If you are a fan of both time management and hidden object games, then you might want to check out Gourmania. It’s a cooking themed game that blends both genres and ingredients in a fun but unoriginal dish, modelled after the popular Go Go Gourmet.
Gourmania isn’t big on story. Your goal is to build your fortune, and earn a reputation as a stellar master chef. You get to start at the local fast food joint, and work your way up to bigger and more prestigious spots as you advance. Throughout the game, you’ll get to acquire a variety of restaurants and work with different cuisines. There’s a sushi bar that serves a variety of eastern foods, an Italian restaurant, a beach bar, and a vegetarian kitchen to name a few, with 8 locations and 60 levels in total.
The mechanics of Gourmania are virtually identical to Go Go Gourmet. In a nutshell, you find ingredients in the kitchen hidden object style. Then, you use those ingredients to prepare dishes for customers before their patience runs out. The actually cooking part is much simpler in Gourmania, however, and mostly involves dragging food to one of the appliances overhead, like the chopping board or fry cooker. Once an order is complete, you pick up cash, and work on another order. Clicks are mostly (but not always) responsive. It can sometimes be tough to access an item that is laying behind another one. There’s a 20 second penalty for random clicks.
For the most part, ingredients are straightforward, though you might be asked to find the occasional unusual one like a garnet or guava. Also, not all items are clear – the coffee looks a bit like chocolate mousse. If you don’t know what something should look like, you can use the hint function, which continually refills. Also, hovering over any food item will eventually bring up a named description. Don’t expect all of the items to look the same – a plate can be any color or shape or size, and a kiwi might be cut, sliced, or whole. This is kind of neat, and makes the game more challenging.
It should be mentioned that specific items are only in several places on the screen. So, there might be only 3 bottles of wine, or four ice buckets in the room, and these will disappear and reappear as you play. Eventually you can become very familiar with item locations and get expert scores more easily.
There are lots of ways to earn bonus cash, and you’ll need to master these in order to win. Gathering all of the items to fill one order in one swoop will earn you an “order + $10” bonus. It’s worth it to aim for an expert score on all levels, since this will earn you more customers, which ultimately means more profit on future levels. It’s also worth upgrading your appliances when you can, since this will increase your overall speed. If you use three appliances at the same time, you’ll get a money bonus, and the appliances will temporarily work twice as fast. Lastly, if you can chain picking up cash, you’ll also receive a bonus.
Sometimes there are extra items hidden in the boards which can help you out. Hourglasses are the most common, and these extend the amount of time you have to complete the day, which means a better chance of earning expert level cash. Batteries will speed up your appliances.
Unlike most time management games, you don’t need to play through the restaurants sequentially. If you can afford to buy a new restaurant and have met the basic requirements, you can do so even if you haven’t completed the others yet. The difficulty level stays pretty consistent for most of the game.
Every three levels, there’s a bonus game where you can unlock new recipes. This is pretty simple, and involves matching food items to their corresponding silhouettes that roll by on scrolling bars. As far as I can tell, there’s no way to lose, so all this really does is break up the game a bit.
The graphics and artwork are all pretty good, though much of the character’s speech animations are funny to watch. The music is hardly noticeable in the background. With unlimited opportunities to try and get expert scores, there’s plenty of replay value. The game itself is on the long side, considering the genre, so you can expect at least 5 or 6 hours before you beat every level and obtain Master Chef status.
I couldn’t help but add, the recipes are very odd. It’s never made very clear what you are cooking. I can’t imagine what type of gourmet pizza involves ingredients like mayonnaise, hotdogs, and mustard. I’m not sure I want to know, either…but, maybe that’s why I’m not a chef!
Gourmania isn’t quite as involved or challenging as Go Go Gourmet, and it lacks a good story to keep things focused and interesting. Giving players a chance to jump around allows more flexibility, but also makes the game feel like it lacks structure. However, on the whole, Gourmania is still a fun game to play if you enjoy hidden object gaming and want something that’s not too “dark” or story focused, or if you happen to be a cooking game junky who can’t get enough culinary-themed diversions. It’s fun and relaxing to play, and offers just the right level of challenge for most gamers.