In Burger Rush, Heidi convinced us that her low-fat, delicious burgers could be considered high cuisine. But in Restaurant Rush she'll have to do more than cook burgers if she's to convince the snobby judges from the World Culinary Federation that she's a good enough chef to open her cooking school.
The basic match-three / time management gameplay of the original Burger Rush is intact (think Stand O' Food meets Jewel Quest meets Cake Mania). Your goal is to fill the orders of the customers who walk up to the counter by matching the correct number of ingredients on a match-three grid. If a customer places an order for a burger, for example, you might have to match 7 beef, 5 lettuce and 8 tomato to fill the order.
The sequel goes far beyond burgers, however. In fact, Heidi has expanded her menu to include five international cuisines that span all sorts of fun new recipes including dim sum, Peking duck, lasagna, chicken parmesan, grilled salmon steak, surf and turf, chimichangas, pork enchiladas, ratatouille and filet mignon with foie gras. With these new recipes come new ingredients to match on the grill like seafood and rice.
Customers have a limited amount of patience and don't like to be kept waiting, but you can feed them desserts to make them happier. For an extra cash boost, you can also add a soup or an iced tea to an order.
You can purchase new desserts and recipes at the shopping mall in between levels by spending tokens that you earn throughout the game. You can also spend tokens on upgrading the soup and iced tea machines and – in one of Restaurant Rush's new twists – you can also upgrade the ingredients themselves by visiting a farmer's market, which adds value to recipes that use them. (For example, if you upgrade vegetables, then all recipes that use vegetables will be worth a little bit more.)
Finally, there's a juke box in the restaurant that lets you play different tunes to soothe customers. The catch: because each customer has a different personality, they will each respond to different songs. A savvy player will learn to switch the songs multiple times during a level depending on who's waiting in line. You can buy new tunes for the juke box at the shopping mall as well.
Restaurant Rush brings a few other new features to the table that are worth noting. One is that every level you'll have an optional secondary challenge to focus on such as complete the level without any angry customers, serve 30 customers in one level, or pass a level without serving any desserts. There are also optional cooking competition mini-games that pop up every once in a while where you try to create as many dishes as possible in a given time limit to earn extra cash and tokens.
Finally, there are also multiple game endings based on how well you perform, and finishing story mode unlocks a new Arcade mode, which extends replay value.
Restaurant Rush boasts wonderful graphics and interesting locations, and instead of simply recycling the same old cast of customers, there's a whole new set of eccentric patrons to meet: some of my favorites were the Opera Lady (a large, blond-braided women in a Viking helmet brandishing an axe), Supergeek (a skinny guy straight out of a comic book convention), and Weird Lady, an old scraggly woman surrounded by a multitude of cats.
Like its predecessor, Restaurant Rush is a challenging, often frantic click-fest. Achieving Expert score isn't a cakewalk, because the points requirement is generally at least double the regular goal score. Often, too, trying to satisfy a sub-goal is counter-productive to achieving Expert score so you'll have to make a decision about going for one or the other.
It almost seems a shame that there are so many recipes because I only got to see about two thirds of them by the end of my play-through. Something else I took issue with was that soup and iced tea were a little tricky to click on – sometimes I'd deliver an order by mistake when I was actually just trying to add a side dish to it.
In terms of being a satisfactory sequel, however, Restaurant Rush does everything right by keeping what made Burger Rush work and taking the gameplay in some fun new directions. Fans can rest assured that Restaurant Rush is more than just a rehashed Burger Rush with a few extra recipes.
- Greatly expanded cuisine and recipes. New gameplay elements and strategies. Fun graphics and new customers. Multiple endings.
- Soup and iced tea clicks don't always take. So much stuff to buy that you won't get to see it all. Sub-goals can interfere with getting Expert.