The Papa Louie franchise continues in this taco-shaped reimagining of the unstoppable time-management series based on culinary delight, difficult customers and filling the tip jar.
Tacos are a wonderful foodstuff. After all, anything that involves placing large quantities of meat on what is essentially a corn-based boat and sailing this newly-crowned HMS Taste towards the turbulent waters of my stomach will always have my vote. By extension, therefore, any game that involves the preparation and creation of these tantalising snacks already has my curiosity, after which all it needs to do is grab my attention. The delightfully entertaining series of restaurant-based time management games from Flipline Studios has been unswerving in their capacity for providing outrageous levels of addictive entertainment with the most simple of concepts. This time, Papa Louie feels that tacos are the way to go, and I cannot even begin to disagree with him. This title has you immersed in the taco production process from taking the order through to sweating it out in the kitchen and finally pulling the meat pin on the flavour grenades by serving them to the customers. Be prepared to be educated in the world of meat-based snacks served on their very own carbohydrate plate. Time-management; thy name is taco.
Getting down to the meat of the gameplay (no more appalling meat-based puns; that’s a promise), Papa’s Taco Mia follows the format of each and every other Papa Louie game before it: you play as a central character (whom you choose at the beginning of the game) and have been given the opportunity to run your very own restaurant whose entire menu consists of tacos and the various toppings which go well with said tacos. Taking orders from customers of increasing difficulty and number, you must accurately construct these orders by stepping into the kitchen and playing through the available food production stations, preparing all of the food manually. Everything is controlled with the mouse so you can focus entirely on making the ultimate taco every time without having to worry about which key does what to whichever foodstuff. When you are satisfied with your culinary preparation, the customer will then scrutinise it closely and award you percentage-based scores for each aspect of their taco-related troubles: high scores equals more tips in the jar and a variety of unlockables which prolong the game’s life significantly.
As with all of the “Papa’s” games in existence, Papa’s Taco Mia affords you complete control over the food preparation, with everything from frying the meat to sprinkling over the correct toppings. The meat must be fried and flipped at the right time and the toppings must be applied in the order specified by the customer, and even sprinkling of the toppings is the only way you’re going to earn top marks. The initial simplicity of the game soon evaporates as you unlock more customers demanding more complicated combinations of ingredients whilst being noticeably harsher when judging the finished product. The time-management aspect of the game becomes much more apparent once the restaurant starts to get busy, but the more you progress, the more tips you are able to earn. These tips can be spent on various upgrade items such as guacamole posters to increase the score given for the waiting aspect of the customer’s experience. Further upgrades such as alarms to tell you when customers are waiting or functional enhancements that facilitate the cooking process are probably the most addictive thing about the game.
Simple and Effective
The graphics aren’t groundbreaking, the idea is nowhere near complex, and the storyline is more questionable than that of any film starring Nicolas Cage, but damn this game is addictive. The alluring challenge of time management combined with the control you have over the cooking process and the improvement of the restaurant puts Papa’s Taco Mia at the top of the charts in terms of time management games, and indeed even among the “Papa’s” series.