If you haven’t yet had your fill of restaurant-themed time management simulations – such as the Diner Dash, Cake Mania or Turbo games – then don your apron and get cooking with Family Restaurant.
You play as the young Jenny, who watches her family business fall from a decent 3-star restaurant to a 1-star dive – and you’re now asked by your father to help turn it into a 5-star joint. If you’re up for the challenge you’ll begin with a quick lesson on how to whip up an ordinary salad, but by the time you’re through in the kitchen (of multiple restaurants) you’ll master plenty of elaborate recipes – even your own creations.
Not unlike the Cooking Mama games for the Nintendo Wii and DS, Family Restaurant lets you play chef as you prepare dishes for customers, and they must be completed within a predetermined amount of time. Patrons sit down at a table and place their order to the waiter or waitress, and you see a dish appear at the bottom of the screen. Clicking on it changes the view to a close-up of your kitchen counter, an image of what you’re supposed to make in the top-left corner of the screen and your ingredients underneath. For example, it might be a grilled sea bass with vegetables, so you prepare the dish as close to the picture as possible by using your mouse to dress up the plate. When you’re done you’ll be awarded points based on how closely you copy the dish.
Similarly, an ice cream dessert recipe might include two side-by-side scoops of strawberry ice cream, topped with whipped cream, cherries and a graham cracker on top. Follow it as close as possible – and finish it within the time allotted – and you’ll do just fine.
In many cases you need to cook the dish, too, such as putting a margarita pizza in the oven for 10 seconds after preparing the sauce and toppings. If you take it out of the over before the timer is at zero you’ll be penalized, just as you will if you keep it in the oven too long and let it burn the cheese. You’ll also be able to throw some french fries and chicken wings in a deep fryer, but you also have to keep an eye on them so they don’t get too well done.
Every few levels or so you’ll be asked to create your own dish and give it a name. The only caveat is you need to use a specific number of ingredients, such as three, before you can save your creations. This is likely because you might be inclined to create something really simple, so you can whip it up fast and thus easily reach your daily cash minimum. It seems customers enjoyed my “Marc’s Delight” ice cream sundae with plenty of chocolate sauce.
Now, in order to best make good use of your time, you’ll need to multitask by working on two or more dishes simultaneously. For example, you might have 8 seconds to spare until your pizza is ready to take out of the oven so you can begin to prepare a veal dish. But don’t forget to toggle back to the original dish or else you’ll burn your pie.
But this is where my main beef comes in – if you can pardon the pun. If you so much as make one mistake, and you have a few other dishes waiting to be made, you might as well exit the menu and choose Replay to try the level all over again because it’s virtually impossible to catch up if you fall behind. Next thing you know all of your dishes will be flashing at the bottom of the screen and you won’t be able to prepare any of them in time. Needless-to-say, this is frustrating and discouraging, and the only real issue with this otherwise fun and challenging game.
Shortcomings aside, Family Restaurant offers a lot of bang for your buck as they’re two modes (Story and Endless), 35 unique levels and more than 60 ingredients to include. It would be great of you could download even more recipes and ingredients to keep things “fresh” in the kitchen longer, but virtual chefs won’t be disappointed with this sizzling casual game.