motions work, and with only a couple of exceptions are very easy to pull off. Once you get them down you’ll find yourself dropping something into the grease, tossing something onto the grill and chopping up a tomato all at the same time without even thinking about it. It just works and that’s what a game should be like.
Every Restaurant Plays Very Differently
It could have been very easy to have all of the restaurants play identically with the only differences being aesthetic. That’s simply not the case. Each of the restaurants actually plays very differently from each other. You’ll start by using the deep fryer a lot while cooking hamburgers in an American restaurant. That will be followed by a Mexican restaurant where there is a lot of vegetable chopping and sauteing of meat to make tacos and burritos. That will be followed by an Italian restaurant where you’ll find most of the work being done with the stove and boiling pasta. You’ll have to master different skills and learn different timing at every restaurant to be successful and that keeps the game fresh from beginning to end.
While you’re going about the daily business of running different restaurants and winning cooking competitions you’ll find the action broken up by a number of different mini-game like experiences. Each day when the paper boy arrives you have the ability to earn quick coins by helping him pick up loose newspapers that he’s dropped. You can play a mini slot machine to earn different special ingredients that will make the day’s food worth more money. Every once in a while the Health Inspector will show up to judge your restaurant and you’ll have to make sure all the dishes are spotless. Toss too many ingredients into the trash and your restaurant will become infested with rats that you need to scare away before the customers see them.
These mini-games break up the already solid game play and allow you some time to just relax a bit from the hectic portions of serving dozens of customers every day. It’s nice to take a little bit of a break every so often and the mini-games seem to be spaced out at nearly perfect intervals. Some of them will be required to progress, others are simply there to earn you a little more cash.
The biggest negative I would have for the game is that the characters simply give me the creeps. They’re all ugly. They look like animated versions of claymation characters. They have solid wide eyed stares that never seem to blink. Their features seem just deformed enough that you don’t look at them like a Picasso painting, but it’s hard to find any real beauty in them. They’re just plain creepy at times. The voice acting is good, if a little repetitive.
There are a dozen or so different characters and none of them are appealing in any sense.
Occasional Navigation Hiccups
To move around to the different stations you have to use the left and right buttons on the d-pad, push left or right on the analog stick or the face buttons. Generally these get you around the kitchen very quickly and make it fairly easy to navigate. However, if you end up finishing one of the plates you’re zoomed out from the different cooking stations. It’s not really explained well just how to get back to work and I found myself having to re-prepare a lot of ingredients because I simply couldn’t navigate the kitchen so well. When you’ve got things running like clock-work it’s almost beautiful to behold. Cooking synced perfectly to serve a warm meal is a wonderful thing. It’s a shame that it is sometimes marred by slightly inconsistent controls. Never enough to cause major failures mind you but enough to be recognized as a bit of an issue.
If you remember my preview of the game I was interested in the game based on the preview which simply showed some of the basic cooking mechanics. The full downloadable game is so much more than just that demo and really makes you feel like a master chef at times. When the kitchen is running like clockwork and you delegate smaller tasks to your assistants it’s quite a wonderful game. Those moments far outshine any of the small hiccups the game has and I found myself really enjoying this game more than I thought I would initially. If you like time management games this is one to pick up. It could end up being almost a sleeper gem for the eShop.
Review copy of the game provided by Supervillain Studios
Played through the entire campaign
Total Play Time: 8 hours