Stand O’ Food 3 is the best game in the series so far, but isn’t without issues
Ronnie is back for another burger-turning adventure with Stand O’ Food 3, and this time he will try to make his business a spectacular success in Tinseltown. While there was no real storyline in the predecessor, the newest instalment makes more of an effort and even connects Ronnie to Nikki from another G5 Entertainment series, Supermarket Mania 2. Though it still has a few issues, the game is a definite improvement over Stand O’Food 2.
Stand O’ Food 3 features 25 restaurants with three or four levels each, which can be finished with varying ratings depending on your performance. There are numerous awards to obtain, and you can also choose between three grades of difficulty, which is definitely required in a game that complicated and challenging. While the easiest option might be the cup of tea for people who normally dislike time management games due to the hectic pace, the hardest option might even be a serious quest for veterans of the genre.
The basic gameplay has mainly remained the same and doesn’t stray too far from the series’ roots. Apart from burgers, Ronnie also prepares pies and lasagna, adds extras such as fries, coffee, or soda, and refines recipes with varying flavor sauces like curry, chocolate, spice or blueberry to customer orders. As in previous games, the ingredients are spread over different conveyor belts, and you can only reach the first in a row of each belt. Those ingredients include buns, patties, salad, and others, and you have to pick them up in the right order to fulfill a customer’s demand.
In the beginning this principle is rather simple, because you only have to manage around four different ingredients and will rarely get stuck. Later on however, as soon as burgers, pies and lasagna consist of nine or ten ingredients, with four customers waiting with different orders, the pace can become extremely frantic and one mistake can quickly result in restarting the level immediately. In Stand O’ Food 3 customers not only leave the shop when they get too impatient, but the player can also literally get stuck. If a base ingredient cannot be reached anymore and all plates are occupied there can be situations where you cannot fulfill any orders.
The controls of Stand O’ Food are pretty much flawless, which is even more important in a game where each wrong click can result in a disaster. There is a back arrow which you can click that allows you to cancel your previous actions, the same can be done by right clicking, and most clicks are registered correctly. The only problems arise when you right-click a few times by accident. This can seriously mess up your plans and pace, which would not be that much of problem in other games, but is a really frustrating aspect here.
Fortunately Stand O’ Food 3 is more accessible and polished than the first parts of the series, especially due to the cute storyline between Ronnie and Nikki, as well as the graphics that are very similar to Supermarket Mania 2. There are a lot of upgrades to purchase, and the addition of side dishes and sauces really works quite well. Luckily enough the order of any customer is displayed in a thought bubble, which also tells you what kind of sauces work best with that recipe.
The only real downside of Stand O’ Food 3 concerns the core gameplay, a problem that could only be solved by a complete rehash of the game itself. Despite shallow differences between sauces and ingredients, each restaurant type plays the same, and this gets repetitive when you have finished around 15 of 25 restaurants. It also gets annoying that you have to refill side dishes and sauces regularly in the beginning, while you won’t even have the time to serve them later on. Last but not least the game is really hard and unforgiving – if you clear the wrong conveyor belts early on you might find yourself missing one ingredient that will prevent you from serving anything, and there is no way to avoid this for certain.
Altogether Stand O’ Food 3 is definitely a worthy sequel and notably improves the formula of its predecessors. Out of its niche genre, a combination of time management and puzzle game, it is definitely one of the better contenders currently available, so fans of this series or this type of game in general will surely enjoy this title. However, keep in mind our points of criticism – if you feel already bored after the trial or get frustrated when you have to restart levels just because of one small mistake, you might prefer to wait for a more casual game.