Club Paradise is a light summer pick-me-up
A beach resort on an idyllic island is probably a dreamlike vision of many people, especially around this time of the year. However, Club Paradise proves that working there can be quite the opposite of peace and relaxation. The player follows Summer (a quite original name considering the theme) who just starts an internship at a resort that has been wrecked by a hurricane.
Club Paradise features 75 levels, all of which are not exactly long, in only one mode, and experienced gamers will be able to finish the game with all expert scores after three to four hours. Those levels are spread over three different locations: the pool, which is managed by Summer, the beach, which is overseen by the lifeguard Mick, and finally the club, which is run by the resort’s owner, Kim. You have to reconstruct five parts of each location, which means that you will visit those locations five times.
The layout and the tasks at each part of the resort are quite similar. Visitors have to be dragged to beach chairs, and your current character has to deliver ice cream, cocktails or sun milk according to their orders. There are three goals you have to fulfill in each level. To simply progress you have to earn a specific amount of money, which is extremely easy, but to reach the expert goal you have to finish a level within a certain time frame and on top of that you have to collect patience stars from your visitors. When visitors are relaxed and ready they will walk to the pool, the sea, or the dance floor by themselves, and here the only new and (for a short time) most interesting innovation comes into play.
As soon as you drag a visitor onto the pool, a green marker will appear that continually grows and shrinks. The larger the marker when you drop the visitor, the more money you will earn. Markers differ according what type of activity a visitor prefers, and when you place numerous visitors at the same time you should be careful that markers do not overlap. Some activities such as playing beach ball even require two or more players at the same time. This feature is quite interesting and has not been seen in a similar fashion before. You can also chain similar actions and plan ahead, but for one thing it is quite hard because of the quick pace of Club Paradise, and for another thing the game suffers from wrongly registered clicks, a quite annoying flaw.
Those activities are the only remarkable difference between the three different locations, but in the end it’s the same feature anyway, only that instead of swimmers you are placing conga dancers. So while Club Paradise seems very diverse and interesting for the first playthroughs of the three locations, it really is not. Products to deliver do not really vary throughout the game, upgrades are nearly the same for each location, and although customers do vary in appearance, patience and tipping, you won’t really notice those differences in reality.
For each location there is a nice mini-game after five levels. At the pool you have to hit drums in the right order, at the beach you have to pick the correct pieces to recreate a sandcastle, and at the end of each club session you have to mix cocktails for customers by choosing the required ingredients. Those games are quite fun and a nice change of pace from the regular levels. However this still does not hide the fact that Club Paradise is not as varied and interesting as it pretends to be.
And that is exactly the kind of feeling we got after playing through the whole game. It’s not that Club Paradise has any obvious problematic flaws, but it does not stand out in any way either. The graphics are weak and a little disappointing compared to similar titles, there is not much strategy to the game, the upgrades are absolutely common and repeat from location to location, and even the new feature wears off pretty quickly. The game is packed with a lot of levels, customer types, products, upgrades, and nice ideas, but nothing is executed convincingly, so that the game feels lacking overall, which is clearly a pity.
Club Paradise is only average in nearly every respect. One year ago we would have recommended the game without a doubt, but by now it feels like a lighter version of the Delicious series. The most ardent time management game fans will probably still be able to enjoy it, but we advise everyone to try it while keeping in mind that not much changes throughout the game.