Order Up! places you in the apron of a generic male, or female chef who longs to rise up amongst the ranks and take their place as the top Chef in town.
While a little slow to get going, once you get in the swing of things, you will be hard pressed not to enjoy all that Order Up! offers.
Gameplay and Controls
You start out in a cargo plane flying high in the clouds, as you choose either the male or female chef. Once you choose your chef, you are dropped from the plane over Port Abello (get it?), only to land safely in a dumpster outside of a fast food joint. Conveniently, the joint, Burger Face is hiring a new chef. This will serve to be your tutorial sequence as you learn how to open a ticket, grill a burger, fry the fries, slice tomatoes, fill drinks and more. After you’ve completed a handful of tickets, the day will end with a comical look at receiving your first ever paycheck. Fed up with working for the ‘man’, you storm off down the street only to come across a run-down diner. You take it upon yourself to purchase the run-down diner, the Gravy Chug and make a go at being the boss. This is where the game really starts.
You have several goals that you must attend to, such as making a certain amount of profit, expanding your menu, cleaning up your restaurant, impressing the food critic, keeping the health inspector happy, and most importantly serving your customers quality food, quickly. The fun doesn’t end at the Gravy Chug though, as you have 4 more restaurants to purchase and maintain.
The game is broken down into a map of Port Abello, which is accessible via the touchscreen. Players start off in the Market District which allows access to Burger Face, Gravy Chug, and the Farmers Market. You will be visiting the Farmers Market often throughout the game to purchase spices, chef specials and participate in two mini games which earn you coins each time.
Alright, back to the Gravy Chug. You always start the day in front of your restaurant with the bottom screen displaying your options. Every day, Nugget the newsboy will ride by on his bike to deliver your paper. If you so desire, you can tap on the Nugget icon on the bottom screen, causing him to crash and spill his papers. This triggers a minigame in which vehicles drive by causing the papers to fly through the air. You must tap to collect as many papers as possible. This goes on for 60 seconds, after which Nugget will reward you with coin based on your performance. Once this optional minigame is over, it’s back to standing in front of your restaurant.
The options available on the bottom screen are as follows:
News – Here you can hire assistants, sharpen your knives, or have your kitchen cleaned or upgraded. Each assistant has different abilities, so hire them according to your needs.
Map – Takes you back to the map of Port Abello.
Menu – Here is where you purchase more dishes to serve.
Phone – You can call the Chef Tip Line, Delivery Guy, or the Food Critic. The Delivery Guy pulls up outside your restaurant and has a truck with a slot machine design. You can pay 1 coin to spin the wheels. If you get 3 in a row, you win a special ingredient for the day.
Let’s Cook! – This will take you inside your restaurant so you can start taking orders and serving customers.
The first 4 options are pretty self-explanatory so I won’t go into any more detail with them. The majority of your time is spent in the kitchen, so let’s focus on that.
Your restaurants are set up with 6 tables, displayed on the bottom screen and you have one waiter/waitress who takes the orders. As customers come in and are seated, the tables will light up. Tapping on the lighted table will send the waitress over and a short in-game scene takes place as she takes their orders. This can be skipped if you tap on the screen. The waitress will then bring the tickets to you at the window. Tickets will appear in the top left corner of the screen. To access the tickets, just tap on them once. The tickets will open up and you simply just drag and drop the ingredients to the correct workstation and start cooking.
Every table will have one customer with specific spice requests. The spices are always the same for the individual customer, but if you ever forget what spice they like, you can pay a certain amount of coin to have it revealed to you. Eventually, you should have the spices and customers memorized. On occasion, some ingredients on tickets will indicate that they need spice. Once you begin to cook or prepare said ingredient, you can tap the Spice button to open you spice rack. Take a look on the top screen and you see exactly which spice the ingredient needs.
Everything you do in the kitchen is going to be graded on a scale. Focusing on one ingredient at a time makes it a cinch to score perfect on every ingredient thus ensuring the highest tip possible. However, you won’t be focusing on just one ingredient, so be prepared to manage your time.
For each ingredient you prepare, a temperature, timer, or precision gauge will appear. The gauge is color coded and shows you exactly how to prepare your food to perfection. So for instance if you are shredding cheese, grating ginger or mashing potatoes a timer will appear. These ingredients are all about how quickly you can prepare them. Slicing a tomato or carrot is all about how precise you can slice said ingredient. This is indicated by the outline of a slice which shrinks and grows. Whether or not you receive a Perfect, OK, Fair, or Poor all depends on how thick each slice is. Time it just right and you can score perfect every time. Cooking steaks, eggs, pancakes etc will need you to cook each side to perfection. You use the bottom screen to flip the ingredients. Once you are done with an ingredient, you must tap the ‘done’ button and then drag the ingredient to either the plate or the trash. Be careful though, as the more ingredients you trash the more chances you have of a rat infestation.
To give you a general idea of a lot of the actions you will be performing in game, I’ve compiled a brief list. During your time in the kitchen you will be in charge of the following;
There are so many individual elements to running the kitchen. On top of that, you have to contend with some obvious obstacles. You must contend with impatient customers, food getting cold, rats in the kitchen, dirty dishes, fires, dull knives, assistants who fall asleep on the job and more.
At random times gameplay will be interrupted by small minigames in which you must sharpen your knives, clean dishes, clear out rats, put out fires, shake your assistants to wake them and more. These provide fun little distractions to break up the repetition in the kitchen.
Don’t be disheartened though, the game isn’t terribly difficult, as long as you manage your time wisely. This is the key to the whole game. Well that and using the touch screen to perform required actions precisely.
The controls are spot-on for the most part, although I had moments where the controls seemed to get away from me. I truly believe this was due to operator error and not anything to do with the game itself. Case in point, there were times when I was dragging an ingredient to one of my assistants and the wrong assistant started working on it. As I mentioned before, certain assistants have specific kitchen abilities, so you want to utilize them as much as possible. This didn’t help my cause. I also noticed when stirring or grating, that the screen would zoom out as though I was done performing the required action. I believe this was due to me getting too close to the top of the touch screen or possibly lifting up my stylus.
Almost every single action is performed on the touch screen and you hardly ever use a face button or directional input. You will need to drag and drop ingredients to the appropriate places, and perform actions as indicated by arrows on screen.
I’ve taken all this time and all these words to go on and on about the gameplay and controls, so I want to make sure I drive this point home. Order Up!! is not some Cooking Mama knockoff and I’m sure most of you already know this by now. It is a unique time management game based around cooking and it is FUN and full of content!
Visuals and Sound
The art style of the game is simple and cartoony, and I like it. Seriously, the whole game just has this jovial, carefree air about it. The customers themselves are some of the goofiest characters I’ve seen in awhile. During the course of the game, you will run into a Clint Eastwood (Man with No Name) customer who likes his ingredients burnt, as well as a Count Dracula customer who likes all his ingredients nearly raw. There are a few other customers, all with a unique look and voice to match. All of whom, you will see show up time and time again. Even the assistants have a look and voice that complement each other. The character animations are goofy, but smooth.
Every action in the kitchen is animated quite well and each restaurant has a unique theme which is executed just as well. Not only does each restaurant showcase its theme in the aesthetics, but also in the menu items.
My only gripe with the audio is that it is too low. I didn’t need headphones, but I’m sure the auditory experience would have been enhanced by them.
Regardless, I was impressed with the visuals and sound alike and I hope you all are as well.
Concluding Overall Impressions
I cannot stress enough to you how the demo does NOT do the full game justice. Order Up!! is a game full to bursting with content, high replay value, humor, and above all, fun! At $10, Order Up! is absolutely worth every penny and if you are looking for several solid hours of good gaming fun, then order yourself some Order Up!!
Final Score: 5 out of 5