Two things many modern women dream of: The chance to escape reality by spending long, leisurely days sunning themselves on a remote tropical isle and the opportunity to rub elbows with big-name Hollywood celebrities.
Pleasingly, you’ll get the opportunity to do both in Cathy’s Caribbean Club, in which the titular star – stranded in paradise after a cruise ship accidentally leaves her behind – must wait on the seaside getaway’s most exclusive customers.
A more family-friendly spiritual successor to genre pioneer Betty’s Beer Bar bearing obvious similarities to later Cinderella story Diner Dash, the name of the game is customer service. Manning the spigots of one or more smoothie machines, you’ll essentially have to fulfill customers’ orders as they suddenly sidle up to the bar and issue specific drink requests in the form of icon-containing thought bubbles.
These thought bubbles, located near indicators that show patrons’ current patience level (which steadily declines the longer it takes you to serve their order) clearly explain what flavor of drink the buyer wants and in what specific glass. To please them, which nets you cash and customer service stars tradable for profit- and performance-enhancing upgrades purchasable between scenarios, you’ll have to deliver… and fast.
Doing so simply requires clicking on a variety of colorful buttons and objects including both random individuals and the smoothie machine itself. That said, as with any small business, your work here isn’t all fun and games. Consider. Customers sometimes sit back and lounge near the seaside, placing orders from faraway distances. Empty glasses must be cleared away from any seat before a patron can be served, then dumped in the sink to dispose of them. The further into the adventure you get, the faster tempers quicken. There’s only so much time to rake in the dough before the bar closes. And poor Cathy’s not so good with the hand-eye coordination; she can only juggle two glasses at once.
Don’t judge this one at face value, though – especially given the title’s colorful and attractive, but ultimately kooky hand-drawn visual aesthetic. (Although the game definitely gets bonus points for its quirky calypso music and cool spate of sound effects ranging from squawking gulls to waves lapping at the shore.) Ignore those periodic grammatical gaffes as well, and the initially charming, but ultimately headache-inducing gibberish language patrons – ranging from vampires to Vikings, pirate and punks – spout as well.
What really sets the outing apart is its cool arsenal of bonuses, varying between customer-entertaining live bands to barmen who’ll help mix drinks, chairs which attract VIP customers and parrots that pick up empty glasses. Much as we additionally dig the theme and overall excellent handling as well, points must further be awarded to the superb interface. Case in point: Quick-witted players can actually queue up actions, so they needn’t suffer because the computer’s too slow to register commands. In other words, the sky’s the limit in terms of just how much caffeine you can suck down and spit out in the form of lightning quick jabs and twitches on a run for a record-breaking high score.
Adventure mode, the beefiest choice in terms of content, offers a solid 50 levels of excitement spread across five locations including tropical beaches and snazzy hotels. Alternately, you can always race against time (happily served customers add extra seconds to the clock, those who leave subtract them) in the satisfying Free Play or Crazy modes. (The latter of which picks different upgrades for you each time…) So no matter how you slice it, you’re definitely getting good value for the money.
All of which leads to the natural verdict that Cathy’s Caribbean Club is a natural winner, especially as spring breezes start to finally fill the air. If you’re interested in getting summer started early, what can we say? Mosey on up to the keyboard, pour yourself a tall one and get ready to quench your thirst for fun.