The Great Chocolate Chase: A Chocolatier Twist isn’t the official sequel to Chocolatier 2 – for that, you’ll have to wait until Chocolatier 3 arrives in 2009. But in the meantime, this spin-off admirably captures the spirit and feel of Chocolatier in a time management format that sees chocolate empire heiress Evangeline Baumeister hocking chocolates to a variety of demanding customers.
Evangeline Baumeister, the heroine of the series, has decided to franchise out her chocolate business by allowing selected retail locations to start making and selling their own chocolates based on her world famous recipes. The chocolate creation process is made possible through a serious of ingenious steam-powered machines built by Evangeline’s business partner Klaus – a man who seems to have an unhealthy interest in her recipes.
In order to test out the machines’ durability, Evangeline sets up shops in six different locations known for their extreme weather conditions, including the high altitudes of Iquitos, Peru; the sea-salted air of the Grytviken Whaling Settlement in the Atlantic Ocean’s South Georgia Island, and the bitter cold of Kamchatka, Russia. There are ten levels in each location for a total of 60.
The layout of Evangeline’s shops is similar to other service-themed time management games, with customers appearing at a counter to place their orders and waiting while Evangeline runs the various machines to fill the orders. True to its Chocolatier roots, the game features dozens of wonderful recipes for chocolate bars, truffles, infusions and toppings using local ingredients like mint, coconut, cashews and blueberries.
Every order starts with Evangeline making a jug of the correct type of chocolate (dark, white or milk). Customers might ask for a chocolate bar stamped into a specific shape, infused with a second ingredient like banana, or rolled into a round truffle with a flavored center, all achieved by clicking on the right setting on the appropriate machines. Some customers will make your life easy and only ask for a simple bottle of chocolate sauce. My favorite machine was the little remote control mini-zeppelin that carries away phoned-in chocolate orders in a little box.
The Great Chocolate Chase also stays true to Chocolatier‘s charming early industrial age feel through polished graphics, characters that convincingly represent their surroundings, and music that ooze a quaint turn-of-the-century charm.
Completing quests to earn new recipes is a big part of Chocolatier, and it’s represented in The Great Chocolate Chase through various challenges issued by locals at the beginning of the level, such as earn $1,000, or complete the level without throwing away any chocolates, she’ll gain access to secret ingredients and recipes.
As you earn enough cash to advance to the next level before the timer runs down, you’ll be able to spend your money on upgrades for the shop. Besides the standard speed boosts, customer service improvements (to get bigger tips) and faster machines, there’s also a neat conveyor belt add-on to the counter. Place extra chocolates on it and they’ll travel down the line until the most upset customer picks it up for a little patience boost.
What many would consider a downside to the upgrades is that you lose them upon changing locations and have to restart from scratch. Also, while shop upgrades like better floors and counters look nicer, they don’t seem to have an effect on Evangeline’s performance, begging the question, what’s the point?
Also, it seems like many of the customers get angry very quickly, and with limited ways of boosting their disposition and a somewhat convoluted way of telling how angry they are that relies on jagged edges around a box rather than the standard depleting hearts, count on losing several customers per round, at least until you’ve become a clicking pro. Clicking itself can seem imprecise at times, especially when placing and taking things from the display case.
However, these nitpicks don’t bear too much weight in light of everything the game does right, from extremely polished presentation to fun gameplay, two game modes (story and endless, broken into three difficulty levels), and a "sweet" awards system that rewards in-game milestones with mouth-watering chocolates kept in a decorative box. In short, if you’re jonesing for your next taste of chocolate (or your next time management challenge), The Great Chocolate Chase: A Chocolatier Twist is more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth (or your clicking finger).