You don’t need to love football to enjoy this time management game
You do not have to be a football expert to enjoy Busy Bea’s Half-Time Hustle, a new time management game created by Gold Sun Games where you’ll help Bea to support the football team of Blunderton through five different leagues and revealing Mayor McGreety’s dark plans for the town along the way. While the game could be seen as a sort of sequel to the Megaplex Madness series, it revamps the concept by adding a lot of features and polish to the already entertaining gameplay.
Busy Bea’s Half-Time Hustle features 50 levels and five different modes, of which the two hardest ones have to be unlocked. If you plan on completing the game in every possible mode you will have to go through 250 levels, which indeed results in a very high playing time, especially considering that levels change slightly if replayed. It is also worth saying that the varying grades of difficulty are really distinguishable while playing, and you can even change between them before each level.
The basic gameplay can be described as a mix of Cooking Dash and Sally’s Spa. Each location features different stations, fsuch as chairs, hot dog, soda and exit stations. Each station can be upgraded with two star pads where customers and employees can be placed. Small bubbles above customers will tell you their current preferred station, while the number of hearts represents a customer’s patience. Customers can be placed on star pads by dragging, but you also have to take the color of their clothing into consideration, because yes, Busy Bea’s Half-Time Hustle also features color-matching and multipliers similar to those found in PlayFirst’s various Dash games.
You make money from serving customers at the correct station, color-matching bonuses, and swapping customers. How much money you make mainly depends on how many patience hearts a customer has left, and how high the color multiplier at the preferred station is. There are three possible goals to reach: regular, expert, and master. While the regular goal only provides the earned money, meeting the expert goal offers a gold coin and reaching the master goal even gives the player one repair credit for the current stadium. Gold coins can either be spent into upgrades directly, or you can use them at the arcade to play five different minigames which are football-related. It’s very nice that the player is now able to decide whether to play arcade to earn more money, or to just skip it.
One of the game’s most outstanding features is the way it combines the fact that players can move Bea themselves to complete tasks OR drag customers directly. Bea can entertain customers, catch footballs for additional gold coins, prepare balloons for extra money, repair stations and chairs, as well as working at stands. However, the player still is responsible for most of the work; Bea is only a helpful support, which makes this feature all the more interesting.
Apart from the regular levels there are also so-called puzzle levels, in which you have to play without Bea, or you will find the entrance to the stadium in a terrible condition, full of junk and with a lot of damaged stations. Often every station will be blocked by a customer, and it is pretty challenging to drag the customers in a way to pass the level. All in all it has to be said that Busy Bea’s Half-Time Hustle is a very challenging and complicated game, even though the flow is much more seamless than in the Sally series, due to the welcome lack of constant minigames within a level. The game gets hard early on, and newcomers to the genre should definitely try the easiest mode and see if they can keep up with the pace.
Unfortunately there are some issues that prevent Busy Bea’s Half-Time Hustle from being perfect. For one thing the puzzle levels can be really frustrating, and by being unable to sell upgrades this problem even gets intensified. If you notice that you have bought the wrong upgrades and are stuck in a certain level, you have no other option than replaying the level over and over again to earn money for different upgrades. Furthermore the restoration of the stadium entrances is not as motivating and colorful as fans might be used to from the Megaplex Madness series.
All in all though I feel safe to predict that Busy Bea’s Half-Time Hustle will be one of the strongest entries into the genre of this year, which makes this first week of February a pretty great one for fans of time management games. Whether you are a football fan or not, if you can see past minor issues and a cheesy storyline, this game offers a really hard challenge, a huge number of interesting features and new twists, as well as a well-above average playing time.