The Wii has become the de facto system for cooking games these days, and you can’t walk past an electronics aisle and not see at least a handful of titles. From Hell’s Kitchen to Cooking Mama, it seems that Wii developers find an idea and truly run with it. Order Up! aims to be something different, as well as a simple and accessible game; and it certainly pulls through in the end. So what exactly does this Cooking Mama wannabe bring to the table?
Order Up! features cooking gameplay that in itself has a meta-game, where you need to manage all the different parts of your orders at once. For example, to create a hamburger, you need to throw the meat on the grill, tear lettuce pieces, chop tomato slices, and put the fries in the fryer all at the same time. Depending on how well something is cooked, you’ll get a grade, though the only one that matters in the end is the one for the meal in its entirety. The grade determines how much a patron tips you in the end, as well as their satisfaction with the restaurant overall and how often they will come back.
An interesting feature is the ability to also manage employees. These NPCs do different tasks as you cook, giving you a leg up when it comes to more complex orders. Basically, you can assign a single task per employee at any given time while you do your own, letting you clear through a meal much quicker. There’s even a mini-game where you need to keep them alert, as they sometimes fall asleep and need a good shaking.
The use of the Wiimote is pretty good, with no real control issues whatsoever. For a game that uses just this controller, it seems like the developers of Order Up! took the time to actually test everything, something I wish more Wii developers would do with motion-sensing controls. It’s still a cooking game, so be prepared for slicing and dicing the air to cut that tomato up, or flicking your wrist to flip a burger.
Instead of just cooking, Order Up! does feature a slew of other gameplay options, including restaurant management and shopping. While the main focus is obviously going to be on cooking and plating orders, running your restaurant and getting different ingredients for special dishes is also part of the game.
Perhaps one of the better points of Order Up! is its distinct style. The environments and characters stand out as something original and cartoony, and there’s an air of sillyness as you play. The game even includes a paper cook’s hat, though if you’re over the age of 12 it probably won’t fit you.
Even though there are a lot of games like it, Order Up! really surprised me in the end as being very competent and fun. Certainly, games like it are a dime a dozen, but its charm comes from the way the developers approached things in a more original manner, instead of just making a bunch of cooking-themed mini-games. The timing meta-game, as well as the restaurant management makes it a worthy title for the genre, and worth a look if you’re sick of Mama’s cooking.