|2011-05-23||PC||Time Management||E (Everyone)||G5 Entertainment|
In Stand O'Food you play as Ronnie, an aspiring fast-food chain manager who attempts to successfully run a series of burger joints, lasagna restaurants and pie bakeries. Each of the 25 available venues offers three or four levels to complete, in one of three difficulties that can make the gameplay much more challenging depending on your familiarity with time-management games.
The basics of the gameplay require only simple point and click mechanics and much attention to detail. Your restaurants are composed of several conveyor belts with ingredients which are never in the right order, so you must hop around picking up the right pieces in the right order to assemble the food item required by the next customer in line. It's similar to Cake Mania in this aspect, where customers will enter the store and place a specific order, and sometimes ask for extra items in the process.
Extras come in the form of various sauces (ketchup, mustard, chocolate, whipped cream and so on), which can be placed in between layers. Sauces must be purchased or refilled before a level starts and will definitely complicate things as you try to get everything in the right order. Customers will also request other fast-food products such as fries, soda, coffee or ice cream. Of course, their patience is limited, so make them wait too long and they will get mad and walk out.
Extras are the best way to make money so that you can buy upgrades for the store, for example, machines that hold more soda, air conditioner, plants and a jukebox to keep people happy while waiting, or a useful crane that lets you pick whatever from the conveyor belts regardless of how far back the ingredient is.
In the first levels, the pace is quite nice and it's easy enough to layer your items and complete the orders. Later on, items will require several layers to assemble and everything becomes a lot more hectic. A single wrong click can cause complete chaos and make you lose the stage. Fortunately, there is this handy "undo" button that lets you put back whatever you picked up last, and there are plates on the counter where you can store items that you don't need right away. There is also a garbage bin where you can toss whatever you can't use, although that will cost money.
Sometimes you will have different stages that break the pace a little. Some of them will show images of what you can make, and your customers will accept any of those items without having to request them, so assemble whatever is faster and serve as many customers as possible. Another particular stage has different conveyors lined up with counters, where customers will come up to and wait for you to slide a plate down. Sometimes, one of them will slide an empty plate back up at you, and you MUST catch it. Break enough plates and the stage ends.
As it's already usual in this type of games, we have a comic-book presenting the story, and I actually liked seeing how Ronnie interacts with Nikki, the protagonist of Supermarket Mania (another G5 time-management game).
My main cause of frustration was trying to see the sauce icons in the customer's thought bubbles. Some of them are easy to confuse with one another (hot sauce and ketchup for example), mayonnaise was hard to distinguish, but the most confusing situation of all is when everyone starts piling up in the queue and the thought bubbles start covering others and you won't be able to see the icons anymore. In these cases, it's best to just assemble whatever dish without the extras, since you won't have the time to add them in. Unfortunately, you won't be making a lot of extra cash to purchase upgrades.
Like in Supermarket Mania, there is also an extensive list of achievements for various goals, but without any effect in the gameplay, just as a collectible kind of feature for the completist gamer.
Overall, Stand O'Food 3 delivers a better time-management experience than its predecessors, but this increasingly complex food serving experience may just be repetitive enough that you might not be back for a second helping.