Fruit Juice Tycoon strives to reach a perfect blend of genres, combining elements of puzzle and tycoon games into a frantic new style of gameplay. But does this combination of different elements go down smooth? Or is it just a muddled sour conconction that no one would want to consume? Like a real fruit juice stand, there are some things on the menu that you’ll love, and some that’ll leave you scratching your head.
The main bulk of the game combines two different gameplay elements; making fruit juice and pouring fruit juice. To make the juice, you’ll need to complete a fairly rudimentary puzzle game. Move fruit from one column to another. Stack three of the same fruit and you’ll have enough to pour one cup of that juice.
As customers filter in, they’ll want different kinds of juice and it’s up to you to quench their thirst in a timely manner. You’ll select the juice they want, tap on the cup to fill it, and tap again to stop filling. It sounds simple, and it is, but after a few in-game days have passed you’ll find yourself juggling your time between these two gameplay mechanics just to keep up with your clientele. This means matching fruits while the drinks are pouring, and getting back to them before they spill over.
Had this been all the game had to offer, it would be easy to call Fruit Juice Tycoon a bonafide success. It’s a simple concept that grows challenging quickly, is easy to pick up and near impossible to put down.
But the developers didn’t stop there, and things take a turn for the worse. In between days, you’ll be required to manage inventory to make sure you have enough product to get you through the next day. Buy too much and it’ll spoil. It’s a bit of gameplay ripped straight from the formula set by the Apple II’s Lemonade Stand back in 1979, and it feels just as dated. With the main game moving so fast, it’s rather jarring to have the handbrake pulled every few minutes to go and play accountant.
Other elements have been added in as well. Some days, for example, will see you in a juicing competition against other stores. Others are delivery days where you’ll play a great little mini-game where you guide trucks with certain juices to the stores that need them. The delivery game is fun and addictive enough that it could easily have worked as its own standalone iPhone release. Actually, that would have been a nice option. The delivery sections of the game don’t last long, and once you get in the groove you’ll likely find yourself wanting to keep playing delivery for a bit longer.
All of this is wrapped up in a fairly bland story line – again, something that puts the brakes on some otherwise stellar gameplay. You’ll be hard pressed to care about the family business, the characters, or the challenges put in front of you.
The core gameplay – making and serving fruit juice – is fast and frantic fun that you’ll want to play endlessly. The same can easily be said for the delivery mini-game. Unfortunately the rest of the package seems intent on slowing down the fun. Had the days lasted longer, the story been less frequent, and the inventory self-managed, Fruit Juice Tycoon could have been a real gem. Instead the offering is an unhealthy mix of sometimes-inspired gameplay and bland framing.