The restaurant business is one of the toughest industries in America; it’s said that 50% of restaurants fail in the first year. It’s customers are hard to satisfy, critics are harsh, and good help is hard to come by. Thankfully, Order Up! is nothing like this. The quirky and fun restaurant sim is more like Diner Dash and Cooking Mama than an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. Order Up! is one of the best pick up and play titles I’ve experienced on a handheld in quite some time.
You begin by choosing your character’s gender. You are then placed on Port Abello Islands with the goal of creating the best meals at the top restaurant.You’ll work your way up from fast food order cook to top chef at prestigious restaurants, all while cooking your share of burgers, french fries, and fried chicken along the way using the 3DS’s touchscreen.
Tapping the touch screen to quick chop works well, so you’ll never experience hiccups or moments of lag. The bottom screen, on the other hand, is dull. You’re presented with a blank screen featuring a prompt that tells you to stir, chop, lower, flip, and other activities. That said, it would have been great to interact with the food on the bottom screen instead of just watching the prompt.
Cooking, the heart of the game, is a lively activity. For example, stirring pasta to keep it from burning, while quickly changing stations to lower fries in a fryer, or chop tomatoes for a burger is hectic. But fun hectic! I constantly found myself concentrating to make sure dishes were perfect. The key to cooking is multitasking appropriately, such as grating the cheese while the elbows for the mac and cheese cook. You’re awarded a larger tip when customers receive their food warm and fast.
Tips are used in the game’s hub to hire more help (which allows faster cooking times), upgrade your kitchen to include more burners or fryers (which lets you co0k more food at once), and travel to the farmers’ market to buy secret black market recipes, or shop for spices (used to please each customer’s taste buds and acquire a larger tip). Both the black market and spice shop open up an entirely different dynamic adding a bit of variety to dulling recipes.
Changing cooking stations is a bit counter-intuitive as it requires you to stop what you were doing, which would be fine if it the process were responsive. Stations are usually positioned side by side, so you have to move left or right. I found myself tapping the next station and having nothing occur. This led to burnt food and dissatisfied customers. Other times I would change stations and completely over shoot the station I intended to stop at. It’s a small complaint, but worth noting.
I’m not a fan of Order Up!‘s bop bag shaped characters, or the useless 3D effect that didn’t add anything to the game. On the other hand, the dishes look authentic to their real life counter parts. The music is cheesy, but the writing is top-notch. I frequently chuckled at various request and compliments from patrons.
The main issue with Order Up! is its difficulty (or lack thereof); it’s far too easy. Some gamers might find it acceptable, but most will breeze through this lunch and dinner service. The game allows you to make far too many mistakes, and barely rewards perfect dishes.
Order Up! shines with its pick up and play approach. You can play for extended amount of times, but quick sessions during commutes or while waiting at appointments are extremely appropriate. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, but the game is solid and a great time waster. Pick it up from the 3DS e-shop for $9.99, but I suggest you try the demo before making a purchase.