Horatio’s Travels puts you in the shoes…er, flippers…of a penguin entrepreneur as he sets off to bring yummy ice cream around the globe. Given the cartoonish graphics and overall cuteness and simplicity, I’d have to say that it’s a game made for kids or families, and not your typical time management fan.
Horatio is an odd penguin. He’s just not satisfied with penguin life, so he sets off on an adventure and becomes a traveling ice cream vendor. The game follows his adventures as he travels across eight locations and 55 levels to bring ice cream to cute fuzzy animals, some with disturbing large heads.
To play, you need to click the customers and wait for their orders, shown in a thought bubble over their head. Then, assemble the order by selecting the right ingredients in order. Go ahead and pick a sundae bowl or cone, and bring it to the ice cream scooping lemurs. Once you’ve brought the yummy stuff to the critters at the counter, you can collect payment. Keeping customers happy means more tips, and unhappy customers will leave without paying.
Your objective is to meet the minimum cash goal by the end of each round. There are standard and expert goals to aim for, and you can replay levels at any point. In between scenes, there are plenty of upgrades to buy, and you can take them with you as you advance. The best is the panic button, which makes everybody happy. I wish more games had one of these! There are also bonbons and a radio to increase customer patience, and fancy gear to make Horatio and his employees faster.
The length is about standard, taking several hours to beat. Getting an expert score the first time around isn’t too difficult, so the replay value is questionable, unless you are a child or new player.
The graphics are a definite strength. Everything is animated, and fun to watch. Horatio is totally cute. He bops his head, flaps his wings, tosses fish in the air and catches them in his mouth, and a host of other animations. The customers and staff are equally cute, and include all kinds of critters like lemurs, monkeys, sheep, chickens and chicks, vultures, polar bears, and skunks. As you move through each landscape, your customers change to fit the location.
The music is good in most cases, but varies by location. The tropical island has marimbas in the background, which is fun, but some of the later levels have elevator music.
Unfortunately, you also can’t chain tasks too far in advance, and there doesn’t appear to be any way of making combos. This means much simpler gameplay, which could be a drawback if you like to be challenged.
The pace is good, and customers lose patience quickly. However, you have to go slowly when you make orders, or else Horatio will mess things up. If you try to make a second order while the first is in your hand, you might get a different result than you planned! Many time management games correct for this, but Horatio’s Travels does not, and the end result is the need for extra precision. This may be a small thing, but it’s a huge obstacle when you play, because it means you can only handle one item at a time if you want to avoid unintentional mistakes. In fact, you need to think about each move to avoid this problem, making it a real barrier to enjoying everything.
I really wanted to give Horatio’s Travels a higher rating, because the production values are good, and the cuteness factor is high. I just couldn’t get past the fact that Horatio made mistakes so easily. Otherwise, it’s entertaining, and the graphics are enjoyable.