If time isn’t on your side, I’ll make this review as quick and straightforward as possible: don’t buy this game. If you’d like to know why, however, keep on reading.
Photo Mania is one of those time management games, where you’re frantically clicking to help customers – this time the setting is a photography studio. When customers walk up, you click them to stand in front of a backdrop and they’ll tell you – via a speech bubble – what color background they’d like (such as blue, pink or green), what kind of paper (glossy or matte) and any particular pattern.
You’ll go through the motions of clicking the camera to take the photo (which has a limited number of snaps available), then you need to click the customer to go back to the street (or later, while indoors, to the back of the room) and process the film by bringing the negative to a printer, selecting the appropriate paper and then giving it to the customer, who leaves you money before they take off. Your goal is to make a specific amount of money each day to advance to the next level – and because customers aren’t going to wait forever for their photos, there’s a time element, too.
Earned money can be used to upgrade your equipment, such as a better camera (the Power Camera X costs $1500, for example), faster printer, nicer paper, better patterns and other items to help make the customer experience better. You can also buy a cat to entertain those waiting.
The first issue is the game-play is, well, lame. There is nothing exciting, original or challenging about this game. Secondly, the screen feels cluttered with its items, such as the paper being on the other side of the printer (away from the camera), though you need to select the appropriate paper first.
Also, you can’t multitask effectively since there are limitations – for example, you can have a second customer’s photo taken while you wait for the first customer’s photo to be processed by the printer, but if you click the camera a second time, which sends the second customer’s photo to the printer, you now can’t access the first photo! On a related note, I ran out of film by clicking the camera too many times, and a dollar sign appeared, but the game didn’t let me pay for more film (therefore I had to start the level all over again).
The instructions on how to play the game are very thin and if you get stuck there is no Help button or anything. The game only has the one story-based mode and the locations aren’t too different from one another.
Production values are poor, too. The intro story about Ellie walking her dog, Gimp, is both brief and bland. The graphics are unattractive and the repetitive Muzak soundtrack is enough to make you scream after about 20 minutes.
Really, there is no reason to buy Photo Mania. If you’re a fan of time-management games, there are many dozen good examples of the gene done right. Don’t get me wrong – we welcome new game ideas opposed to yet another Diner Dash or Cake Mania sequel, but this Russian import lacks innovation and polish.