The Apocalypse has passed and as luck would have it, nobody thought it would be a good idea to stockpile a bunch of food in their cellars in preparation for such an event. That leaves you – brave server in the world’s last remaining restaurant – in quite a predicament as a continuous stream of people and even animals flock to your place of employ searching for good eats. While the restaurant awesomely contains an infinite supply of ingredients, the chefs complicate things by shoving randomly prepared dishes onto conveyor belts and leaving it up to you to fulfill patrons’ specific desires as best as you can with available entrees before they keel over from sheer starvation.
At least, that’s the impession one gets when examining the App Store page for YozzFun’s breakout effort. In and of itself the game provides an oddly upbeat presentation complete with cartoonish visuals, the only clues to the truth of its scenario lying in some groovy dystopian music tracks and the fact that customer “patience” is measured in little hearts, the universal videogame symbol for physical well-being. Given some misspellings in the game’s opening tutorial it appears YozzFun was keen on skipping lengthy explanations and cutting right to the chase.
Going into this I had my doubts as to whether food service could be whipped up into a compelling game experience, but the execution is solid and well suited to the platform. Crazy for Food revolves around the task of keeping an eye out for specific dishes among the items streaming by and touching a dish when it’s aligned with a customer desiring that dish. Doing so successfully racks up points in the player’s score tally, while selecting an undesired dish or a dish that’s already slid past the customer will result in a broken plate and a point penalty. Customers leave with happily filled stomachs if they’re successfully fed over a period of time or else vanish if left hungry, making way for more mouths to feed. Clearing each level requires earning a specified number of points within a limited time period.
Crazy for Food randomly generates each level: customer combinations, the order in which food types are furnished, and even the directions of the food-laden conveyor belts differ each time the player reloads a particular stage. Further wildcards appear in the form of limited availability to ask the restaurant’s chefs for particular dishes as well as devil costume-wearing customers who obscure their wanted dishes with complaints. The way the game assigns points encourages strategy on the player’s part; sometimes it’s better to focus on repeatedly pleasing one customer than trying to satiate everyone. OpenFeint integration keeps tabs on the player’s high score in comparison to those of other players and offers medals for varying levels of food serving perfection.
YozzFun does a commendable job familiarizing the player with Crazy for Food‘s mechanics despite some grammatical issues in the game’s sparse text. Rather than mix in differing modes or minigames, or try to put new twists on its basic conception of postapocalyptic food service, the developer relies on skyrocketing challenge to vary gameplay over the long haul. This is Crazy for Food‘s major liability. By level 15 or so (out of 100!) the number of customers, their ensuing verbal and visual complaints, and the sheer range of food types surging out the kitchen produce so much chaos that meeting rising score quotas can become a more frustrating than enjoyable experience.
Getting decently far into the game requires an heroic ability to keep one’s cool under chaotic stress, which places Crazy for Food squarely in the arena of die-hard challenge seekers. Whereas a casual or middle-of-the-road player can get by in most difficult action and action puzzle games by memorizing patterns or at least breathing between rare opportunities to advance, the constantly fast-paced and randomly generated stages here ensure one hair-raising experience after another.
It’s a shame that Crazy for Food‘s exponentially rising challenge is liable to turn off many gamers before they get a chance to hear its entire soundtrack. It brims with interesting tunes — some filled with silly celebratory xylophones, others with dystopian techno beats I found myself really grooving to. In any case, the game supports turning off music while keeping sound effects on if the player wants to jam to something different while busily serving dishes.
iFanzine Verdict: A well-designed take on the food service genre weighed down by a few presentation issues and the extraordinarily hectic nature of its gameplay. Nevertheless, this should nicely fill the gullet of anyone searching for an offbeat and insane OpenFeint challenge. In-game music should also appeal if you’re into instrumental electronica.