iPhone users have had an ongoing romance with time-management games since the beginning, but most of them are just one rehashed copy after another of Flo’s massive Diner Dash empire. Occasionally a new one comes along with a cute gimmick or flashy style, like Star Wars Cantina, but like any relationship, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. So how do you bring the spark back? Simple. Add a little alcohol to the mix. By introducing the complexity of cocktail mixing, BarStar takes an otherwise standard time-management game and makes it more interesting.
Dynamic sibling duo Chase and Artie are on a mission to transform their tattered and ramshackle watering hole into a posh establishment of booze-filled beauty. As in most time-management games, they have to start from the bottom and work their way up.
Drink orders are simple initially. Artie is pulling pints and pouring wine while Chase examines ids and serves, but as the bar becomes more successful, customers begin requesting more complicated drinks. Chase must keep track of multiple orders, while Artie is left furiously mixing drinks. Even a relatively simple drink, like a rum and coke, requires several steps more than just pouring a beer.
As in a real bar, tips are everything, and the faster and more accurate the service, the better the tip. The controls are a touch fiddly and slightly more complicated than the normal round of frantic tapping, as you must frequently tap, hold, and swipe to execute various actions. The controls aren’t difficult to master, but they do require a bit more thought than your normal run-of-the-mill time-management game.
As you progress through the game, you can also purchase upgrades to improve the bar and your servers, everything from a dedicated bouncer to check ids at the door to magic potions that make Chase and Artie move faster. The upgrade system is actually very comprehensive and nicely executed. It’s one of the better features of the game, and it does a lot to keep the game interesting.
One of the less fortunate features is the ludicrously awful dialogue. It sounds like someone’s maiden aunt trying to imitate the way teenagers speak by throwing in every hip and trendy phrase she’s heard on TV. “Sick”, “bromance”, “boyz”, the list goes on and on, and it gets worse every time. There are also technical glitches sprinkled here and there, but nothing nearly so bad as the writing.
All in all, it’s a very solid and attractive time-management game that delivers a little more than the norm. It likely won’t win over any converts from avowed time-management haters, but it will more than satisfy genre fans who are looking for something other than Diner Dash.
Here is a video demo of the BarStar app on the iPhone
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