The genre of casual resource management games is a true hit or miss genre that either appeals to you or it doesn't. If it does, then you are one of the people who has contributed to the wild success of Diner Dash, Cake Mania, and the like. And if it doesn't... this may be the game to change your mind.
Papa's Pizzeria, by Flipline Studios in Ohio, is more than your average resource management game. While a typical entry in the vein of Diner Dash would require little more than clicking on various hot spots to make and deliver the food to customers, Papa's Pizzeria gives it a more personal touch. Rather than clicking on an order and then on a station for topping the pizza, only to watch the pizza top itself, you must actually top the pizza yourself.
The basics of the gameplay are simple: Just swap through four stations, each an important part of the pizza-making process.
- The Order Station: This is where you will take orders from when a customer approaches the counter.
- The Topping Station: Once you have an order (or two, or three) queued up, this is where you will go to prepare the pizza. Topping is easy--simply drag and drop various toppings onto the pizza, according to the customer's specifications. Here's where some tricky bits come in--the customer not only decides what toppings he wants, but also where they should be put. For the best pizza, the toppings will need to be roughly evenly distributed around the area of the pizza he wants the toppings on.
- The Baking station: Once you finish working on the toppings, you can send your pizza directly to the ovens, where it will cook. It's up to you to take the pizza out when it's been baking for the right amount of time.
- The Cutting Station: After taking the pizza out of the oven, it's sent straight here. By drawing lines from end to end of the pizza, you cut it into pieces, according to how the customer ordered it to be cut. Then, when you are satisfied, you can finish the pizza, sending it out to the customer.
Your performance at each of these stations directly determines what score--or rather, how much tip money--the customer awards you when you pass the pizza along to him.
There is also a major element of time management present in this game. From the moment you take the pizza off the oven, you will be virtually locked into cutting it and serving it--which takes time. Perhaps too much time, if any of the other pizzas in the oven are ready to come out.
To help balance the amount of time it takes to serve the pizza and the amount of time it takes to stick the pizzas in the ovens, after topping a pizza, you get the option of saving it for later--very useful for when you finish a pizza but can't put it on the oven yet due to bad timing.
Analysis: What makes this game stand out from Diner Dash, Cake Mania, Miss Management, and the other notables of the genre is the presence of skill-based challenges. Not only does your skill at handling the various stations affect your tip--it also determines how quickly you can get done with the pizza itself.
The presence of these skill-based challenges really fleshes out the game beyond a simple challenge of what to click and when. That, combined with the excellent graphics and pleasant (if repetitive) music makes this an excellent game, both for the resource-management buffs and those of us casual gamers just out for a good time.