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Order Up!! To Go

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad
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Cooking with gas

Product: Order Up!! To Go | Developer: SuperVillain Studios | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Strategy | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
Order Up!! To Go iPhone, thumbnail 1
In a sense, cooking is just a real-life time-management game.

Anyone who’s ever prepared a complicated meal knows how challenging and how rewarding it can be, and the time-management genre taps into many of the same pleasure centres. Both pursuits reward forward-planning and both require adept multi-tasking if you want to succeed.

So SuperVillain’s decision to set a time-management game in a busy restaurant kitchen makes perfect sense. Once the orders start flying in you’ll have to prioritise carefully and work swiftly if you want to stay on top of your customers' demands.

Curry favour

Diners scurry into your eatery, your helpful waiting staff take their orders, and then you set about making their culinary dreams come true – slicing peppers with downwards strokes of the touchscreen, grating cheese with manic rubbing, and sautéing onions with a casual upward flick of your index finger.

Order Up!! To Go’s cooking is a pleasingly tactile experience throughout, and it’s always a pleasure to frantically dash between the orders that are competing for your attention.

Each stage in a recipe is rated as you work, so you’ll have to cook steaks to perfection, slice vegetables as thinly as you can, and keep those pots from boiling over if you want to serve up ‘Perfect’ dishes.

Customers pay more for perfect plates, and fussy diners offer further money-making opportunities, furnishing you with tidy pocketfuls of change should you indulge their off-menu whims.

If you want the big bucks, you’ll need to flavour dishes according to the individual customers' tastes – by adding pepper to their fries, say, or pouring brown sugar into their burritos.

Waiter waiter, there’s a fly in my soup

But while Order Up!! To Go’s gameplay is tactile, fast-paced, and fun, progression is a long hard slog.

The game’s freemium business model means that lengthy grinds for in-game currency are required for those who don’t want to fork out for unlocks. You’ll have to replay restaurants literally dozens of times, clocking up hours of playtime, to open up new areas.

But the arc of progress is just as broken if you’re prepared to open your wallet, since practically every unlock in the game is available for cash. Your motivation to play well and cater to customer needs fades somewhat when you no longer need their miserly tips to earn your way to novelty.

But the damage dealt by this poorly balanced freemium overlay is mitigated somewhat by the quality of Order Up!! To Go’s gameplay. After all, grinding is less of a problem when you’re enjoying yourself.

But there is a limit. Order Up!! To Go would be a better game if it cost a couple of quid and let you progress at a sensible rate.

Check please

That’s not to say that Order Up!! To Go would be perfect were it not for its payment model. Buying in ingredients at the start of each service is a bit of a lottery, and moments of frustration are provoked by occasional gesture-recognition missteps.

These are really minor flaws, magnified by the constant repetition. Overall, Order Up!! To Go is a jolly, charming time-management game, in which the physical act of dicing an onion is as satisfying as that moment when a complex order comes together perfectly.

App pricing is an increasingly thorny issue, and games like Order Up!! To Go demonstrate how getting the freemium model wrong can seriously undermine an otherwise first-rate experience.

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Order Up!! To Go
Reviewer photo
James Nouch | 3 February 2012
Order Up!! To Go is a charming, tactile, and fun time-management game that’s undermined by a silly freemium structure
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