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iPhone Game Review: Gourmania

Posted by: Tina at 11/4/2009 10:09 PM
I have a new found respect for people in the service industry. My iPhone review of the week is a part simulation, part seek and find game based in the restaurant business. You start off as a rookie in Gourmania, flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant, and progress to creating meals in sushi restaurants and the like. By the time you hit a professional stance, you’re ready for a competition amongst the top chefs as you race against time to prepare various meals coming from all your previously gained experiences.

This is an iPhone game, so it is all about tapping the appropriate part of your screen. You can also zoom into whichever establishments you’re working in at that particular moment to get a better look at what ingredients you need to find to complete your order. Tapping didn’t always exactly work like a charm. I found that even if you’re tapping directly on top of the hamburger buns, the game refuses to zap it into your order. I would resort to multiple taps due to my impatience with the game for not picking up on my queue, but would be hit with a deduction in the money I’ve earned for tapping too many times. This counts as a penalty in the game, for obvious reasons. Zooming also felt glitchy and uncomfortable. Fortunately, you could double tap an area to zoom into the specified region, which was definitely a time saver in a race against time game. You eventually get used to the way the game moves, so the random miscommunication between you and your iPhone wont always be a problem. My only qualm is that given the nature of the iPhone, I want a game that moves with me and not vice versa.

Gourmania is pretty fun once you get into it. Definitely a great aspect to the game that really saved it from the reigns of monotony was the addition of bonus points. You gain bonus points by completing your tasks in a set manner. For instance, multi-tasking by preparing (cooking, chopping, baking, etc.) your ingredients  for your three separate orders at the same time is one way. Gathering ingredients in their set order for their respective dishes will also give you some extra monies. Keep an eye out for the hourglasses hidden around the room to gain time bonuses. You also get a chance to earn more money by a sort of mini-game that you’ll encounter about twice in each establishment. You have to match your ingredient with a series of slots that scroll across your screen. Making combo matches will earn you extra cash.

Now, I’m not exactly a master chef. If you’re like me and will not be able to recognize some of the ingredients they throw your way (apparently a garnet is a pomegranate?) there’s always the option of hitting the “hint” button. This was another uncomfortable control of the game. You have to click on the incredibly tiny name of the ingredient before tapping the “hint” button, and an obscure circle of sparkling specks allegedly indicates the general location of the ingredient in question. I often used this button as more of a “replenish my stock” button than a “help” button, because you’ll notice that you’ll end up using your ingredients quickly. The items will eventually replenish on their own, but there are generally only a few locations where they will be found, so you will have to wait or hit the “hint” button if you’ve used them all.

The controls were by no means terrible. They did attempt at some intuitive controls, like the double tap for zoom, but I have seen better (as well as worse) controls for an iPhone game. What is good about this game, however, is that it felt perfect for some casual gaming when you have just a few minutes to kill. The levels are short, so commitment isn’t necessary. You can still progress through the game gracefully with a series of time-constrained visits. I wouldn’t particularly say that I can’t wait to hop on the bus to my campus to play this game, but it definitely passes the time well and when I pause the game I don’t feel like I’ve wasted a level or my time. When the time calls for some mindless iPhone alone time, I don’t want to feel like I’ve compromised my time or the effort I’ve put into the game. Gourmania certainly handles the idea of a casual round of gaming on your mobile device with their series of about 60 levels within each of the 8 establishments that you progress through. Ultimately, while Gourmania isn’t exactly an attempt at an innovative game for what is becoming a thriving gaming device, it’s still perfectly enjoyable for all intents and purposes of casual gaming time.