Cake Mania 2
Jill's back in a sequel to one of the most popular casual games of last year, Cake Mania, by Sandlot Games. In Cake Mania 2 you reprise the role of the baker extraordinaire with the task of helping one of two friends: Jack, who is looking for a bakery in his underwater theme park, or Risha and her bakery in the big city. Serve cranky customers piping hot cakes as quickly as you can to rake in the cash and expand your business!
Cake Mania 2 plays out like most resource management games where you must prioritize tasks and work as quickly as you can to make it through each stage. Customers walk in your bakery and your first job is to hand them a menu. When they make their selection the cake appears in a bubble showing the cake style, icing and decorations each person requires. Once that appears, it's time for you to hop to it. Bake the right shaped cake, ice it, decorate it and serve it to the customer as quickly as you can to maximize your income.
One of the best parts of Cake Mania — the quirky customers — has been expanded in Cake Mania 2. Between men in penguin suits, businessmen, lawyers, punk rockers and little kids, there's no shortage of colorful characters to keep a grin on your face. Many customer types have their own unique needs that must be tended to, such as impatient kids or busy doctors. This adds a little spice to the game and breaks apart the linearity of focusing on customers at the front of the line first.
Between rounds you can upgrade your bakery by purchasing additional ovens, icing stations and other niceties to help keep things running smoothly. You can also buy items to help keep customers happy, such as a TV or cookie oven, or get Jill a better pair of shoes so she can move faster. How you spend your dough is up to you and is a unique part of each player's strategy.
The main game in Cake Mania 2 has over 200 levels, plus an additional "endless" mode where you serve cakes to a non-stop barrage of customers until the cows come home. Plenty of cake baking action to keep you busy for a very long time.
Analysis: There's no shortage of casual resource management games, but Cake Mania has always stood out as one of the better titles around. The news of Cake Mania 2 is definitely exciting, but I can't help but feel a bit let down by the lack of new features in the sequel. The visuals have improved and the locations are new, but other than those cosmetic changes it's essentially the same game as before. It would have been a treat to see at least one new gameplay element.
On the other hand, when you've got something right, why risk ruining it? Cake Mania 2 doesn't mess with an already winning formula. In this case, more of the same is the icing on the cake.