Cake Mania: Lights, Camera, Action!
With her hometown restored to its former glory and her time-travelling days long behind her, Jill is gearing up for perhaps her greatest challenge yet: motherhood. But there's no time for maternity leave when you're running your own business, and when a movie crew descends on Bakersfield to film a modern version of Pride and Prejudice, Jill and her friends find themselves busier than ever catering to a new batch of eccentric Hollywood customers.
As fun as the Cake Mania series is, there's only so much you can do with cakes alone. The previous game, Cake Mania: Main Street, introduced additional shops into the mix, and Cake Mania: Lights, Camera, Action! continues the trend with great success.
We're getting ahead of ourselves, though. With 60 levels, the bakery is still at the heart of Lights, Camera, Action! There, you'll assemble cakes by baking the base, applying icing and toppers, and serving to customers. Each completed cake earns you money, which you can then use to shop for better equipment in between levels.
Gameplay in the bakery is similar to past Cake Mania games, but not identical. For one thing, Jack has to take over and do a lot of the running around since Jill needs to stay off her feet. And since Jack is a bit of a klutz, he has a habit of breaking the equipment. Broken equipment runs at half efficiency until you pay to have it repaired. As for Jill, she's still behind the counter (albeit seated) helping out by decorating cakes with healthy fruit toppings. If a customer requests such a topping you'll play a short mini-game on the fly that involves clicking on dots to squirt icing in the correct pattern.
In addition to the bakery, you'll also get to help out at Risha's fashion boutique and Gordo's pizza joint. It's with the inclusion of these two additional shops that Lights, Camera, Action! really starts to stand out from the crowd. Both offer gameplay that is significantly different from cake-decorating. Gordo's restaurant is a behind-the-counter cooking experience where you combine ingredients on the counter to make pizzas, pastas and grilled dishes. Risha's shop combines time management with a bit of seek-and-find gameplay: As customers arrive, you must find the clothing they want by finding it on the store shelves
Each secondary shop offers an additional 25 levels each, for an impressive total of 110. Even more impressive than the number of the levels is the fact that none of them seem like filler. A generous number of upgrades and new recipes/ingredients/clothes to purchase make the levels grow richer and more challenging the further along you play. Be prepared for a few unexpected twists here and there too.
The customers and their antics provide endless entertainment, whether it's the giant blue yeti who stuff the menu into his mouth when he's finished looking at it, the psychic who can show you what she wants without needing a menu, or the Gimli-like dwarf who, if he gets impatient enough, will give the unlucky person standing next to him a poke with his axe.
Customers are there for more than just comic relief, too. Their behaviors will affect the gameplay to a high degree, requiring quick-thinking and strategizing. In fact, this can almost make the game too hectic at times; especially in the bakery when you've just made a multi-level cake only to have a ninja or yeti incapacitate the customer it was intended for, or when customers change their orders because the movie star walked in.
Brilliantly, though, Lights, Camera, Action! introduces a Relaxed mode that takes the edge off if you find yourself getting overwhelmed. In Timed mode you're racing against the clock to earn the minimum amount of money before the store closes by serving as many customers as possible. In Relaxed mode, there's no timer - you simply serve customers until you've reached your dollar goal. The downside is that you can't shoot for the expert score in Relaxed mode, and you also tend to earn less money.
There are plenty of nuances to the game that I haven't even mentioned here, since doing so would take another 800 words. (Even the town map screen is delightful to watch because of all the tiny animated details in it.)
The fact is that any one of the three shops in Cake Mania: Lights, Camera, Action! could have been spun off into its own game and been perfectly satisfying - even stellar. That you get them all in the same package really is an incredible value, and well worth the download.
- Impressive length and variety of levels. Three distinct gameplay types. Entertaining customers and story. Relaxed mode is a great addition.
- Gets too hectic at times thanks to naughty customers.