Forgive me if I don't come across as an expert in this review. Don't get me wrong; I've played plenty of match-three games. And after watching an endless parade of them hit the market, I still enjoy them. It's just that I do have a life, and therefore haven't played every single one. So the gameplay in Pastry Passion might not be unique. I don't know. But it is fun.
Although the storyline is vague, it seems you're cast as either a student of the culinary arts working at a bakery or a new employee tasked with learning the ropes. Either way, within moments of loading Pastry Passion, you'll be swapping cupcakes, chocolate bars and more in an attempt to create matches of at least three items, all of which are laid out on a square grid.
If this was all Pastry Passion had to offer, the game would be in trouble. But that's not the case. In Patisserie mode, which is the core of the game, customers place orders for a variety of pastries. You collect the ingredients for these treats by creating matches on the grid. Four plates appear beneath the grid showing you which ingredients you need to collect to make a particular indulgence and how many of them it'll take.
For instance, one plate might contain a cupcake with a five attached to it, a chocolate bar with a three and orange slices with a seven. Once you collect those ingredients, the pastry is automatically created, although you've got to click it to wrap it and allow a new plate of ingredients to appear.
Patisserie levels don't employ a time limit, but you won't want to take too long to fill the orders you receive because you win or lose these stages based on the number of Quality Stars you collect. It works like this: beneath each plate are four Stars that fill up with color as you gather ingredients. If you don't fill them fast enough, the Stars slowly empty. When you complete the pastry and click on it, you earn the number of Stars still filled with color. If a level calls for you to collect 48 Stars, you might be asked to make 15 pastries, and must earn your Stars with those orders. If you don't, you can retry the stage, as there are no lives to lose.
You'll end up spending the Stars you collect on either "Quality" or "Bonus" tools, all of which are geared to help you win. One of the first Quality tools you'll be able to buy is the Lucky Star, which generates a random star on the board for you to click and collect. Later, you'll be able to purchase Quality Chocolate, which increases the numerical value of random chocolate bars (allowing you to collect a single bar that's actually worth several bars).
Bonus tools do a variety of things, such as collecting the ingredients off different portions of the grid, increasing the quality of your current pastries, refreshing the ingredients on the grid and so on. All you have to do to activate these is click them. You can purchase as many Quality and Bonus tools as you can afford, but you can only use one of each per level.
As you progress through the 60 levels in Patisserie mode, you'll encounter Exam stages that challenge you to collect the ingredients on a procession of plates before they fall off the end of a conveyor belt. These stages are real nail-biters and give the gameplay a nice adrenaline boost. The second of two modes in Pastry Passion, Arcade, employs a similar mechanic, only it keeps going until you lose.
No pastry is complete without whipped cream and a cherry on top, so to dress up the gameplay, the developers included a trophy room, new ranks as your score goes up and a Score Frenzy mode that you activate by quickly making a lot of matches. Doing this often is a great way of earning a high score.
Like your favorite bakery, there's a lot to like in Pastry Passion. For starters, the matching action in the Patisserie levels can be as slow or as fast as you like. (The game allows you to continue swapping ingredients even as it's eliminating those from a previous match and filling the empty spaces.) And the use of increasing Star requirements and ever more powerful tools creates the perfect difficulty curve. Whether or not you like the game's artistic style will depend on your tastes, but I found the cartoony characters amusing and well drawn.
And like eating the random desserts at a church picnic, you'll occasionally shrink back while playing Pastry Passion. Although the gameplay is easy to figure out by watching what happens, there's no explanation in the tutorial or on the help screens as to how Quality Stars work; you're just told to collect them. And from time to time in Arcade mode, you'll be asked to gather certain ingredients, but there won't be enough of them on the grid and no new ones will be added where you can quickly use them. Also, my eyes didn't care for the levels in which I had to collect chocolate pies and cups of cappuccino, as they looked too similar. Repetition also sets in after a few levels.
These niggles aside, Pastry Passion offers a heaping spoonful of sugary fun. If you can stomach one more match-three game, it'd be a good one to try.
- Fast action. Stylish artwork. Finely tuned difficulty curve.
- Repetitive gameplay. Some items look too much alike. Help file and tutorial leave out important information.