I’ve often fantasized about being rich enough to own a nanny – someone to cook my meals, do my laundry, clean up after my pets, and generally leave me to enjoy the carefree high life where chores are things of the past. Nanny Mania offers a glimpse into that life, but not from the perspective of the leisure class. Instead, you’ll be down in the trenches with the hard-working nanny herself.
Combining some of the time management features of games like Diner Dash with the look and feel of The Sims, Nanny Mania is an interesting concept that is certainly fun for a while, but that has trouble maintaining interest across its 150 levels.
The nanny is hired to help out the Mayor of Suburbia and his budding family, which at first only consists of his wife and their newborn daughter. Since the mayor and his wife are far too busy to actually cook, clean up after themselves, or take care of their own offspring, it falls to the nanny to run the household and keep it from descending into chaos.
This is pretty easy to do at first. Players see a nice top-down cross-section of the house with its various rooms, and messy areas are highlighted in yellow to be easily seen. Cleaning is accomplished by clicking on the offending mess (highlighted in yellow). A typical day might involve straightening out the couch cushions, cleaning out the fish tank, changing baby’s diaper and feeding her, picking up dirty clothes off the floor and laundering them, making beds and cooking dinner for the family.
Some chores have more than one step to them, like cooking a meal, which involves taking food out of the fridge, putting it onto the stove, serving the family, and putting the dirty dishes into the dishwasher.
Things soon get a lot more hectic as the Mayor and his wife begin expanding their family. Eventually there’ll be four children running around the house leaving messes wherever they go. Toddlers have a knack for knocking over lamps and vases, pre-teens love to draw pictures on the bathroom mirrors and jump on couches, while teenagers leave mounds of dirty clothes everywhere. And the kids aren’t the only culprits. You’ll also be scrubbing the tub after Mom takes a bath, and wiping up the muddy footprints Dad leaves behind as he trudges in from the golf course.
The day ends when you manage to clean up all the messes without time running out. Therefore, each stage can be over very quickly if you’re strategic and fast about the way you clean, or can drag on and on as people keep making new messes that you can’t get on top of. Unlike Diner Dash and others, you don’t get extra points for stringing together combos or doing tasks in a particular order.
Nanny Mania is a great concept but could have benefited from being fleshed out a little bit more. As it stands, the game gets repetitive quickly. Once the first child reaches her pre-teen years, all of the different chores have been introduced into the game and there’s nothing new to look forward to except grinding through the rest of the levels as all the kids grow up. I had very little trouble achieving a Perfect Score every time around, even in the more hectic levels with all four kids in full mischief mode.
Eventually the nanny will retire and the family will move out of the house to be replaced with a new family – times two. In other words, you can go through the whole cycle three times as three different characters if you choose. But everything’s the same. The house’s interior even looks identical to the first one’s. You’d think that the new homeowners would at least re-decorate – and give the player some variety to look forward to as well.
In short, there are just too many levels in Nanny Mania that play and look exactly the same, causing the game to suffer from too much repetition. However, the game does have a lot of potential if the makers still plan to deliver the rumored add-ons and expansion packs that will introduce new content. If fleshed out with pets, special themes (like birthdays and holidays), new locations like the backyard, friends, and new family members (like Grandma coming to visit), Nanny Mania has the potential to be very cool.