Continuing their crusade to brainwash you into joining the restaurant industry, Flipline Studios serves up another tasty simulation in the Papa's games with Papa's Cupcakeria. Instead of being forced to run the new business because Papa is a lazy jerk, this time you're working off a debt. As if making cupcakes to order fast food style weren't inherently hilarious and difficult enough, in addition to cranky customers, batters, frosting and more, you've also got the changing seasons to contend with... and the holidays they bring!
Like all Papa's games, Cupcakeria has a multi-stage process to literally filling a customer's cake-hole. You take down their order, select their cupcake paper and fill it with the appropriate batter (not too much or too little!), bake it until ready, and then decorate it to their exacting specifications. You're scored on how well you perform at each task, which influences both your tip and whether you receive a ticket to play mini-games with. Mini-games, of which there are several, can win you prizes and cash, and money is important since it can be spent on decorations and things to make your bakery function faster and more smoothly. During holiday seasons, make sure to decorate your shop accordingly, as well as make the most of seasonal ingredients. Hey, it works for Starbucks. Get all up in that PUMPKIN EVERYTHING fever action.
Like its predecessors, Cupcakeria is all about the grind, but in the best possible way, and this latest installment offers some minor tweaks that make it a lot more bearable. Customers will now rattle off their order faster, for instance, which is a blessing for the impatient among us who felt our eyes glaze over during the process before. It helps make up for the slow pace as you unlock different ingredients and the difficulty ramps up, though the hardest thing in the game might be mastering that frosting swirl. The seasons and holidays don't have a huge impact on gameplay, but the variation of ingredients and aesthetic changes help to break things up the longer you play, and are a great touch. Having run a bakery for years, I'll tell you that the most realistic part of this game is customers demanding perfect symmetry for their cherries, but you don't play these games for the realism, and Papa's Cupcakeria has fun in spades. I admit, I was hoping for more of an actual storyline this time around considering the debt payoff setup, even if it was just a Tom Nook style racket, but Papa's Cupcakeria is another great installment in a series that keeps improving as it goes, and will keep fans locked behind that counter for a long, long time.