Although it appears that the chef is giving the middle finger to us, this title is rated “E”.
One could forgive Wii owners for overlooking the recent release of Order Up!. From the dodgy quality exemplified by a majority of third-party Nintendo titles, the generic cover art, and lack of marketing push, gamers could easily bypass this buried gem. As publisher Zoo Games inaugural title, the game is a near-perfect combination of engaging gameplay, solid controls, and colorful graphics.
As the game opens, players are treated to a brief cinematic that utilizes the title’s in-game engine. Although Order Up!’s graphics are cartoonish, they are effective in establishing the mood, and are well polished. Players are first walked through a brief tutorial where they create a hamburger and fries.
Cactus, bell pepper and propane tank? We must be working on the taco truck!
Unlike Cooking Mama’s unresponsive Wiimote controls, Order Up! strives for simplicity and efficiency- gestures are clear and typically easily performed. Players chose steps from a recipe card, pressing the “A” button to initiate an activity. For the hamburger, players first place a patty on the grill- then once an overhead cook meter reaches the green ‘perfection’ zone, players flip the patty with the ‘B’ button and a gentle tilt. Finally, the player removes the patty, once the other side has cooked sufficiently. Players are then introduced to the mechanic that sets Order Up! Apart from other cooking games- the need for multitasking.
Players are called upon to prepare multiple meals concurrently; otherwise food will slowly cool on the cook counter, shown by a handy temperature gauge. And here lies Order Up!’s most intriguing balance- players can rush individual meals for smaller tips. But smaller tips mean less money to spend on expansions- from spices, additional employees, extra recipes and new restaurants. Occasionally, everything will descend into an entertaining disaster- food will burn, thereby ruining meals and displeasing customers.
We don’t know what looks less appetizing- the dirty griddle or the coagulated fry oil.
Occasionally, puzzle aspects surface in the game- Players will need to discern how a vampire character takes his steak, for example. Bosses recall the food critic from Ratatouille– tough, demanding individuals who can elevate or ruin the reputation of a restaurant. Additionally, inspectors will show, requiring the player to prove they can expertly wash a virtual dish.
While cooking, cleaning, and micro-managing a greasy spoon may sound mundane, the game is consistently entertaining. The title consistently offers new bits of content and presents new challenges, to keep the game from growing stale. The game expertly bridges multiple audiences; children will be able to accomplish basic tasks, but may require the finesse of an adult to truly excel. Wii audiences of mixed genders will also want to seek out this entertaining, creative game.
Final Grade: B+