I preface this review with a confession. I don’t cook. (Okay, maybe a little, but not really.) That being said, I love playing Cake Mania. Luckily, no actual cooking knowledge is required.
You begin the game with one oven and one frosting station. You can upgrade the processing speed of each station and you can purchase additional stations – up to three of each.
The oven can bake four different shapes in any particular season. They aren’t always the same four shapes. Some seasons get special cake shapes, like trees in December or hearts in February. There are four frosting colors available at the frosting station. You can upgrade frosting stations and ovens for speed also.
You can add up to two decorating stations. Each station can be upgrade to four different decorating options, and then you get to start upgrading for speed.
As you bake, sometimes you’re going to make mistakes. You might put the wrong color on the wrong cake or the wrong decoration on the right cake. You can throw it in the trash, but that will cost you. This brings us to the other miscellaneous upgrade – a cake display for the center of your shop. Put your mistake on the display, cross your overworked fingers, and hope someone comes in that wants to buy it – because if someone doesn’t, the cost of the cake plus decorations is going to come out of your bottom line.
The game is broken down into months. Equipment (and footwear) upgrades can happen at the end of each month. You mouse around the screen to see what’s available, then compare to the amount of cash you have to spend. As in the real world, there’s always less cash to spend than there is things to spend it on. Once you’re satisfied with your improvements, you continue to the next month. Upgrade your shoes when you get the chance, because at later levels you’re going to need that extra speed.
The premise is simple enough. Greet your customer. Take their order. Bake the cake in the shape they want. Frost it in the color they want. Add the decoration they want. Deliver the finished cake. Take their money. Easy, right? Not so fast there, Alton.
Depending on your month and shop, you can have generally up to four customers in line at a time. Their personalities vary – from relaxed delivery guys to the typical ‘Type A’ business guy. And don’t get me started about that cranky Easter bunny. Maybe his ears are on too tight or pink just isn’t his color – who knows? It’s very important to keep your customers happy while they’re waiting for you to finish. Happy customers leave bigger tips. Unhappy customers storm out and you get nothing – plus you’re out the cost of the cake you just made. Keep that TV turned on and stuff ‘em happy with free cupcakes is my policy.
On a typical day in the shop, once I’ve purchased my TV, I turn that on first. It automatically lifts the mood of the customers. If it’s a holiday month, it can be worth the gamble of starting a seasonal cake shape, even before you have your first order. Once I hit the beachfront shop, it really did become a blur. Greet the customer. Turn that TV back on. Start the cake. Talk to the next customer. Frost the first cake. Start decorating. Serve cupcakes. Turn that darn TV back on. Greet a few more people. Pass out more cupcakes. Give that cake to the customer. Grab the next cake. Collect that money off the counter. If you don’t grab the money, the next customer can’t come in. Oops, wrong color. Put it on the display. Oh no, bridezilla. Better hustle! What is it with that TV? I swear it hates me. Wait for that special ‘ding’ that you made your quote. Finish up the last few customers once the shop is closed. You hope desperately at this point that any mistakes don’t drop you below the minimum for the month. In this game it’s four strikes (months below quota) and you’re another failed small business owner. I can only hope the end game includes a wild celebration and cake-based food fight, but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t made it there yet.
At the point where I experience my last failure, my nerves are jumpy, my mouse arm is tired, and I can’t wait to start over again. I’m planning to have my daughter try it next. I’d like to see how she does with the multitasking, shapes and colors. I’m not sure how much success she’ll have, but I bet she’ll have fun. For now, it’s still my turn! All those yummy cakes with no calories and no cleanup. Heaven!