Review: Order Up!

Nathan Meunier | 28 Aug 2008 16:55
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In the kitchen, my culinary abilities have always been a little lacking. Creating tasty dishes in the virtual realm holds more appeal; evidently, my cooking skills reign supreme when a controller is involved. Cooking titles are still an emerging genre on the console and handheld gaming market, but they ingeniously give non-chefs a taste of what it's like to create something more than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or microwave pizza. While Cooking Mama established a solid baseline for videogame food crafting, Order Up! for the Wii kicks things up a notch.

Rather than focusing solely on completing recipes to methodical perfection via a series of food prep minigames, Order Up! has you running your own restaurant and dealing with the chaos that comes along with such an endeavor. You'll have to manage tables, cook multiple meals simultaneously, deal with staff, dole out assorted tasks, earn money to improve your greasy dive, and try to impress the local food critic, all while contending with a steady influx of unusual patrons looking for some good eats. Firing off meals for customers in a bustling kitchen with incoming orders and other problems - such as unannounced visits from the health inspector, kitchen fires, and rat infestations - makes for some exciting cooking action.

Order Up! is executed with a delightfully goofy sense of humor that pervades the entire game, accentuated by a quirky, cartoonish visual style. After selecting a chef, you're unceremoniously ejected from an airplane to crash-land on the island of Port Abello, where you'll have a crack at working your way up the ranks of restaurant fame. The tutorial alone is worth a few laughs and sets the tone nicely; it's delivered by a pimply, squeaky-voiced employee at Burger Face who shows you the basics of grilling meat and making fries. You'll soon set out on your own by purchasing a greasy spoon, named Gravy Chug, located just down the street- the first of four restaurants in the game.

Once you're at the kitchen helm of your first dive - grimy and disgusting as it may appear - the gameplay kicks into action as customers trickle in and the waitress takes their orders.. Your job is to scrutinize the recipe for a particular order and start prepping the different components for the dish by dragging an item from the list and dropping it on the appropriate station, which triggers an ingredient-specific minigame (such as chopping, grating, breading, and frying, to name a few). Completing these tasks with accuracy and proper timing will yield delicious food and keep customers happy. After all of the different elements have been prepped, the completed dish will go up on the counter with a temperature timer that slowly ticks down until the rest of the table's dishes are finished and they're sent out. It's strangely satisfying to ring the little bell to send the food out to the dining area; you'll get feedback from customers, before they violently shovel the food into their nasty gullets.

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