Publisher: Alawar Games
Developer: Boolat Games
System requirements: Windows XP/Vista/Win 7; 1 GHz CPU; 1 GB RAM; 110 MB hard-drive space; DirectX 8.0 or later
Genre: Time management
ESRB rating: Not rated at press time
Release date: Available now
Review by: Lieren Teeling
Time management is a bigger game genre than most people think. They’re extremely popular with casual gamers, with hundreds available for download or as flash games all over the Internet. Amelie’s Cafe: Summer Time is the latest in Boolat Games’ and Alawar Games’ Amelie’s Cafe series.
Summer Time takes Amelie to the tropics, where she wants to open the best beachfront cafe ever. You must help Amelie turn a run-down hut into a high-class establishment. Boasting more than 50 increasingly difficult levels and a unique match-3 mini-game, Amelie’s Cafe: Summer Time promises an engaging, long lasting challenge.
Like most PC time-management games, Summer Time is controlled entirely by mouse clicks. You click on customers to take or deliver their orders, and on chef stations to tell employees to cook, pick up orders or clean their stations. A bar along the bottom of the screen gains icons if you can move Amelie along quickly; customers come and go fast and have little patience for Amelie falling behind on their orders. The icons can be combined for bonuses in money, customer patience and other things as the game progresses. As levels are completed, you can choose between various upgrades to the cafe that improve how it looks or how well the chefs work.
Summer Time introduces a slight twist on the time-management mechanic with a match-3 game. The ability to use the bonuses when you want to meet your money quota, be patient with the customers or clean all the stations at once really helps keep you from going under in later levels. With colorful, stylized sprites on nicely painted backgrounds, Summer Time looks great without needing anything fancy.
Unfortunately, Summer Time has very little else going for it. It doesn’t really stand out from other time-management games in concept or gameplay. Frankly, it falls short of them. Frantic and repetitive, each level is a stressful clicking frenzy in which you deal with impatient customers and dirty stations while trying to make time to match your bonuses. Finishing a level gives no palpable sense of satisfaction or reward. Instead, it causes a rather a burnt-out feeling of relief, coupled with an urge to have a cup of coffee and gather yourself for the dreaded next levels, each of which is as dull as the last but more frantic with more demanding customers and more things to juggle.
I tried really hard to enjoy this game. I just…couldn’t. All I felt on finishing it was “thank God it’s over.” I doubt even true fans of the time-management genre would find this one interesting for more than a few levels before getting bored.