Here’s a useless factoid: did you know that there is a strong positive correlation between the amount of ice cream eaten and the likelihood to commit murder? It’s true! But, it’s not fair to say that eating ice cream causes crime…the real reason is that both are associated with hot weather.
Ice Cream Dee Lites has nothing to do with crime statistics (happily), but plenty to do with yummy ice cream! Dee’s Grandmother owns “Scoops,” the hottest (or rather, coolest) ice cream shop in town. It’s Dee’s dream to work there, but Grandma won’t hand over the reigns of her business unless Dee can prove she’s got what it takes. Full of entrepreneurial energy, Dee starts off by selling ice cream out of her little Chill Mobile, and finds herself navigating her way through 60 levels and four unique ice cream shops before she’s through.
If you’re familiar with games like Cake Mania and Delicious Deluxe, you’ll spot many similarities. Ice Cream Dee Lites doesn’t offer anything particularly new or original to the genre, but it does follow a popular theme (ice cream) and play style of time management and service games.
You can follow Dee’s quest in story mode, or battle against yourself in endless scope mode. When a customer arrives at the counter, click him or her to give them a menu. After a few seconds, an image will appear over their head, and you’ll know what they’re craving. Assemble cones by selecting the proper base and ice cream scoops, and add toppings to match the pictures. Once you’ve earned the upgrade, you can add whipped cream and cherries to increase your profits.
If a customer is losing patience (evident by the number of patience ice cream cones next to them), you can give them free samples to chill them out while they wait. Once you have their order assembled, bring it to them and collect your pay on the counter. You can store your mistakes with the freezer upgrade or discard them, but you lose money each time a cone goes uneaten.
In between each level, you’ll be given the option to use your cash to upgrade the shop, buying more topping and flavor varieties, and getting faster equipment and extras to keep customers happy.
There’s a good amount of thought and humor put into the sixteen customer characters. Whenever a new customer type comes to your shop, you’ll see a blurb about her likes and dislikes, which ought to give you some idea of how much trouble she’ll be. You can expect to find the lovey-dovey romantic couple, lots of Grannys, sweet little girls, pregnant Mommies, brainy scientists, and giant robots among your more patient customers.
The more difficult to please include emo teenagers, overworked employees, spoiled brats, and larger-than-life foodies. If you look for diversity in game characters, you’ll find characters of different genders and races and sizes, and even one with a disability.
The artwork really stands out as fun, unique, and quirky, with a seemingly hand-drawn style that looks mildly reminiscent of the Flintstones. The colors are bright, and the animations are very smooth and amusing. The music is done in 1950’s style (sans vocals), so the whole atmosphere feels upbeat and energetic.
Despite setting up the right atmosphere, Ice Cream Dee Lights hasn’t quite mastered good pacing, especially in the beginning. Dee moves a bit slowly, and the customers aren’t too frequent or demanding, so things drag a bit until mid-way through the second shop. Buying upgrades, like faster foot speed, eye glasses, and a uniform make a big difference towards speeding Dee up, and upgrading your equipment also makes it possible to serve everybody quicker. Once you’ve reached the halfway mark, the overall pacing drastically improves, and you start getting that more hectic feel that time management games are praised for.
Also, the controls take some time getting used to. It can be frustrating if you select the wrong ice cream order or cone type, and you must wait until everything is finished before discarding it and building the right order. The recycle bin is very close to the whipped cream dispenser, so I lost a few cones by clicking too far, which was also a bummer.
Ice Cream Dee Lites is a cute time management game with its own personality. Still, it never quite reaches the frenzied a pace of a game like Diner Dash, and isn’t as smooth to play as Ice Cream Mania or its ilk. It takes a long while for things to start flowing, so you need to be patient in order to reach the good parts. Die hard fans of the genre (especially fans of Cake Mania) may dig it, but otherwise its appeal may be limited.