Developed by Super Villain Studios and published by Zoo Games, Order Up! for the Nintendo Wii is a delightfully hectic crash-course in gastronomy. Unlike the competition, Order Up! is a well-rounded title that expertly mixes cooking challenges with that of simple restaurant management. The deeper gameplay, varied recipe list, excellent controls, amusing visuals, and challenging difficulty make this an ideal Wii game.
In the beginning of Order Up! you will find yourself in a fast food joint called Burger Face. While there, a pimply adolescent with a crackly voice takes you through the ins and outs of making the perfect burger and fries. This initial level serves as a tutorial, as it will quickly get you used to the control mechanism for flipping patties, frying potatoes, leafing lettuce, and slicing tomatoes. These simple actions form the base upon which you will build your culinary repertoire. Additionally, they’ll get you used to the meters and timing systems used to grade your preparation skills.
Each ingredient will be judged on a scale from poor to perfect, depending on how well or how quickly you perform the action. Furthermore, the meters measure when you need to stir or flip an item as well as whether it is done or not. The cooking meter does this by indicating the food’s current temperature (doneness), and a secondary indicator arrow will quickly advance, showing you when to stir or flip the ingredient. For the best results, you’ll want to take off the cooked food and keep the flip and stir indicator in the green zone.
The controls in Order Up! are well executed and rapidly become second nature. The B button on the Wii Remote serves as your function button. Any time you want to flip, chop, slice, grate, stir, dredge, bake, process, or drop food into oil, the B button is used along with a corresponding motion that is appropriate to the task at hand. The A button is for selecting both raw and cooked ingredients. Switching between items is done via the Wii Remote’s D-Pad or simply by selecting new ingredients from the order ticket. If you need to add a special ingredient like spices, then press the minus button and the spice menu will appear. This simple set of commands is very user-friendly and efficient, making it easy to make tasty vittles and score sweet tips.
Though completing a single order is quite easy, no matter how complex the recipe may be, the game quickly becomes stressful when multiple tickets need to be dealt with. After impressing the food critic in the diner, you’ll find your restaurant’s popularity swell, and you will have to deal with the increased demand. This isn’t so easy. In fact, cooking several meals to perfection, spicing them to your patrons’ tastes, and getting them out piping hot can be quite a challenge indeed. Occasionally, an entire day’s work can be thwarted by a restaurant-clearing grease fire because you forgot to tend to the mac and cheese while slicing an onion. This balancing act will have you frantically multitasking throughout the game. After all, timing is everything in Order Up!
As you progress in the game, assistant cooks, equipment upgrades, spices, black market recipes, special food stuffs, and additional restaurants become available to you. This is where the game outshines the competition. These simple management responsibilities do a great job of making the game more engaging; it actually feels like you’re cooking for a reason. This element has been sorely missing from the otherwise well-executed Cooking Mama series. There’s definitely something to be said for earning coin, pleasing customers, and buying new locations.
Quality assistants in the kitchen are keys to your success. The help that you can hire varies greatly in both price and ability, but all are essential to helping you deal with the work load. For example, instead of preparing each ingredient yourself, you can delegate the preparation of an item to one of your workers. Be careful not to overwork them though! What’s more, keeping your restaurant clean and constantly updating your equipment is essential to getting the best results. This combination of strategic use of helpers, cleanliness, and quality equipment make it much easier to execute meals to perfection, netting you a lot more coin, pleasing your customers, and developing renown.
In addition to quality help and a shiny kitchen, it is essential to please your clientele by catering recipes to their tastes. Some customers like things spicy, others like their food sickly sweet, and the hillbilly needs a lot of aromatics to cut through his own B.O. In order to please those picky patrons, items such as spices, black market recipes, and specialty ingredients can be acquired by shopping at the Farmers Market or calling for a special delivery before opening for the day. It’s a good idea to always keep your stock of specialty items full because, unlike standard ingredients, they won’t replenish themselves and you’ll be stuck with less than raving reviews and scanty tips.
Fortunately, this mechanic is not a complete guessing game. Clients will let you know what they liked or disliked about a meal with comment cards at the end of the day, or you can ask them directly by selecting their portrait on the order ticket. However, sometimes their comments can be a little cryptic. In this case, it’s best to pay a coin to have their special needs revealed to you. By catering to their desires, you will quickly develop a happy group of paying supporters. This extra facet of gameplay adds an additional layer of complexity for players, and it helps to keep the repetitive customer orders somewhat fresh.
After mastering the 12 standard recipes and at least four of the eight black market recipes in the Gravy Chug diner and, of course, pleasing the food critic, you will have accumulated enough stars and coin to unlock and purchase new locations featuring Mexican, Italian, and fine dining fare. These additional locations bring you new recipes, assistants, ingredients, challenges, and customers. After acquiring all the restaurants in town and establishing yourself as a bona fide chef, you will be tasked with winning the Fortified Chef Competition. This is a showdown that will prove you’re the best culinary artist around.
There are also a number of mini-games in Order Up! Sometimes you’ll have to douse flames, flick away a rat infestation without your customers seeing, wake up a dozing employee, scrub plates in front of the health inspector, help the paper delivery boy with his route, etc. These games are an attempt to break up the gameplay a bit, but in the end they’re all pretty boring, and you’ll find yourself rushing to get through them and on to the meat of the title. Other than the single-player campaign, a Quick Play mode is also provided that allows you to go to any of the unlocked restaurants and hone your skills with each recipe.
Presentation in Order Up! is very nice. The simple animated graphics are quite befitting for the Wii, and they do a great job of injecting lighthearted humor into the mix. The goofy customers are wonderfully stereotypical caricatures. Also, I loved their little comments; they always brought out a chuckle or two. However, there aren’t nearly enough different customers throughout this game, and their comments become woefully repetitive.
As you can probably tell, I really enjoyed Order Up! It had everything I had hoped for and was surprisingly fun. Unfortunately, it is just a single-player game with forgettable mini-games that can be torn through in just a few hours. Additionally, the only replay value to be found is in honing your skills to perfection and upping the difficulty for a second play through. Nevertheless, this is a nice casual title that should be very appealing to most who pick it up. I can’t wait to see what innovations a second edition to the series will bring.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
The simple visuals are standard for the Wii. However, the animated caricatures inject a lighthearted and whimsical feel that’s very charming. 4.2 Control
Controls are largely excellent. A few ingredients are initially difficult to work with until you figure out the trick. 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The comments are very funny, but the repetition of comments sticks out like a sore thumb. 3.6
The frantic gameplay, varied recipe list, solid controls, and challenging difficulty make this an ideal Wii game. However, it is very short.
3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.