Game Review by Debbie Winkler
Series: Gourmania #1
Creator: Butterfly iSoft
# of Players: 1
Target Age Group: 8 and up
Average Game Play: 2 – 10 hours
Type of Game: Hidden Object
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Do you have what it takes to become a top chef in the culinary world? Work your way through seven restaurants to earn your place in the cooking showdown. Serve everything from sandwiches to sushi, ice cream to cocktails and more! Find the ingredients to fulfill the orders, drag them to the appropriate cooking appliance and earn the money you need to expand. The faster you serve your customers, the more money you can earn so get moving!
This is a fun little hidden object game that I recently stumbled across. Many people will tell you that it is a time management game, but it is all about finding ingredients. There are seven different restaurants that you will work in with a wide variety of ingredients and recipes. You begin in a sandwich restaurant, where it is pretty easy to identify and locate the items that you need. The pizza restaurant was also pretty easy, but the sushi restaurant and some of the cocktail bars have some specialized ingredients that you will have to become familiar with to win. You have a set amount of time to earn the money you need to pass the goal level or to push yourself and win the expert level. Wait for customers to come in and place an order. Instead of requesting a “ham and cheese sandwich” they will ask for “ham, cheese and bread.” You need to find these three items to fulfill their order. The icon of a cutting board and knife will then pop up on that customer’s order. Drag the ingredient icon to the cutting board at the top of the screen and the game will automatically cut up the ingredients for you. As you progress to more complex recipes, you will need to find more ingredients and use more of the kitchen appliances at the top of the screen. When you are finished making the food, the customer will drop money on the counter and all you need to do is click on it to pick it up. Use the money that you earn to purchase kitchen upgrades in the shop and to purchase more restaurants to build your culinary empire!
Each restaurant will have you play three levels, a bonus level, three more levels and a final bonus level. The first couple of restaurants will keep the same layout inside. Ingredients will consistently appear in the same place for all levels. Later restaurants will change the perspective and location of ingredients after you play the first bonus level. This means that you will need to find all of the ingredients again. There are multiple icons for all ingredients, but no more than five or so per item. Fortunately, the ingredients will recharge and pop back up over time if you wait for it. This happens pretty quickly on the easy levels, but takes quite some time on the later levels. This makes the later levels more challenging, but not impossible as the ingredients typically only have 2 looks (whole piece of fruit versus cut piece of fruit) or will have been rotated (bottle lying on its side versus standing up). The bonus levels are a fun item matching mini-game that help you unlock new recipes and earn some bonus money. You will have a row of ingredients on the bottom of the screen that you need to match to their outline on the conveyors at the top of the screen. There are five conveyors moving in opposite directions (1, 3 and 5 going to the left and 2, 4 going to the right) that will show the blank outline of the ingredient that you need to match to it. Click on the ingredient on the bottom and drag it to the appropriate outline. Once all of the items on the conveyor are matched, the row will disappear and a new recipe will be unlocked. The bonus levels are not timed, but the faster you make matches, the more bonus money you can earn.
I found the first several restaurants to be easy to play and doubled or tripled the amount of money I need to earn to achieve expert level without trying to hard. This all changed when I hit the sushi restaurant, where I really struggled. I barely hit the basic goal, let alone the expert goal! However, after playing them several times each, I was able to achieve the expert level. The key to winning on the more challenging levels is to take advantage of the bonuses you can get for chaining tasks. Each bonus is only worth $5 – $20, which may not seem like a lot, but they can really add up! If you find all of the items on one person’s order in a row, you will get a $10 bonus. You can earn this bonus each time a customer has multiple items on their order. For example, find the lettuce, tomato, and cucumber for customer #1 and you earn $10. Find the shrimp, green onions and red caviar for customer #2 and you earn $10. Then go back and find the white asparagus, onions and mushrooms for customer #1 and you earn another $10. You can earn more chaining bonuses by running multiple kitchen appliances at the same time. Find the first wave of ingredients for all three or four customers and then pull the ingredients up to the kitchen appliances at the same time. You can earn an additional $10 for running three appliances or $20 for running four appliances. The downside of earning these bonuses is that it takes some time for the appliances to do their work. There is a status bar that runs around the outside of all of the appliances that will slowly or quickly fill with red as the task is completed. Purchase upgrades in the store to increase speed or to purchase additional machines. You will need all of the speed and machines you can get to achieve the expert goal. The only other chaining bonuses you can get are for picking up money after you have completed an order. Click on the first customer’s money and you get $0 in bonuses, click on customer #2’s money right afterwards and you get $5 in bonuses, $10 for customer #3, and $15 for customer #4. This is the most difficult bonus to get as you have to balance a really delicate need between getting the chaining bonuses and clicking on the money right away to clear space for a new customer to come in. There is a lag time of several seconds between completing a recipe by clicking on a customer’s money and a new customer arriving so you really have to hustle if you want a second or third wave of customers to come in your store before time runs out.
The main challenge of this game lies in identifying the ingredients you need to find. Some of the food items I was not very familiar with so I had to use a hint button or search around the screen with my mouse (if you hover over an ingredient for a few seconds, the name will pop up) to find them. It can be really frustrating as some ingredients have very little visual differentiation. For example, in the ice cream restaurant, you have to know the difference between vanilla ice cream and sweet cream ice cream. The vanilla ice cream is a creamy ivory color and the sweet cream ice cream is an icy white color. If you struggle to see the difference between slight gradations of color, then do not play this game as you will get frustrated very quickly. Another fun one was a pickle and a cucumber. Other items are shown cut open or whole, which can also be a bit confusing. All of the fruit items you need to find including papaya, starfruit, lemons, limes, guava, melons, etc. will have a whole version and a cut open version. You will have to experiment with which fruit items are what to find all of them. Fortunately, there is no penalty for clicking on incorrect items or I never ran into one. I am not saying that you should click around randomly on the screen, but it is worth your while to try clicking on objects you are not sure of to see if they are some of your more exotic ingredients.
The graphics are not spectacular in this game and the storyline is practically nonexistent, but the game is still fun nonetheless. I liked that the game was a bit different than most hidden object games out there and appreciated the extra touches the creators put in there to challenge my skills. Some of the ingredients are hidden pretty well, but most of them are right in front of your face once you find them. There is a hint button that recharges quickly that you can use to find that last missing ingredient. Click on the hint button, then click on the ingredient you want to find and it will show you where the nearest ingredient is. You can use the menu button to restart a level any time during play, change the music/sound settings, or exit out. So the game itself is pretty simple and can get repetitive (I had to take a break after a while as all of the ingredients started blurring together), but it is fun to play a few levels or a couple of restaurants at a time. If you are looking for a light-hearted, slightly different hidden object game, give this one a test run. There are hints of time management game qualities in here and so you will find that it challenges your finding skills in a new and unusual way.
This game is appropriate for viewers of all ages. All of the ingredients you need to find are written down in English at the top of the screen. The tutorial and brief story line are also written in English. Two of the restaurants are bars so you will be serving a lot of alcoholic drinks. Recommended for ages 8 and up.