Amelie's Cafe: Summer Time
After taking over her grandfather's failing cafe and turning it into a thriving business, intrepid barista Amelie returns for more in Amelie's Cafe: Summer Time, a new time management game from Boolat Games. Summer Time trades the bustling city setting of the original for a summer beach motif, but the gameplay is just as enticing.
Amelie has made all her dreams come true in the city, but she's not one to rest on her laurels. Instead, she packs up and moves to the beach, hoping to make it big all over again. Amelie brings three of her loyal employees along, and as her new cafe grows in popularity her staff expands to six. Amelie also starts serving lemonade, candy and iced coffee. Over time, the looks of the cafe change as it's revamped from a modest beach retreat into a chic hangout.
Amelie's Cafe: Summer Time stays true to traditional time management gameplay. When a customer visits the cafe, Amelie takes their order, rushes to deliver that order to the appropriate cook or machine, then brings the order to the customer after it's finished. As the cafe's employees work, their stations become dirty and Amelie must clean them before the employees refuse to continue making refreshments.
Successfully serving customers before they grow impatient and leave earns the cafe money, and completing each level requires a certain amount of money. Getting things done quickly earns Amelie bonus icons that show up at the bottom of the screen; matching three or more identical icons earns Amelie a bonus ranging from cleaning all the employees' work stations to calming impatient customers.
As the game progresses, Amelie earns periodic upgrades to improve her employees' performance as well as various other aspects of the cafe. Each employee can be upgraded to become quicker or cleaner, Amelie's running speed can be improved and the amount of money earned from bonuses can be increased. The cafe's decor can also be upgraded over time, giving the player options to upgrade the looks of the floor, the customers' tables, the counter and the employees' work stations.
The game uses colorful, attractive sprite graphics. It's easy to distinguish different types of customers from one another based on their looks and mixing up which employee does what is never a problem. The cafe itself looks gorgeous as well, especially as the decor is improved.
Analysis:Amelie's Cafe doesn't redefine the time management genre, but it's still an entertaining game with a hefty coat of polish. A key aspect of gameplay is learning the unique personality traits of each customer. Each type of customer has different rates at which they grow impatient along with certain items that they're more likely to order. Students, for instance, tend to prefer ice cream and wraps and will quickly grow impatient if they aren't served. Learning what each customer prefers and how quickly they need to be served before they leave is important in prioritizing Amelie's various tasks.
Each employee also has specific traits that the player would do well to learn. Martin the wrap chef works fast but tends to make a mess so his station often requires cleaning, while Antonio the salad chef is slow but clean so he doesn't require as much attention. Knowing the particulars of each employee is important in deciding which upgrades to take. This can also pose problems - even when upgraded, Antonio still makes salads at a snail's pace, so if many customers are looking for salads at the same time some will be forced to wait.
While Summer Time starts off slowly, the pace gradually ramps up. Eventually the game becomes fairly intense, which could be a problem for players without much experience with time management games. It's necessary to queue up long sequences of actions in order to keep up with a seemingly endless stream of impatient customers, and often Amelie's only saving grace is her stock of customer-calming bonus icons. Continued play always leads to more upgrades which can help the player get through a tough level.
The upgrades themselves are also disappointing, however, since their effects seem fairly minimal. Additionally, while upgrading the cafe's decor is visually interesting, these upgrades have seemingly no effect on the cafe's performance. Choosing between the various decor upgrades seems meaningless, and perhaps giving speed or patience boosts would have made decor seem more significant.
While Amelie's Cafe: Summer Time doesn't bring anything earthshaking to time management, it does the basics well and is a great choice for fans of the genre. Players new to time management games may run into some frustrating roadblocks, but practice and patience will see them through.