As if playing addicting games on Facebook wasn't enough (I'm not ashamed to admit I drank the Farmville Kool-Aid), a new vitirual drug has managed to occupy my time. A TeamLava LLC android/iPhone application, Restaurant Story is somewhat similar to Facebook's Cafe World. You design and run your own restauraunt, but unlike Diner Dash you're not required to be the hostess, waiter or busboy. You're simply required to choose the food you will serve.
You begin the game cooking on a stove, limiting the number of foods you can cook. As the game progresses you gain access to an oven and grill, allowing more variety in the cuisine available to you. The game runs on real time with your cooking time being measured in actual hours. For example, macaroni and cheese takes twelve hours to finish cooking. So throughout your busy day, your macaroni and cheese is simmering in its' virtual pot. In reality it only takes me a few minutes to make mac and cheese, but I digress. Food will spoil when it's not served in a timely fashion. The amount of time it takes the food to cook is the same amount of time it takes to serve the food before it spoils.
The game appears to be using times frames to convey difficulty levels for different items. The time it takes to cook a dish varies. While french toast can take one minute, pizze can take a whole day. The longer an item takes, you gain more experience, money, and servings for your customers.
Located at the top of your screen is your customer satisfaction level. It reads 100 when you're customers are fully satisfied, but it drops down as more customers become unhappy. Having enough seating and food to accomodate your customers is key to keeping your customer satisfcation level up.
YOU GIMME MY MAC N’ CHEESE!
The interior of your restaurant is a key element of the game and how you arrange it is entirely up to you. You'll need to decided how many tables and chairs you'll have and where they'll be placed. You'll also need a spot for your cooking appliances and counters for when the food is done cooking. Once you've figured out your essentials, you can fill the remaining space with decorations. All those items can be purchased from the design area.
In order to purchase items and expand your restaurant, you'll need to make money. The more food you have available, the more money you'll be able to make. You can also use green gems to pay for items or to replenish spoiled food.
There's a large social aspect to the game. You can visit the restaurants of other players to check out their tables, designs, or what they've got cooking. You can also write a message on their wall and even leave them tips. For every tip you receive, you get twenty dollars deposited into your restaurant's bank account. There's a newsfeed which allows you to see who's left tips at your restaurant, so that you can return the favor if you're inclined to. For every tip you give someone, you receive star points and your star level increases. Depending on how often you tip other players, your star level will range from 0 to 4. So far, I have not seen any advantage or disadvantage to the having a high or low star level. I believe it's just a measure of how often someone tips. It may just be an indicator of wether or not you want that person as a neighbor.
In order to access the game's social features, you need to sign up for a storm8 id. This is how people you know, or people you find playing the game, can add you as a neighbor. They can't add you by the name of your restaurant. Once someone is your neighbor, you can send each other gifts and leave extra tips. Some functions like expanding your restaurant may require you to have a certain amount of neighbors
Most of what I don not like about the game is a result of playing it on an android phone as opposed to the iPhone. On the android, you currently don't have the option to change the wallpaper or the floor tiles. It didn't bother me for the first few levels, but once I reached a level where I could expand, I was frustrated to be stuck with bare concrete looking walls and floors. I also had issues with the game freezing every so often. It doesn't happen enough for me to give up on the game, but it can be rather annoying.
I really liked that the game can take up 15 minutes or 15 seconds. You get to decide how much time you dedicate to it. If I found myself with a substantial amount of time, I would cook a lot of items that had a quick cook time. If I was unable to check in on the game for awhile, I would select items that had longer cook time. That way when I time to check again, the food was about ready. Since it took longer, the money and experience gained would be more substantial. When I wouldn't be able to check on the game, I still needed to make sure the food was out on the counters for the customers. I believe the game play resumes even when you're not watching. If I left my restaurant without food for awhile. the customer satisfaction level would drop substantially.
The game is addicting, which is both good and bad. With many options on what to cook and more being unlocked as you level up, it keeps the game interesting. For such a simple and straight forward game, it has linked social networking with addicting gameplay I've yet to be bored with. Plus, it brings it all to my fingertips. No matter if I'm waiting on line, stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, or just plain bored, I always have some alloted minutes a day to spend playing. As of right now, Restaurant Story is cooking up a lot of fun on my droid, so check it out in the android market!
Keep in mind, there are children starving in virtual Ethiopia.