It happens to be a very cold day as I write this. We had threats of school closings, but thankfully the kids went to school while I bundled up and played Ice Cream Craze. With lots of birthdays in January, we have no problems eating and enjoying ice cream in the winter. While an ice cream game won’t taste as good as the real thing, this one isn’t a bad substitute.

A couple wants to sell their ice cream shop and enjoy retirement. Before they move forward with the sale, their daughter Jan asks to buy the shop. Her parents agree on one condition: She must work in the shop for two months – 60 days – where each level represents one of the days.

Players help Jan fulfill customer orders in this time management-style game. It begins with picking up the ingredients from the conveyor belts including cones, brownies, cookies, and different flavors of ice cream. Jan also gives the completed orders to the customers and collects the money.

In between levels, she can buy upgrades – if she has enough money. These speed up machines, lengthen customers’ patience, and other odds ‘n ends. Plenty of upgrades are available and they’re not easy or fast to get, which should please seasoned players. As I pass level 30, I still have plenty of upgrades to buy.

The game play feels clunky especially in the beginning because of usability and speed issues. For one, you can’t access the options to manage sound and screen size from within the game. Instead, you exit the game and return to the main screen where the options live. Another problem pops up while shopping for upgrades. I click every upgrade item to find out what the upgrade is and how much it costs. It’d be a lot easier if the info would pop up as I move the mouse over it or at least, list the price right next to the item.

Clicking ahead or “chaining” works, but nothing lets you know what you clicked. As gamers know, clicks don’t always take and that could lead to trouble. Plus, it’s not possible to undo any clicks.

Jan moves slowly for most of the first half the game. Normal speed should go as fast as she does when she drinks the espresso upgrade. It’s a little better after she purchases a few speed upgrades. Until then, however, the game drags.

Despite having two hands, Jan can’t carry more than one order. At least, she can pick up cash and coffee while carrying an order.

Getting the hang of managing the food takes practice. Removing one ingredient at a time is possible, but how many depends on the number of plates available on the counter. The game begins with one plate with three more available as upgrades. On occasion, I would complete an ice cream order only to accidentally pick up another ice cream order that lands on top of it. A completed order won’t break – not even to set down an ingredient on a plate or anywhere. Very aggravating.

Fulfilling orders isn’t as easy as in a typical time management game. It doesn’t take much to mix up an order by putting the scoops in the wrong order or adding the wrong topping. Without a doubt, this game will challenge players of all levels. For the first couple of hours, the game play feels tedious, but it improves in later levels.

While struggling with the orders, I try to find Help to see what I can do, but none exists. A tutorial gets you started, but beyond that… you’re on your own. Some may be disappointed that this game only comes in one mode. I personally don’t believe every game has to come with multiple modes, but this one could use it.

Ice Cream Craze has an unusual rule for a time management games. The money could disappear if left on the counter for too long. In other games, not picking up the money left on the counter helps strategically by preventing more customers from coming in. But here leaving the money hurts financially. The money won’t disappear as fast once you buy an upgrade. Good thing? Bad thing? It depends. It might frustrate some while others will see it as another challenge.

The game offers a rich collection of 1950s music, that doesn’t quite recapture the rockin’ ’50s but is decent nonetheless. The same goes for the graphics. When I click on customers to serve their order, they change into weird colors.

For those who scream for ice cream, Ice Cream Craze entertains. Just be patient for the first few hours and the gameplay will pick up. Those who love time management games may enjoy the challenge of “conequering” an ice cream and ’50s-themed game. Best of all, there are no calories or sugar!