It’s always a good moment for iOS game reviewers when a console game finds its way onto the App Store without suffering from poor functionality and screen size limitations that often plague such ports. Well, Port Abello in Order Up!! To Go has made its way to the App Store after debuting on the Wii and appearing on the PS3 and 3DS, and it feels surprisingly native on the iDevice.
Order Up!! To Go puts you in the shoes and silly hat of a chef (gender of your choosing), and starts you out flipping patties at Burger Face. From there, you can cook your way through restaurants like Kung Fusion! and Stuffolini’s. Unfortunately, money making is a slow process in the game, and every restaurant beyond the diner Gravy Chug has a significant price tag– at least, for the silver coins you gain by playing. Gold coins are one of the freemium features, and they unsurprisingly accrue slowly in the game, or quickly if you open your wallet.
If a Pixar rat can cook, so can you.
We found this lighthearted game to be surprisingly multifaceted, because it goes beyond just cooking. With the exception of Burger Face, which is meant as a learning and cash-making workplace, you own each restaurant and have to balance paying for cleaning services, buying new recipes, and stocking enough plates to feed your expected customers without cutting into profits. There’s also a Yarp! review score system, which judges several aspects of performance, and seems (realistically, we suppose) a bit sensitive.
Cooking is the centerpiece, of course, and we found it to be fun and varied enough to stay fresh and challenging. Each recipe calls for different preparations, whether it be grating cheese, frying fish, slicing onions, sautÃ©ing ground beef, or something else entirely. The game does a good job of walking you through the required steps, all of which are gestures, leaving the screen uncluttered by buttons and giving it an iOS-native feel.
Special guests also keep the game fresh, which is helpful if you’re trying to earn enough to unlock new restaurants without paying for them. Characters from Tex Porterhouse to Brussels Sprouts will pay extra if you spice their food correctly, and the health inspector and food critic will keep you on your feet. At some point there may also be a range of assistant chefs, various minigames, and a Fortified Chef competition, as evidenced by “Coming Soon!” notes in their respective placeholders. We’re not fond of developers promising substantial game components instead of including them from the start, but we hope they appear quickly.
Order Up!! To Go is a well-rounded game, and it’s free to play. That being said, the freemium strategy hits you twice, with the option to buy gold coins and plentiful ads that can be removed for $0.99 (but not with gold coins). In the end, however, our few qualms didn’t manage to bring Order Up!! down.