If you’ve ever gone to the movie theaters to escape the summer heat, then you’ll appreciate the premise of Megaplex Madness – Summer Blockbuster. It’s a frantic time management game that’s full of new twists, with a flexible difficulty level that’s sure to challenge even the most seasoned players.

Megaplex Madness – Summer Blockbuster may be big on game play, but it’s light on story.  After successfully restoring five historic theaters in the first Megaplex Madness, you decide to tackle something even more ambitious – building a huge movie Megaplex from the ground up. This enormous theater has five sections, each  themed according to the movies shown there, like Sci-Fi, Action Hero, Romance, Western, and Horror flicks.

Many of the core game play elements will be familiar if you’ve played the first in the series. Customers enter the theater with their needs displayed in big thought bubbles over their heads. Click and drag them to the appropriate stations to keep them happy. 

Like the original, you can swap customers with opposite needs in order to earn a swap combo. Customers each have an associated color, which matches the color of their clothing, and you earn extra cash for making color combos (sort of like Diner Dash). This is done by having customers with the same color clothing use the same stations consecutively. Each time you chain a customer of the same color type, you earn an extra $1. If you can do this 5 times in a row, you can also earn a free arcade token.

Some customers are more patient than others. In a new twist, characters become frustrated if they lose 2 hearts in a row. When this happens, they will make a horrible grunting noise and try to walk out! You can grab the furious customer before he leaves, and drag him back to the appropriate service station.

In addition to different levels of patience, and different colors, customers also have favorite stations. Grampy and Granny, for example, like the restrooms. The Cowgirl likes popcorn, and Cletus, well…we’re not sure what he likes because he changes his mind so frequently.

If a customer asks for something you don’t have, like nachos if you haven’t bought a nacho station, you can…erm…make him change his mind by picking him up and violently shaking him back and forth. Whether it’s persuasion or brain damage, I don’t know, but he’ll forget what he wanted and pick something else.

In order to advance, you need to meet the target income goal, shown at the bottom of the screen. In normal mode, this needs to happen before the day runs out. If you’ve met your target daily goal, you can still keep playing to try for the expert or master goals.

In yet another clever twist, before you play you get to check out the customer forecast. From here, you can see the types of customers who’ll be visiting your theater. This allows you to plan your strategy before you play.

You can also play the arcade minigame from the map screen, if you’ve earned any tokens. These can earn you more money towards upgrades. The arcade games include a marble popper, a simple match 3, a platformer, and two timed click games (one which is a spoof of Dance Dance Revolution). These are optional and cute, although they aren’t too well integrated with the main game.

There are 4 difficulty levels, each with their own quirks. Normal is your standard play mode, and you must beat this to unlock more difficult levels. Hard features cranky customers, while Insane is…well, insane! Relaxed mode is best suited for players who like to play without pressure. In relaxed mode, there is no timer, so you play until you’ve met your goal. There’s also no way to get expert or master score levels, and no madness mode, so it’s slightly more limited.

Megaplex Madness – Summer Blockbuster is definitely a long game. There are 200 levels to play, if you count those in relaxed, normal, hard, and insane mode. You can easily end up with days and days of game play.

The production values are alright. Each chapter has it’s own unique theater music. You can unlock these by buying the music player upgrade. In this sequel, the graphics have changed from 3D to more cartoonish 2D. While it’s purely a matter of opinion, they do seem slightly less polished and more fuzzy, although still attractive and colorful.

It does become extremely difficult to beat after a few hours of game play, which is probably the only drawback. You can back track and select “relaxed mode,” but this will start you off from the beginning again. As you play, you can upgrade and unlock new stations, and hire extra attendants. Even if you lose, you get to keep the cash you’ve earned, so it’s technically easier to beat a level if you have to repeat it…although you still have to play smart to win.

Megaplex Madness – Summer Blockbuster is a challenge, even in relaxed mode, so it’s certainly a game made with advanced time management gamers in mind. If you’re looking for a game that’s fast and frantic, and you like plotting out a good strategy as you play, then you’ll find plenty of fun in Megaplex Madness – Summer Blockbuster. Be warned, though, it’s not for people who are easily overwhelmed, and it’s quite possible you’ll be switching to relaxed mode to win.

For similar games, try Megaplex Madness: Now Playing, Cinema Tycoon 2: Movie Mania, and Hollywood Tycoon.