Wendy’s Wellness, Fitness Frenzy, Fitness Dash… I’m sensing a new trend here. Are fitness games the new wave for the time management genre? Either way, Wendy’s Wellness is a new health spa themed time management game that’s a healthy addition to the line up.

It’s light on story, but the plot is well integrated into the game. You play as Wendy, a real health buff. After the last fitness center in her town closes down, she decides to open her own, with the help of her fitness fanatic uncle.

The game play is similar to Sally’s Spa, where the goal is to escort your clients through a variety of different stations. Customers entering your shop usually need to warm up. This is done by dragging them to the warm up station, and clicking them to start the warm up. After a few seconds they’ll finish, but may need an extra click to use the weights. Customers might then request a new station, such as the treadmill, spa bath, massage table, yoga center, or tanning salon.

To work the treadmill, you need to set the speed. A spinner will appear, and you must try and click when the arrow is in a green space. To work the spa bath, you need to select the proper settings. You can do this by hovering over each one, and looking for the sun icon over the correct option. The yoga center is similar, and you need to select the proper pose by looking for the sun icon. The tanning salon, massage table, and warm up center all require just basic clicks, and as you advance you can hire assistants to take over these centers for you. After the customer has been completely served, a dollar sign will appear over his head, and you can drag him to the check out line.

A variety of customers enter the shop, and it’s your job to serve all of their needs before they lose patience. Patience is shown by the hearts over a customer’s head. Just like in real life, some people are more patient than others. Later in the game, you can buy a mini bar, with drinks to boost the patience of one customer, or scented oil to boost the patience of everyone in your shop. If a customer loses all patience, she’ll leave without paying.

Each day, you need to earn a minimum amount of gold to advance. You can earn more tips by serving customers quickly.  Even if you’ve been promoted, you can replay levels at any time to aim for an expert score.

As usual, you can buy upgrades and assistants to make the business more lucrative and efficient. You can generally afford to buy one upgrade every level or two, which is pretty reasonable.

In addition to upgrades, there are experience points, which is a neat concept. You earn experience as you play, and you can use this to gain special character upgrades. For example, the first appearance boost can give you a "40/100 chance" of earning an extra heart. There’s also a speed bonus (+20% to Wendy’s speed), a tip bonus (+10%), a treadmill bonus (adds 50% to the correct speed), a water spa bonus, and a yoga bonus. There are two or three levels of upgrade for each of the bonus areas, and as you can see, they are extremely generous and really affect the game play.

Another twist is the addition of VIP clients. These clients come into your shop just like everyone else, but will be marked with a VIP stamp. After the day is through, they require personal training, which is done in the form of twelve mini-games.

All of the mini-games may be played in the main menu. In one, you play a short platform-type game, where you must click the mouse to jump over obstacles, and collect gold dollar signs. The more you collect, the more you earn. In another, you play a bingo-style game. Yet another has you scrolling along the bottom of the screen to collect apples and avoid cakes.

There’s also a picture rotating game, where you must rotate the wheels to form a proper picture of a footballer holding his weights in the air. For the gymnast, you must click right and left to keep her balanced on a beam. There’s a boxing game, where you need to hit a swinging punching bag in the right spot by clicking your mouse on the bullseye. Another game has you rapidly selecting the largest collection of balls out of three heaps, which is tough when they use large numbers of balls.  There’s a card game, where you need to click on the apple cards as they are flipped over, and avoid other cards.  There’s also a memory game. These mini games are simple, but they break up the game a bit and add something different to the usual time management tasks.

The game length is standard, with 50 levels, 5 for each of the 10 unique settings. Wendy’s Wellness also adds a lot of variety in each level. The customers and their needs appear to be randomized, so you get a different set of customers each time you play a level. This might be why repeating a board with the same strategy yields different results.

Special events happen as you play. An assistant might get married, leaving you to cover for her for the whole day, or a tub might break down and be temporarily out of service. Occasionally, Wendy’s Uncle covers for her, and he has his own special bonuses.

On the downside, the music is sub-par, consisting of an unvarying, looping midi that very quickly gets old. The graphics also take a while to warm up to. They’re cute, but not as polished as we’ve generally seen in this past year.

Still, it’s fun to play a time management game that’s straightforward, with great pacing. Wendy’s Wellness is challenging and frantic, without being too tough. With plenty of new additions and twists, it’s a good addition to your time management collection.

Gamezebo tip: If you like this game, try Fitness FrenzyFitness Dash and Sally’s Spa.