Order Up! Is a cooking-game-restaurant-time-management simulator. Sort of. There are more than a couple facets to the game, and despite its deceptively simple facade, there's a decent amount of gameplay hidden beneath its chef's hat.
The game starts with you choosing your chef (male or female) and being unceremoniously dropped out of a plane to land in a dumpster in the small island city of Port Arabello. So, you know, nothing out of the ordinary. After a brief tutorial in the hands of the local Burger Face joint (make every day a Burger Face Day!), you quickly quit, purchase your own restaurant called the Gravy Gulp, and begin your career as a short-order chef. Your career will take you from the humble beginnings at a low-quality fast food joint straight to Mexican dining to Italian finery and finally to the haute-est of haute cuisine.
The gameplay is something of a mix between quick reflexes, time management, and restaurant supervision. As people enter your restaurant and take a seat, you'll get each of their orders and, with a set of kitchen appliances in front of you - a cutting board, grill, stovetop, food-processor, oven, and deep-fryer - you'll begin on their meals. Each meal simply involves clicking on the meal ticket using the pointer, clicking on one of the ingredients, and dragging it to its appropriate station.
Different ingredients in different meals require different methods of preparation. You'll be dicing and chopping vegetables, dredging various ingredients in flour, sauteing various ingredients, grilling things up, boiling and mixing, and the list goes on. The cutting board preparation involves you performing motions with the Wiimote before time runs out, while the other stations do things on their own, but must be monitored so that they don't overcook and/or catch fire. Grilling a burger patty, for example, requires you to sizzle the patty on one side until it's done, then flip it over to sizzle the other. Sauteing means having to flip the pan from time to time, and don't forget to stir that pot of macaroni either. Then its just a matter of taking the ingredient and placing it on the plate.
While the cutting board feels simply like it's been taken directly from Cooking Mama or some other movement-based cooking game, it's the actual cooking stations that make the game as enjoyable as it is. You see, you can simply make a burger by throwing the patty on the grill, flipping when required, throw in some fries and take them out when they're done, and then move on to the veggies. But that takes extra time. So, instead toss the burger on the grill, tear some leaves of lettuce, flip the burger and toss in some fries while you're at it. Then chop up the tomatoes, throw them onto the plate, and return to find a well-done burger and fries that are just about ready to come out of the fryer and onto the plate.
It's this time-management-esque part of the game that makes it really fun to play. You're constantly given challenges and seeing if you can pull of dicing a group of veggies while something boils means you'll be flipping between stations quickly. Of course, if you're more leisurely, there's no reason why you need to try to do everything at once, it just means a little less in the profit margin at the end of the day.
In addition to the main cooking part of the game, you have to remember that you actually have a restaurant to take care of. You'll take control of four restaurants through the game, and the goal in each is always the same: complete five different objectives to achieve five-star status. You can purchase extra recipes and specials to serve your clientele, clean up your restaurant, make a stack of cash, and even impress the resident food critic. There's also other depth to the game if you want to enjoy it: purchasing spices and adding it to the more colourful residents of the island mean getting more profits from them. In addition, purchasing and making your Chef's Specialities (by adding just the right spices to just the right ingredients) will mean a substantially larger amount of coin disappearing into your register. If you want, you can also hire some sous-chefs that'll lighten your load; each of them have their own talents and specialities, and using them to their potential is what'll get you the 'Perfect' rating every time.
Order Up! Is a perfect example of a budget title done right. There are responsive controls; graphics that, while not system-breaking, are pleasing to the eye; a number of extras for you to explore; a unique and colourful setting; and an experience that can be enjoyed by anyone. Even the soundtrack is a pleasant mix of genres, depending on the restaurant you're cooking in. The game's not perfect, of course, and there's a feeling that there's just not enough meat in this hamburger of a video-game, but what it offers is worth a second helping.