By Eric Pankoke on Sat, 08/15/2009
If you’re familiar with Cake Mania, your first impression of Turbo Subs is going to be “isn’t this Cake Mania in a sub shop?” In some ways it feels like it, though as far as I’m concerned that’s merely a testament of how well the Cake Mania format of game play works. Turbo Subs has its own atmosphere, its own set of challenges, and its own rewards. Best of all, it’s just as fun as Cake Mania. Game play can get quite frantic, but in the end it’s all worth it and the game is a delight to play.
Turbo Subs is a time management game. Each “level” is a day, and you start the day with two target amount of money: one earns you the right to pass the level, and the other makes you an expert on that level. To earn the money you must keep the customers happy, and that means serving them whatever they want to order. At first the menu is basically subs, but it quickly grows to include soda, chips, cookies and cotton candy! When a customer walks in they’ll come up to the counter and a bubble with a question mark will appear in front of them. Click the bubble to give them a menu, then give them a couple of seconds to decide what they want to order. Their order will eventually appear in a bubble in front of them as well.
To get the items they’ve ordered, simply click the appropriate location around the sub shop. Some items are instant grabs, like a bag of chips or a soda. Other items, like coffee, cotton candy and subs, have to be prepared first. While you’re waiting for items to be prepared, see if there is anything else you can do, like wait on another customer or collect tips. This is a game where the customers don’t want to wait, so multi-tasking is good. Once you’ve got the item a customer has requested, click the customer’s order bubble to deliver the item. When you pick up an item, the bubble that belongs to any customer that wants that item will start flashing green. If no bubbles are flashing green, it means you’ve either grabbed the wrong item or the customer who ordered it left.
If a customer walks away, you lose 100 points. Your tips are also based on how long they have to wait, so the shorter amount of time the better. There’s a little meter next to each customer showing their current satisfaction level, so even though there’s so much going on already you’re going to want to pay attention to that. You may even need to serve newer customers before older ones due to their patience level. One cool feature Turbo Subs has over many other time management games is that you don’t lose any money for wasted supplies, so keep foods that require preparation on tap if possible. When the customers want them service will be quicker, and when they don’t you just toss them and try again. I also like the upgrade system in Turbo Subs. A lot of these games (for instance, Cake Mania) require you to buy just about everything. In Turbo Subs, the basics are all provided for you. The only thing you need to worry about is upgrading the equipment you already have. You can also buy lessons for you to become a better server or the chef to prepare sandwiches more quickly, which I thought was kind of interesting.
Another nifty feature is that you can actually carry two items at one instead of just one. And finally there’s turbo mode. As you take and fill orders and collect tips your turbo meter fills up. Combos, which are basically achieved by doing two or more of one task in a row, increase the turbo meter even more. When the turbo meter is full you’ll be in turbo mode for 30 seconds, during which everything you do is faster. During this time combos will also increase your level score instead of building up your turbo meter. This is a good time to get lots of extra points. If I had to gripe about anything it would be the preciseness / responsiveness of tapping. There’s a lot going on in a small area, and sometimes it seemed like I was tapping the wrong thing or it just wasn’t responding to my tap. Part of it could be that I have bigger fingers, I’m sure, but it just got frustrating at times when you’d look and realize the waitress was holding an item completely different than what you thought you had picked up.
The graphics in Turbo Subs are great. The look of the shop changes as you upgrade, the appliances and the chef are animated as the food is being prepared, and every character has their own unique style about them. I was a little disappointed in the fact that the customers themselves weren’t really animated, but in the scheme of things you’re not going to be spending much time starting at them anyway. The sound effects help bring the sub shop to life. Whether it’s the clink of a soda bottle being taken out of the cooler or the spin of the cotton candy machine, what sounds are there are really good. Having the customers make comments every once in a while, or even a grumble as they left the shop unhappy, would have added a bit more personality to the game. The music was okay, but I’m not really sure it fit with the overall theme of the game.
There’s something about the simple, frantic nature of time management games that’s remarkably fun. When you combine the base concept with a cool atmosphere and plenty of upgrades to be earned, this style of game can be enjoyable for many hours. Turbo Subs does just that, and does it quite well. If I had to finish out the comparison I’d say that Cake Mania has a bit more personality, but Turbo Subs stands strong in its own right. If you’re looking for a casual game to play a couple levels at a time, or a something to challenge you to beat all levels at an expert ranking, Turbo Subs is just the game for you.
[Note: images courtesy of App Shopper]