Bar Star Review
Time Management as a genre has been mobile for quite some time. Diner Dash pretty much set the whole train in motion and has been on phones for years now. While managing a diner has spread to bakeries, zoos, farms and god knows what else not much has changed in the style of gameplay the games offer. Bar Star is the first iPhone time management game I’ve played in quite some time that goes beyond the mind-numbing basics.
On its surface, Bar Star certainly gives you that Diner Dash feeling. Patrons come in, order, pay and leave. Managing numerous patrons in different stages of this visit is just as important as ever. But in Diner Dash (and most games like it) the patron just places a generic order and you deliver it, in Bar Star they order particular drinks (or mixes) that you need to put together manually. One person has a long island iced tea, one orders a rum and coke and one a glass of white wine. These need to be created or poured by the ingredient and then delivered.
What this means is that if someone orders a beer you simply hit the tap and serve it up, but if they want a mixed drink it’s more complex. For a rum and coke you click to pick up a glass, walk over and click the rum, walk back and click the coke. When you have multiple different mixed drink order to keep track of it gets pretty difficult.
Working quickly and without mistakes earns you tips from the patrons, and you can use this money to buy upgrades to your bar to help you out. They range from the obvious like being able to move or mix drinks faster, to cooler options like a bouncer that will automatically check ID’s for you at the door. While not totally unique to the genre, Airport Mania did a good job of incorporating this buying to improve feature and I really like how it’s implemented here.
Bar Star adds in all of these elements slowly so you understand what each aspect does. Initially you’ll just be pouring beers, then wines and then start the drink mixing. Same goes for the upgrades. They happen slowly at first while you feel all the options out. It all happens over the course of a few levels so by the time it gets to the hard stuff, you feel ready for it.
My only complaints about Bar Star have nothing to do with gameplay at all, which is always good. The animation of the people look a little off, and while not a huge deal it can be a bit distracting at times. My other complaint is more of a personal distaste, but I couldn’t stand the kitschy language used. More than once I was referred to as part of a group of “Boyz” and was told to go enjoy some “Bromance” with my BFF. It’s weird and certainly out of left field. They should have just left the whole “this is what the kids are saying” shtick behind.
Time management games are always a great experience, especially on the go. They’re great time wasters and are perfect for drop in/drop out gameplay. The only problem with them is that, for the most part, they’re exactly the same. Sure they get harder and add in minor changes over the course of play, but it just never gets very complex in action. Bar Star manages to put their own stamp on the genre by mixing all sorts of different drinks, and I couldn’t imagine a more delicious cocktail.