Betty Boop's Double Shift
Reviewed by Brandy Shaul
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2007-11-18 Nintendo DS Casual E (Everyone) DSI Games / Black Lantern

I've always been a big fan of games like Cake Mania and Cooking Mama, both games that are very step-by-step oriented. Do step one first, then step two and so on, until you have a finished product. I've found that these types of games can be some of the most addictive you will find, and some of the most difficult on their hardest levels. Even without playing the game, the screenshots are enough to tell us that Betty Boop's Double Shift falls into this category, so of course I just had to give it a shot.

The game, at first glance, looks and plays a lot like Diner Dash. Betty dreams of a life grander than her current position and needs Grampy's help in opening up a bar of her own, so that she can earn enough money to move on to bigger and better things. To get there, you will have to take on the role of Betty through 25 shifts, which you can play continuously with very minor breaks in between.

The gameplay is very straightforward. Each shift has two parts, a waitress opener and a performance closer. As the shift starts, patrons will come into the bar and it's up to Betty to take and fulfill their orders, make sure the band plays music that the patrons will like, and otherwise keep everything running smoothly.

Like most games of this type, each group of patrons has a patience meter, which will slowly run down as they are made to wait longer and longer for their food, refreshments, etc. By giving them what they want, you replenish some of these hearts. On the other hand, if they are made to wait too long, they will eventually get up and leave, taking their money with them.

In the very beginning stages, the difficulty is lacking and you will be able to quickly wrap your head around the touch screen controls. But as you progress in shifts, the patrons will get much more impatient, and much larger in quantity which definitely provides a challenge, even for those who think they have seen and played this all before.

The second part of each shift involves Betty getting on stage and performing. The gameplay here is less complex than in the bar sections, but can be just as challenging towards the end of the 25 shifts. Music notes will be presented on the top screen, and various note choices will rest on the touch screen. As the scroll ball rolls under each note on the top screen, you must tap on the corresponding note to have Betty perform correctly. As the waitress levels get harder, so too do the performing sections, which eventually require lighting fast reflexes to hit the right notes, in the right order, and at the right time.

To help the player out in both aspects of the shift, the touch controls are very forgiving. When hitting notes, it doesn't really matter how far underneath the note the scroll bar is; as long as you hit the appropriate note, it counts. Likewise, when waiting on tables, you can click as many commands as you want, creating a string of future tasks even if Betty is currently helping a patron, so that you never have wasted time between actions.

In terms of extras, the only major one to be found is the multiplayer option, which lets you challenge a nearby friend to either a memory game that takes place in the bar itself, or in a musical game on stage. The only other additions to be found will come in the form of upgrades during your career, which add more tables to the bar, speakers that will keep guests happier while waiting in the line outside, and so on.

Betty Boop's Double shift is filled with a lot of nostalgia, with each of the major characters coming from the original Betty Boop cartoons from so long ago. For instance, Grampy helps you open up the bar in the first place, and Gorilla acts as a bouncer outside. This old-time feeling is carried over into the graphics and the music presented in the game.

The bar itself may have a jazzy outside, with a neon sign and other modern extras, but the inside is decorated like you would expect to find if you traveled back in time. Red curtains hang over either side of the stage, the chairs are covered in tufted fabric of various colors, and with other small additions like the old-style menu ticket turn wheel, the game really looks like it is from a time long past.

Speaking of past trends, when Betty performs, you hear upbeat jazz and ragtime tunes that would have been all the rage during Betty's time. Even the sound effects are realistic, with clanking metal silverware and the moans of angry customers.

Even if the game lacks in extras and is fairly repetitive, there is some fun to be had with Betty Boop's Double Shift. Its gameplay is less complex than others, like Diner Dash, which makes the game better suited towards beginners in the genre, but the increase in difficulty toward the end will keep even the most experienced on their toes. In the end, even though the game is far from perfect, in terms of budget titles that cost twenty bucks, you could do a lot worse than this.

Special thanks to Alison Kain and DSI for providing a copy of this title.