Overall Score 96%
Snowy: Lunch Rush
15 months ago we reviewed a game at Bytten called Betty's Beer Bar, a game based heavily on the retro classic Tapper. The review finished with a comment saying that extra gameplay elements would have taken that game above the 60% score that it garnered. Enter Snowy Lunch Rush, the game that does exactly that!
Lunch Rush is a Tapper-inspired serve-em-up (can I coin that as a phrase?). In it, you play Snowy, a restaurant owner trying to make his the best business in town. Snowy is helped by his bear friend Browny and together they must seat customers, take orders, deliver food, serve desserts and coffee, collect money, clear dishes, take phonecalls, and if the queues are long, sing to the crowds!
Controlling Snowy is easy, using the mouse and left-mouse button to move him around to the tables, till, dishwasher, food counter, cake stand, phone, stage and drive-thru. As wll as moving Snowy around, you also have to pick up the customers and drag them to empty tables.
The game objective is to deal with all restaurant activities and make money. You start easy with a run-down building with just a few tables. Customers stand in line, you move them to a table, take their order, wait for Browny to do the cooking, deliver it and wait for the bill to be paid before clearing dishes for the next customers.
Where Snowy begins to excel is with the game progression. Rather than simply make the game play faster and faster, progression is handled by a series of new features and challenges. The most obvious change is with the type of customer; rather than everyone being the same, you'll find VIPs who are very demanding, young boys and girls who are very impatient but fast eaters and men who become angry if made to wait. These new characters are introduced one at a time as you move through early levels, giving you something new to deal with as you build your empire.
As well as new characters, you'll be challenged by different sized groups of people who queue for a table of 1 to 6 people, forcing you to watch your seating plan carefully. You'll also open a drive-thru and start receiving VIPs, adding further to an already difficult scenario. And then we have the cakes, coffee and the stage! Stage?? Oh yes, Snowy is very talented. Eventually you'll build a stage which allows Snowy to sing to the queue of customers waiting to be seated. Later levels will demand you take to the stage regularly to restore the tempers of customers. Failure to keep them happy will have them walking out and you'll lose revenue.
There are more strategic elements involved too. Each customer has a small anger bar that represents how happy they are. Keep them waiting for anything and the bar turns from green to red and you might lose their custom. The customer can be saved by singing if they are queuing, serving coffee if sitting and just by getting things done quickly.
And the strategy just keeps coming... you also have the opportunity to earn repetition bonuses by doing the same task multiple times (take several orders at once for example), and you can earn more money by seating customers in chairs that match the customer colours (a purple girl would love to sit on a purple chair). Have I missed anything? Did I mention that Snowy also uses both of his arms for multi-tasking? Or that the game has an 'endless' mode that allows you upgrade both Snowy and his restaurant?
If you haven't worked it out by now, I'm very impressed with Snowy Lunch Rush. Developers Aliasworlds Entertainment have managed to take an old concept and add enough features to make the game an essential purchase. The game has so much packed in that I haven't even mentioned the graphics (which are excellent), the sound (music, effects and Snowy's singing are all excellent) and the presentation (yes, the menus, cut-scenes etc. etc. are all excellent).
It is looking very likely to me that Lunch Rush is going to hold on as my favourite game this year - if you don't buy it, you are missing out on an indie classic. Actually, I'd like to see this very game on the Nintendo DS, tap and click gameplay would make the game just that little bit more special!
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