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Order Up!

In a gaming world filled with next generation (next-gen) gallantry and bravado, where can one find a suitable casual game that isn't targeted strictly to minors? Publisher Zoo Games, think they may have the answer with their upcoming release of "Order Up", an original IP for the Nintendo Wii. Developed by SuperVillain Studios, "Order Up" appears to be your typical "cooking-mama" type game. However, one major separation is the integration of a relevant story line adding further purpose and meaning to the game.

If you've ever watched an episode of "Iron Chef" or "Hell's Kitchen", then imagine that experience in the palm of your hands. The Wii Remote is your multipurpose utensil used for flipping, stirring, dicing, slicing, etc. Though graphically speaking, this game isn't going to leave you breathless; Order Up's objective is to engage the player in a fun chef-like experience that will garner the appreciation of both the hard core and casual gamer; therefore the character graphic style is very much like a Mr. Potato-Head and Wii Sports combined. With that in mind, the gameplay itself offers more than just simply flipping burgers and dicing onions.

As a new chef in the world of Port Abello, you are charged with the task of rising in the ranks of the culinary world. You do that by mastering several different types of recipes, and improving the status of your restaurants. You'll have to appease rowdy customers, fight off rodents and fires, as well as keep food critics happy in order to accomplish that goal. Like any food joint, tips are always welcomed and the more you get the quicker you can buy things to improve your service. And one sure way to get tips to use a cool feature that "Order Up!" provides. Several customers that will visit your restaurant have certain likes and dislikes when it comes to food preparation. Some clients like spice so if you throw in extra spice to your dish you'll get a nice bonus from that client.

Aside from the customer food preferences, "Order Up!" so far offers nothing that really separates it from the rest of the pack. That said, no good restaurant and head chef is complete unless you've got a few sous-chefs to order around and believe me you'll need them. "Order Up!" really brings you into a 'real world' restaurant kitchen by adding this feature which sets it apart from other games in its genre.

As you advance in the game, sous-chefs can either hinder or provide adequate support. "Order Up!" really went to town on this feature since these assistance chefs all have different strengths. For example if you're in a Mexican restaurant (just one of several different types restaurants in Port Abello), you wouldn't pick a sous-chef whose talented at making dough. In this regard, "Order Up!" is by far a step up from your average cooking type game.

Despite its cartoon like appearance, "Order Up!" takes on a more mature theme in running a restaurant. However simply creating successful restaurants isn't your only objective. There's a "Fortified Chef Competition" which is setup much like "Iron Chef" where you'll get your chance to prove your skills and possibly challenge a former master chef whose identity will be revealed in the game.

Though it's a single player experience, "Order Up!" is every bit a community type game. Having tried this game out a few times, the one thing I realized is you really need someone else to help you keep track of tasks that are remaining. I definitely felt a bit frenzied when, Lee Cummings, creative director of Greenscreen Games kept coaching me through his title reminding that my fries needed flipping and onions needed dicing, all the while remembering that I had something in the oven that needed to be plated as well as informing that my sous-chef has completed his task.

There's a lot to be mindful of in the kitchen, especially in a busy restaurant and "Order Up!" does a nice job of putting that aspect in the game. The controls still need a bit of tweaking though (as we all know pointing with the Wii Remote can be challenging enough), and it will take you a bit to get used to the layout of the kitchen which could hamper your performance as it relates to finishing your dishes in a timely fashion. Also I do wish they added a multiplayer mode where you could go head to head with your friend in a cook-off ala "Iron Chef", but perhaps I'm getting too ahead of myself.

If you're generally interested in this type of gaming genre, then "Order Up!" is a game you should add to your gaming library. It's schedule to be released July 22nd with an anticipated ESRB rating of E (for everyone).

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