This review would have been up on the site much earlier if I’d managed to tear myself away from the game long enough to write it! Overnight I’ve become a hot and cold sandwich making machine; I can tell you exactly what fillings Tabasco goes best with (everything!) and I don’t like to brag but I probably make the best Cheesland Fish sandwich in the universe!
Such is the addictive quality of Stand O’ Food, which is already a big hit on PC and iPhone and now making a very smooth transition to the PSP. It follows the standard rules of most food service games – you make sandwiches for customers as quickly as possible and try to turn a profit so that you can buy more items to keep your customers happy and make even more money!
There are two game modes – Meal Quest and Lunch Rush. In Meal Quest, you have a vast city area where you get to serve food in each restaurant in turn. For the most part you don’t have a choice which restaurant you visit next, although the path does branch out a little much later in the game.
Each day in this mode you have a certain number of customers to serve. The day ends when all the customers have been accounted for, either because you’ve served them their food or because they’ve got fed up with waiting and left in a huff!
At the end of the day you get to see your accounts, and if you’ve finished the day at a loss because too many customers have left, then you’ll have to replay that day all over again.
After you’ve viewed your daily accounts you can visit the supermarket and splurge your profits on upgrades such as sauces for your sandwiches, a jukebox or fan to placate your waiting customers, or a coffee machine to make you work faster.
Two items well worth spending money on are extra plates (you can have up to five) and paper boxes. The paper boxes enable you to serve the ingredients in any order, so it’s always good to keep a few on the counter to get you out of a pickle.
Sometimes you’ll serve customers carrying special briefcases which bestow bonuses such as a very handy crane, which enables you to get food from any part of the conveyer belt rather than taking it from the end. I found the directional buttons a little fiddly to use when trying to move the crane around quickly though – the only instance where I thought that the iPhone version’s finger-pointing method would have been preferable to using buttons.
What’s really fun about Meal Quest mode is all the different types of food that you get to serve at the various restaurants. Although the restaurants all look the same inside, you’ll find that different restaurants specialize in different types of sandwiches, so one day you’ll be serving lots of breakfasts, whereas the next day you’ll be dishing up salad sandwiches all day.
Lunch Rush is much more of a standalone mode, although the gameplay is virtually identical to Meal Quest, except that you stay in the same restaurant all the time and the food never runs out. You can still buy upgrades at the supermarket, and you still get to use the crane from time to time, although only for a few minutes each goes.
The actual gameplay is very basic but such fun. When customers come into the diner a thought bubble indicates what sandwich they want, and you have to prepare it from the ingredients at the end of several conveyer belts. Unless you have the crane bonus, you can only take the ingredients from the end of the belt.
Where the planning comes in is in the order in which you take the ingredients – you have to think ahead to see what ingredient you might need next and how you can get to it.
This is where the extra plates are handy as you can dump ingredients on them in order to reach what you need next on the belt. You don’t have to serve people in order, but the customer who has been queuing up the longest is more likely to get angry and leave if you keep them waiting too long.
The overall presentation is just so bright and entertaining, especially the cute little angry people who remind me of little Sims or Theme Park visitors. The silly sound effects are so funny, especially when your customers yell ‘hello’ or get mad and leave. Likewise, their little red faces when they get impatient.
Stand O’ Food is a truly addictive game, but will it hold your interest past the first few days or so? Once you’ve cleared all the available restaurants will you still keep going back for another helping? Possibly not, but there’s a good few weeks of entertainment there to be getting on with, and I’m sure this is one I’ll be picking up and playing many weeks from now.