There’s something a tad poignant about Cake Mania: Main Street just at the moment. It continues the loose storyline already touched upon by other time management games in the developer’s series, which includes wedding planning and burger joints, and sees us rejoin the main character as she arrives back in her home town.
It seems the destructive pairing of Torys and Lib Dems has paid a whirlwind visit on Bakersfield’s economy, as all the businesses have closed down and the place has turned into a ghost town. It’s a story we’re hearing a lot on the news, and in fact this game offers something of a cartoony solution to the trials a modern business has to face.
You begin your quest for economic revival in the face of political absurdity by doing what Jill (your main character) does best: Baking. As the title of Cake Mania: Main Street suggests, it’s up to you to get the cake shop running fast and smooth, which in turn begins the recovery of the rest of the high street. Or main street.
Customers queue up along the counter in the cake shop with their own ideas for the perfect cake. By selecting the components of the cake in the correct order, you put together the required spongy concoction and serve it up as quickly as possible. The different customers have very different expectations, with some being especially impatient but very generous with their payment should you deliver on time. Other don’t mind hanging around, but are reticent to open their wallets.
Controls are as slick as they’ve always been in these games, and you can get ahead of yourself as your time management skills are refined so you can get the punters through the shop pretty fast. It takes some serious thumb work, but the hectic nature of the gameplay is what makes Cake Mania: Main Street so entertaining.
Most times management games like this would only provide the one premise, so it’s a pleasant surprise to find that once the cake shop gets Bakersville running again, you move onto the next shop to help improve their efficiency. Jack’s Burger Barn, Risha’s Flowers and Tiny’s Sumo Sushi all require your managerial skills as they’re gradually unlocked and the customers begin flooding back in.
Beneath the surface, each shop is essentially the same, but that’s not immediately obvious when playing. The processes are significantly different for arranging a bunch of flowers or putting together a sushi platter, and the rhythms you’ve built up at the cake shop aren’t immediately transferrable.
This adds a lot to Cake Mania: Main Street’s longevity, and almost qualifies as four games in one. It doesn’t quite pull off a time management compendium, but there’s a lot more life here than just the cake shop you start off in. Fans of the genre will enjoy the different challenges each type of shop offers, though experienced players will see through the veneer quite quickly.
Now all we need is to get Jill into the Houses of Parliament to apply her time management prowess to the rest of the country’s high streets.