With most of us having the chore of going to the grocery store at least once or twice a week, who wants to sit down and play a game taking place in a supermarket? Supermarket Management puts you on the other side of the store: management. Instead of figuring out what to buy, you help customers find what they need. Supermarket Mania contains all the good ingredients expected in a time management game.
The hero of the game has finished college and needs a job. By chance, CEO of Superstore Bob meets her at a traffic jam. Impressed with her handling of the jam, he invites her to work for him in his grocery store. She starts with stocking shelves, checking out customers and giving them their orders in the deli and bakery. Slowly, she works her way up with her creative ideas to improve the store and gains a few helpers.
She opens new stores and when that happens, she is back at the bottom doing all the work again. At least, until the store earns more profits that she can use to hire employees and add upgrades. After a few stores, she runs into the union leader who requires that employees take a break. So any time she has employees, she needs to give them a break and do their jobs – a clever twist.
Though similar to Supermarket Mania in game play and graphics, this one comes packed with more features and variety. Like any time management game, your job is to reach your money and customers served goals as fast as you can. If you reach the expert time, you’ll get more coins for your shopping trip to upgrade your store. You need every coin possible as it’s hard to come close to buying everything before you move on to the next new store.
Almost every cashier asks, "Did you find everything all right?" Well, it’s true that customers can’t always find what they need. So they stand there with a bubble indicating their need. You need to drag ‘n drop them to the right shelf. This is the only drag ‘n drop in the game, something that bothers a few people. The rest is point ‘n click. Don’t you love it when the store hands out free samples? That’s in the game, too. When customers want a sample, you need to point ‘n click your way to make the sample match what they want.
At the deli, customers request seafood, cheese or meat. After selecting the item, they have four things from which to choose for each category. You must watch their faces to figure out what they want. In the bakery, different kinds of cakes and toppings scroll across the screen and you need to select the right ones to match the customer’s order. Actually, the bakery begins with one item and you’ll graduate to two or three items as you upgrade.
On top of all this, you still need to ensure shelves are stocked, customers checked out and carts filled up. All of these activities keep the game from becoming monotonous, and the game lets you multitask. If you click a shelf to stock and then make a sample for a customer, the employee will still go to the shelf to stock it while you make the sample. It keeps the game from ever feeling "slow" as so many tend to do.
Just before you think the game feels repetitive, you run into one of two mini-games, which are sales. In one game, people line up at different cash registers. You distribute the sale items to the customers based on their requests. In the other, you work the deli counter distributing orders of one, two, three or four items per customer. This can turn frenzied.
While the overall game’s production values are high, it contains a few annoyances. In the bakery, you can click and the game ignores you. So you have to wait for the cake to come back and click again. The people just don’t warm up to you. One guy always has his hand on his head like he’s looking for something. The young shelf stocker does this little Egyptian dance. Cute at first, but both get old fast. The female employees’ poses and celebrations feel stiff and stereotypical. Even the hero of the story never gets a name and acts as fake as Elle Woods does in Legally Blonde.
Sometimes you want to yell at the stock boy to "Stock the shelves yourself!" instead of have to click all the shelves he needs to restock. Supermarket Management has a nice help file (albeit one weird typo), but you can’t access it from the main menu – only from within the game when you pause it.
Nevertheless, this solid time management game is worth adding to your grocery basket of time management games, or at least sampling. But don’t expect it to be a best-seller.