With all the blockbuster sequels dropping this year, lots of them with some seriously heavy subject matter, many gamers are looking for a changeup. For all the enjoyment that franchises like Call Of Duty and Mass Effect bring, sometimes you just want to have some truly lighthearted fun while still being challenged. I won’t say that there aren’t some fun and challenging games out there, but there really aren’t that many related to food. When I got the chance to review Order Up!! I was really excited. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a huge foodie and this game was right up my alley. On the surface, Order Up!! could be perceived as a kiddie game but I assure you there is more than meets the eye on this one.
In Order Up!! you are an aspiring chef who will have to work your way up from a basic burger joint to be the owner of your own restaurant empire. You will have to learn to cook a multitude of different cuisine as well as learn to manage assistants in order to survive in the high paced world of fine dining.
The heart of Order Up!! is mastering the skills needed to manage the frantic life of a top-notch chef and restaurateur. Players will manage the entire restaurant experience, from taking orders to cooking the entrees and hiring the staff. While I will admit that I am a bit of a sucker for point and click games like this, the game has an excellent balance between being intuitive to play and challenging all at the same time. The game is pretty simple, customers come into your restaurant, you get the orders and try to prepare them with as much precision and speed as you can. While you will cook multiple types of cuisine, preparation of a dish is normally comprised of 3-5 elements that are each performed through a series of mini-games. At first you must perform all these activities by yourself but once you earn enough money you will be able to hire up to 2 additional sous chefs to help out with the workload and trust me you will need it.
In addition to hiring help, you need make sure you whip your restaurant into acceptable shape by paying to get it fixed since most of the spots you buy are dumps when you first get them. You will also need to make sure you visit the Farmer’s Market on a regular basis to make sure you have all the spices that your customers really enjoy (you get bonus tips for seasoning their food the way they like it). On days when you are really feeling in a good mood, you can roll the dice and make a call to Ned the delivery guy. When he arrives, you pull a slot machine for the chance to earn bonus ingredients that provide a monetary bonus when you make dishes that contain the ingredient that day. Since the dishes come up randomly, some days it really pays off and other days it doesn’t. In terms of the cooking itself, they do a great job a making use of both the Sixaxis controls in the normal PS3 controller as well as the unique capabilities of the PlayStation Move. Once you have completed all the major challenges in a particular restaurant, it is time to call in the food critic to see if you can impress him and truly make your restaurant a five-star success. Oh yeah, make sure stay on your toes and keep that restaurant clean because you never know when the health inspector might drop in.
To be honest with you, as a niche game, I really couldn’t find a lot not to like about Order Up!!. It is exactly the game that it projects itself to be. For the most part, all of the game’s mini-games are fun and accurate to the real life actions that need to be performed. There are a few mini-games that are ridiculously hard and difficult to perfect. Luckily for players there aren’t that many of them. It does make it difficult to turn out perfect dishes when there is just one activity you can’t get perfect since all parts of a dish have to be done with a “perfect” rating for the entire dish to be considered as such. Your sous chefs have specialties that they can perform perfectly or bonuses that they provide, but the majority of the time you are going to have to do all phases of a dish if you want it to be rated as perfect. Be prepared for a lot of dishes being rated as just “good” which will get you less money.
If you are a foodie and a PS3 owner I can’t recommend this game enough. To someone who was always addicted to games like Diner Dash, this is right up my alley. As I said before, it’s very authentic to the preparation of each dish and requires some skill, but it’s done in a really enjoyable manner. The game can get a bit repetitive from time to time; however, if you are a food lover like me then that’s not such a big deal. I’m not saying that this is a game for everyone because it isn’t, it’s definitely a niche title but if you love food and own a PS3 you can’t not own this game. Don’t let the kiddie style of the box art fool you, Order Up!! takes the cooking sim to another level with robust menus, kitchen upgrades, and a small world you can navigate to purchase supplies for your restaurant. To top it all off the game only cost $29.99 and you might be able to find it for less in your local Gamestop.
I always try to judge games on their own merit in terms of the premise of the game, what the developer promised and what they ultimately delivered. Besides the few annoyances with the mini-games that make it hard to get a “perfect” rating on some dishes and some slight repetitiveness this game delivers on everything it promises and I would love to see an Order Up!! 2. For delivering what I would categorize as the definitive cooking sim for consoles I give Order Up!! by SuperVillain Studios 8.5 of out 10. A must buy for any foodie!!