What am I, a ninja? When the powers that be assigned this review, they must have thought so. And, hey, whipping up two sundaes and a salad in the ten seconds it took to bake a pizza and fry a steak is something a ninja can do, right? That, and a short-order cook. But short-order cooks rarely enter the realms of five-star restaurants, which is exactly where you are trying to go in Gamedino's time-management cooking simulation game, Family Restaurant.
Based on a popular flash game, Family Restaurant is the very familiar "assembly line" type of puzzle experience. Create the ordered dish as closely to the desired specification and as fast as possible: grab ingredients from the side and arrange them over the dish as required. It might include some baking or frying. It will involve much shouting and gnashing of teeth. Not only do you have a time limit for each dish, but orders flood in and can quickly stack up. Since not every order takes the same amount of time to make, you are soon swooping through your different dishes, doing a bit here and there... a habit you quickly learn when juggling the ever-growing menu of your establishment. The aim is to beat the day's earning target: better meals mean tips, but failures cost you money.
Why are you subjugating yourself to this relentless vocation? Family Restaurant has a story mode, which explains that you are doing all of this for stars; the prime being five star, with a final level after that for a total of thirty five levels. It harkens a little to the insanity that is a Michelin Star; a coveted restaurant thumbs-up that means you get to charge more for all the rich gluttons you attract. Michelin Stars have to be earned every single time, so if you slip up you forfeit your star. Family Restaurant is not quite as mean, so failure doesn't send you back a step (cutely traced by a trial of eggs), but maybe that's why this game won't leave you in the leagues of Gordon Ramsay. For one, this is a family business, you know. We keep it clean.
Well, the restaurant keeps it clean, but I hardly did. Screw up just a little and orders quickly get out of hand, eventually resulting in an eruption of flaying hands and words that even Gordon would have cocked an eyebrow at. But instead of being a sane individual and finding something lower octane to do, you jump right back into it. After all, who is going to let a salad get in the way of another star? Speaking of which, why can we go up in stars, but we don't hire some more help around here? And tell that waiter to pace things a little. I'm not a robot octopus!
Analysis: There is something abut these pattern recognition and repetition games that seems to excite the synapses. It's not a given thing with assembly games; many of us have run into this type of task as a mini-game inside some adventure romp and often they were more annoying than exciting (though even the mundane ones manage to be endearing). But Family Restaurant cracks it well enough. It would be nice to actually see what an order is, instead of needing to click on one, because by the time you approach the second star (you start off as a single star establishment) things get notably harder. Once you transcend past the third star this game will make you work for your points and near the end you simply don't make mistakes. The crown on all of this is Endless Mode;already available from the start, but a true crucible if you want to test your assembly skills. A single mistake costs you the game and there are three difficulty settings to test your mettle on
In light of this, the art and theme of the game almost does Family Restaurant a disservice. It looks great, no doubt, but the cutesy graphics are deceptively hiding a game that makes some serious dexterity demands. Like I said: ninjas or short-order cooks. Most likely short-order ninjas. The learning curve isn't steep, but you will scoop together a Dame Blanche without even peeking long before you hit the four and five star circuit.
If the idea of assembling food on a plate at high speed and surgical precision doesn't have you salivating, skip this local eatery. Anyone else who likes a good challenge in this genre will find Family Restaurant a rare treat.
Download the demo Get the full version
Mac OS X:
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.
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Family Restaurant Strategy Guide
Check your queue. Steaks and Pizzas require time in pans and ovens, so do these when you see them.
Remember that well-done meat, especially pork, has a long second fry period. You can get two dishes done during a pork fry-up. Always check your three latest orders for a fry or grill option - these are quick to set up and buy you some time to work with more complex dishes.
You will often get the chance to design a dish, like a pizza or ice cream. These have minimum requirements (for example, it must have three different ingredients and a certain percentage of sauce). The more original your creation, the bigger the potential tip from the customer. But you are better off keeping it simple, because these dishes will sit with you for the rest of the game and your fancy gourmet miracle won't seem so genius when you find it at the front of a busy food queue.
If you switch to a different dish while you are using an ingredient, you will need to reselect that ingredient when you switch back. You can, though, grab the next ingredient on the list if you are done with the previous.
Sauces must be closed before moving on. Be careful when switching between dishes to first close the sauce you are using. Otherwise you will have to re-click on the sauce when switching back, which can interfere with your rhythm.
Work on your accuracy and learn the dishes. Being able to place ingredients without looking at the reference plate will make you more accurate - and accuracy is vital to crack the later stages of the game.
Every time you finish a dish, a results screen will pop up, showing you how you fared with accuracy and speed. When this screen appears, the game pauses, so you can take mini breathers here.
Ice Cream dishes are the easiest and fastest to make, so focus on them if you need to clear the orders quickly. For example, if you have a few seconds left on a fry or bake, you can squeeze some ice-cream dishes into that space of time. One thing to watch out for: ice creams can start using multiple sauces, as well as streak sauces in designs, like a heart.
Salads are simple and quick, but can be tricky and you can easily ruin them if you get the order wrong. Salads are great, though, to do bit-by-bit while you jump between other dishes. But be careful. Salads can become quite complicated and managing the inevitable salad dressing application can mess you around if you are jumping between dishes. The application of the dressing always takes the longest on a salad.
Deep fries (french fries/chips,chicken) are very easy: simply dump them in the hot oil. But mind the slider - it takes a bit more time than pushing a button, so move back to the deep fry dish a second earlier than you would for frying/baking. Also, deep fries are fast, so keep an eye on them.
Pizzas take 10 seconds to bake. You don't have to be extremely accurate with the base sauce and generally ingredients are bigger than seen with salads, so you can be a bit messier. More important is to not let the pizza overbake, but watch out for under-baking - this will be an automatic failure
There are several meats that will come up for frying and, depending on the meat, frying times differ. This also varies with orders of rare to well done. All frying involves flipping the meat - and well done/pork meats are great, because they can fry for up to 10 seconds a side. That's enough to get smaller dishes out of the way. The setup is also very easy: just splash oil down and drop the meat on. But avoid going over time and never go under time (like pizza an immediate failure). Also be careful: sometimes the second fry stage of a dish is very short.
You can also grill meat. These are extremely easy, needing less preparation than frying, using just simple clicks (unlike deep frying's slider). Just don't overcook.
Thanks, James, for the guide!
Posted by: Mike | November 30, 2010 3:13 PM