Aside from being a gamer, I also enjoy cooking, and it’s rare to find a game that combines the joys of both worlds. Yes, I’m aware of Cooking Mama but not having an acquired taste for sims, let alone not possessing a DS, tends to dwindle any motivations. No doubt, I’m part of the demographic that Order Up!! aims to serve.
Order Up!! puts you in the role of a chef who finds themselves on the illustrious island city of Port Abello. It’s here that you’ll make your mark on the culinary world, but before you can start seasoning fillet mignons or serving up some tempura, you’ll have to start from the bottom flipping burgers and making fries.
In order to advance up the chef ladder, every establishment you enter must be aided in making that five star rating. These include clean up, and keeping patrons pleased. Your goal is to serve up every dish at the best possible quality; a combination of preparing your ingredients and time management between slicing and dicing, frying, grilling, sautéing, stirring and attention to detail. While it may seem repetitive, the trick is to score a perfect in every step. This not only secures a rise in star ratings, but also determines how much your customers are willing to tip.
If this sounds like the same broken record, the jobs in the kitchen are not the only concern – customer service is just as important. As mentioned, time management plays a large role as the game advances in difficulty. Say you’re serving a table of four. It’s one thing if you finish making one dish, but while you’re hard at work on the other three, that one dish will turn cold as it sits on the counter. Therefore, it is essential that you learn how to multi-task and gauge the amount of time needed for preparing each ingredient. Can I leaf this head of lettuce in time to flip that steak before it burns? If I’m dicing these veggies in a matter of seconds, shouldn’t I also boil that pot of pasta while I’m at it? Like with chefs in real life, each order ticket is a puzzle where one has to devise a game plan on the spot for getting all dishes completed fast, simultaneously, and piping hot.
Though this may seem overwhelming, the game allows you to hire up to two assistants from the want-ads. Each aide specializes in different abilities such as perfect cutting, grilling, or influencing customers to order the most expensive dishes on the menu. Bear in mind, these assistants are not meant to be your slaves. Getting a handle on equal duty distribution will ensure a productive relationship.
Despite Order Up!!’s primary focus on making magic in the kitchen, the world of restaurant management involves far more than that. You’ll have to deal with (and please) the health inspectors, food critics, and managing your finances for equipment upgrades and restocking the spice racks. In facilitating excellent customer service, you will start to learn the preferred tastes of your regulars. Some want BBQ sauce on everything, and some are favorable towards spicy vittles. You would do well in submitting to every special request as you’ll not only obtain compliments but an extra tip as well. A combination of having the right spices and money helps to unlock new recipes at each restaurant, also helping you in the quest for that five star status.
Order Up!! can get manic at times but this is balanced out by the game’s slapstick humor and art. But even still, once you enter the kitchen, things automatically turn serious with a mostly believable take on food items and cook chemistry. One of the big bread winners is the game’s stylish take on each establishment from cacti chairs in Mexican establishments to the J-pop dreamland of Asian eateries, complete with ninja waiters.
Drawbacks to Order Up!! are few and far between, but what namely comes to mind are the load/save screens which tend to wear on the patience when you’re hooked into the game. There were also times when the controls decide to be uncooperative – delays in analog when cutting or using the Sixaxis but thankfully it’s barely enough to ruin the whole experience. I can only imagine that things may fare better with PlayStation Move.
Order Up!! serves up as the definitive cooking sim for the times, not just as a single player stress reliever, but one that’s great for the family or even with a significant other. With its multiplayer options and high replayability, you’ll be sure to find yourself keeping the people fed with a smile. Soup’s on!