|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Digital Embryo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Majesco Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: April 9, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
Entertainment based on food is nothing new. There are television shows, movies, and music based on culinary creations. Even Weird Al Yankovic, perhaps, owes his entire career to his early songs that were based mainly on food. Video games are now starting to get into the food preparation joy with several games that allow you to basically make food. Cake Mania is the most recent example of this emerging genre.
In Cake Mania, you play as Jill. She grew up around her grandparents who loved to bake and owned their own bakery. It was fairly successful and inspired Jill to attend culinary school so that she could work for her Grandpa. After finishing her training, Jill finds out that her grandparents' bakery was closed down and is going to be bought out by the giant corporate MegaMart that is moving into town. Jill decides to open her own bakery from her home in an attempt to raise enough money to buy her grandparents' bakery back before the MegaMart moves in. This is where you come in: helping Jill to raise money by making great cakes for her ever-growing supply of customers.
Throughout Cake Mania, you will bake, frost, decorate, and serve a plethora of cakes to save your grandparents' bakery. Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn't actual involve you in any of these tasks. When a customer appears in your bakery, you touch their thought bubble to hand them a menu. Seconds later, their desired cake will appear in the same bubble. To bake the cake, you must touch the appropriate shape on the oven (four to choose from). Once the cake is baked, you will then pick it up and place it on a frosting station and touch the correct color (again four to choose from). You will then need to move the cake to a decoration station and touch the ordered decoration. Once completed, you must then deliver the finished cake to the appropriate customer and pick up their payment. So instead of a game about actually making cakes, Cake Mania is more so a game about task and time management.
While this may sound simple, and it is at first, Cake Mania goes from easy to extremely difficult in no time. Customers, as in real life, only have so much patience. Each customer in the game has a number of hearts floating over his/her head. When they are unhappy or have to wait too long, these hearts begin to disappear. Once these hearts are gone, the customer will leave the bakery. This will completely destroy your revenue because you will lose the sale and be stuck with the cake that you were making for that customer.
After the first couple of levels, it becomes increasingly more difficult to appease your customers. Their orders become more elaborate, demanding, and harder to fill in the short period of time that you are given. Combine this with needing to make more money to pass each level and it can make even the sweetest Cake Mania player rather bitter. There are several levels that can take ten to fifteen minutes to complete and if you make even one mistake or lose one customer, it will be virtually impossible to meet your sales goal. If this happens, you will have to keep playing that level over and over again until you can do it flawlessly.
With the money that you make, you can purchase additional equipment and upgrade the equipment that you already have. Faster ovens, icing machines, and a television are essential to proceeding through this game. The faster equipment will allow you to fill orders quicker, while the television will help keep the customers happy, as long as they like the channel, until they receive their cakes. Unfortunately, even with upgraded equipment, one mistake can spell disaster and frustration.
As with Cake Mania's gameplay, its graphics and sound are equally as simplistic. The sound effects are rather cheesy and don't always represent what is actually happening. Also, there appears to only be one song (elevator music) in the game and it repeats endlessly throughout. All of the action in Cake Mania appears on the touch screen, with customers being displayed on the top screen. All of the characters are brightly colored and stereotypical but each only has about four different animations that are used to show how they feel. Unfortunately, the bottom screen isn't quite wide enough to display the kitchen and customers all at once. This results in the screen needing to pan left and right periodically. Since this game requires precision and speed, this can result in failing objectives because of a poorly timed screen pan.
Cake Mania appears to be a game that graphically and conceptually targets a younger, more casual gamer. Unfortunately, the extreme difficulty level will most likely alienate this target audience. Still, the game can be fairly cute and entertaining at times. If you are easily frustrated, you may not want to play this game. However, if you seek a challenge and like playing a game that is all about task and time management, Cake Mania could be just what you are looking for.
CCC Freelance Writer