Fast-paced, well-crafted, yet unoriginal time management game
Amelie is back for another culinary adventure in a new game by Alawar, Amelie’s Café: Summer Time. After her success in the big city, our heroine decides to open a new café on an exotic island and to put her own business skills to the test again. We generally recommend this new time management release despite some obvious shortcomings.
The game features two modes, the story mode with 49 levels, and a survival mode with three different grades of difficulty. The story itself is not much more than a filler, repeating the “I’m founding a successful business” plot for the umpteenth time. And don’t be fooled by two modes and the number of levels – compared to similar games levels, are quite short, so that you should easily see the end of story mode after around two and a half hours.
Gamers who have already played the first Amelie’s Cafe will find that the basic gameplay of the sequel does not differ too much from it, which is not necessarily a bad thing. However, a little more variation and challenge would have added a lot to the game’s overall value. The upgrades are nearly all the same as in the predecessor too; some of them being only decorative while others make your staff work neater or faster.
Your basic task is to serve various meals such as salad, ice cream, cake or drinks to customers at the counter or tables. Amelie delivers the orders, while staff members at the stations prepare the food. The pace of Amelie’s Café: Summer Time becomes fast early on, because you have to make sure that the stations of your staff are clean, orders must be delivered, and that new meals are being prepared.
On top of that, there is also a match-3 minigame taking place during every level, which is another carry-over from the first game. Five different symbols appear occasionally at the bottom of the screen and by creating matches of three or four of a kind you get various rewards. This adds a lot of depth to the game, since it strongly affects your play whether you go for sweets, cleaning, money, freezing or speed bonuses. Sweets will make your customers more patient, while speed makes Amelie walk faster. In fact, each of the bonuses is equally worthwhile, what makes this feature of the game even more interesting.
One of the weak points of Amelie’s Café: Summer Time is the rather short playtime and the lack of variation. It is great entertainment and offers good graphics and a fast-paced and quite challenging experience, but in the end the player might feel that the game is finished way too soon and furthermore that the levels seemed to be more of the same instead of really differing in customers, look and gameplay.
This becomes especially clear when some of the level descriptions state: “Just another day of work” and then “Another one…” Such descriptions hardly display any creativity or attention to detail by the developer, nor do they serve to continue the storyline. (If there had been any decent storyline to begin with.) On top of that, a new mini-game, some innovative upgrades, or at least cafés that are clearly distinguishable would have been welcome and needed additions.
Two other minor problems we found with Amelie’s Café: Summer Time are related to game mechanics. For one thing, it is impossible to cancel chained actions, which clearly is a pity. Also, the freezing bonus colors the screen light blue for a short time and it becomes very hard to recognize orders or to click properly.
On the positive side, the survival mode is definitely more addicting than similar modes in other titles. Here you can play, earn money, and upgrade your café until you have lost three dissatisfied customers, and the upgrades can be purchased by reaching certain amounts of money. Furthermore, there are a lot of achievements you can go for in every level of the story mode. Of course there is the run-of-the-mill expert goal, but you can also try to earn a specific number of bonuses that are displayed in the top of the screen.
As it is, Amelie’s Café: Summer Time represents a fast-food snack in the time management genre – quickly finished, lacking innovation and with a few minor flaws, but still satisfying and entertaining. In the current situation of the casual game market, a new time management game even of this quality is not that easy to find, so fans of the genre will definitely enjoy this one.