My Sweet Shop’s beta shows promise despite a few missing ingredients
Playing Meteor Games’ My Sweet Shop in its current state is like stealing a bit of dessert before it’s been properly mixed and baked: while it’s decent enough, the absence of a few essential ingredients can quickly leave a bad taste in your mouth. As it stands, the current sugary mix of endearing art design and fast-paced candy baking is enough for a rush, but this promising beta has a long way to go before it leaves you begging for more.
In an awkward conflict between harvesting and baking, My Sweet Shop requires you to grow the ingredients you’ll use to make your candy in pots right on the shop’s floor. Leaving aside the fact that OSHA might have a few issues with this, this quickly creates a jumbled work environment in which your “TNT Machine” ends up getting cozy with your stash of lemons. While it makes for a fairly easy transition from pot to platter, the clutter quickly dashes any comparison to a real candy shop. The shop itself has little soul, and cosmetic upgrades are currently limited to a basic lamp, a bamboo plant, a lava lamp, a table, and a barstool. There’s also an unfinished section for “Automation,” but there’s no indication as to whether this means you’ll get to hire friends or computer-controlled employees to tend to your shop.
Once you’ve harvested your ingredients, you can put them into thirteen different candy machines as you level, with some requiring ingredients created with another machine. After you’ve used them to produce some candy, you can then place your confections on the counter for your visitors to buy. Much of the game’s excitement currently comes from keeping your platters constantly filled for your ravenous visitors, and at the higher levels this process can get very intense. At this time, however, the only aim of all this work seems to be to make more money. Candy (at least in My Sweet Shop) doesn’t spoil, and there’s no need to worry about the plants for your ingredients withering. Similarly, allowing hours to go by without putting anything on the counter apparently has no negative effects. Some restrictions would go a long way to improving the gaming experience.
For now, the game is marred by an expected series of bugs, but the most annoying of these is a complete game shutdown accompanied by an apologetic error notice that forces you to reload. This happens fairly frequently, and the usual effects are either the full completion or complete rollback of your planting timers. If the latter happens (which, admittedly, happens less frequently) all that work you put into baking that popping sugar and those lemon slices was all for naught. After playing intently for a few minutes, finding yourself back at square one can be a maddening experience. There’s an option to save the game at any point, but this seems out of place in a Facebook landscape where most games save constantly and automatically.
Still, it’s only a beta, and seeing what Meteor Games accomplishes with My Sweet Shop in the near future promises to be a treat. There’s some considerable potential here, but Meteor has a long way to go before My Sweet Shop can match up to competitors like Café World and Chocolatier: Sweet Society. Unlike My Sweet Shop’s faithful customers, who flock to the shop’s counter even with there’s nothing to offer, many casual and social gamers may find themselves walking out the door if the final product fails to show considerable improvement.