DChoc’s affinity for delicious chocolates comes through with a bang in Chocolate Shop Frenzy, a new time management game that follows the travails of a small-town chocolatier. While Chocolate Shop Frenzy doesn’t bring much new gameplay to the table–in fact, it’s modeled directly on Sandlot’s Cake Mania games–DChoc gave it a double dip in terms of production quality, resulting in a very playable and attractive action-puzzler.
When we says that Chocolate Shop Frenzy pays considerable homage to Cake Mania (and a bevy of other time management games), we mean it. First, it stars a plucky female protagonist running an upstart business. Second, she rushes around her shop preparing treats to order for waiting customers and picking up tips. Third, she makes fancier boxed, specialty, and frosted chocolates for her patrons by feeding basic chocolates into a series of machines. Fourth, there are many types of customer, with varying levels of patience and tipping. Sound familiar yet?
There are a few new wrinkles in Chocolate Shop Frenzy. None are very substantive. For instance, all of your machines auto-upgrade in a set sequence, so you don’t need to worry about reinvesting your profits efficiently. Occasionally the shop’s phone rings and a radio DJ gives you a pop quiz on chocolate trivia for extra cash. Also, if you serve a customer marked with a lightning bolt in a timely fashion, you’ll enter super-speed mode for a short while. Finally, the regular game stops every so often to foist a Match-3 game on you. This is supposed to represent “experimenting” with new forms of specialty chocolate, but it’s really just an annoying tack-on.
So, yes: Chocolate Shop Frenzy is basically a clone of an older game… but it’s a gorgeous clone. The colorful art direction and finely wrought animation are both top-notch; so is the game’s intuitive touch interface, which cuts confusion and mistakes to a minimum. We liked the sound a bit less, but it’s still strong. There are a few looping samba tunes to keep you humming during play, as well as lots of mechanical sound effects. We will say that the tidbits of voice acting for the customers sound kind of strange, although it didn’t bother us much. You can’t play your own music.
When all was said and done, we ended up having a good amount of fun with Chocolate Shop Frenzy. It’s got proven gameplay, a clever story (complete with dastardly villain!), a quality presentation, and pretty decent replay value, especially when you factor in various achievements and expert goals. We got our $4.99 worth, and if you like this style of game, so will you.