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Cake Mania

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Sandlot Games
Developer: Sandlot Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Cake Mania are cheery, bright and well done. Your character, Jill, is very cute as she bustles around the bakery. She serves various types of customers, but that is what they are - types. You've got your guys in Easter Bunny suits with their 5 o' clock shadows, your generic college students who are all female, red-haired and hippie-clothed, there's the impatient young boy with his baseball cap, the angelic Cupid, Santa Claus, and so on. They are all drawn nicely, but it can get boring seeing the same types of folks over and over. However, familiarity breeds better game playing, since you learn to anticipate their needs based on their customer type and look. If there was a great variation, I don't think the game would work as well as it does.

Playing in the background are boppy little tunes that serve their purpose well. Sounds effects like the bell on the door, the customers' angry grunting or whining and the timers ticking on the stoves and frosters all serve to keep you nervous and bringing your "A" game - which is exactly what they are supposed to do.

Your bakery locale does change as you "level up", so to speak, so that keeps things fresh. You'll start off at a modest little shop inside of your home, then move to a beach shop, then to a circus and on to Vegas and beyond. The change of pace keeps things fresh as both the look and corresponding sound effects change with the new locations.


Cake Mania is a lot like Diner Dash or Rootbeer Tapper and games along that line. Customers come in, you serve them and hope you get it done right. You play the game as Jill, whose grandparents' bakery has been basically driven out of business by big business. Since they raised you and sent you to culinary school, it's your job to get in there, make the money needed and save the family store!

The basic premise is this. You have a goal of how much money you need to make for the month. You bake cakes, hopefully don't screw up any orders, keep all the customers happy and make your goal. You begin with one oven and one froster, but as you make extra money, you can buy additional overs and frosters, upgrades to make them both faster, toppers for the cakes, a TV to keep your customers happy, super-fast tennies to make you sail around the kitchen with ease and a cupcake oven to give your impatient customers freebies.

Strategy must be implemented in what you upgrade and buy since you can only do this in between levels and your funds are limited. If you buy the wrong topper and it happens to be the month where another topper is going to be super popular (like the bridal one in June, for instance), you probably won't make your goal.

As you progress through the months, the customers and orders will change. Cupids show up in February, Easter Bunnies in April, Santa during Christmas, little boys during the summer, brides during June, etc. They'll want corresponding cakes such as the egg cake for Easter, the Christmas Tree during Christmas and so on. As your skills improve, so will the orders diversify. You'll go from single layer cakes to double layer cakes, cakes with toppers, etc. You have to select the proper cake design, wait for it to bake up, then frost it with the appropriate color frosting, then place it on the decorating machine for a topper, if necessary. All of this takes time and all the while, more customers are streaming in and placing their orders - well, that is, if you managed to give them a menu.

Each customer has several hearts next to them which indicate their patience level. Lots of hearts means they are not in a hurry. Two hearts means you had better hurry with their order. As time goes by, the hearts disappear. You can add one back on by turning the TV to either cartoons (kids, Cupids and Easter Bunnies like this one), the news (for the guys) and a cooking show (for the gals). Choose wisely because you can't easily switch channels once its on there. You can also ply them with free cupcakes, but this takes time away from food prep.

After you've finished the cake, you hand it off to the correct customer and collect the money and start the cycle all over again. Multi-tasking is the name of the game here though. You must wait on numerous customers at once and it can get pretty hairy at some points.


Cake Mania starts off easily enough and ramps up in difficulty appropriately. The more upgrades and goodies you buy for your kitchen, the tougher the customers will get. After all, you've just made things easier for yourself, so the game will keep up. If you choose the wrong upgrades, you could very well paint yourself into a corner. So choose wisely. If you do this, don't fret. Yes, you will have to fail until you lose your three "lives" but then you can start over again where you last saved. What gets really bad is when you screw up a cake order by putting the wrong topper on it or by frosting it the wrong color. Then its a loss because no one wants the cake, unless you have already purchased a cake dish and you put it on display. Then there's a chance some hungry customer will buy it just like it is.

When I hit the 3/4 of the way through the game mark, it got really tough. Customers have very little patience to speak of and if you lose a customer because you took too long, you'll get stuck with a cake or two. This can spell the end of the road, or at least that level. I haven't been able to progress past this point, but I am still trying...

Game Mechanics:

Cake Mania uses a simple point and click interface, so it is very easy to play but difficult to master, as they say. If you click on the oven, Jill will walk to it. You must click on a cake design and she will bake the appropriate cake. Click on the froster and she puts the cake down, but click on a color of frosting and she frosts the cake. Same with clicking the topper decorating area. If you are not careful with your clicks, you could go start another order and not realize that the cake is merely sitting there waiting for you to click the appropriate decoration. This can generate much frustration, especially when you have several orders going at once and all the customers are losing patience with you!

All in all, Cake Mania is just plain fun. It's a download game and costs about $20, so for that small amount, you can't beat it. If you are still unsure, download the free demo. But be warned - once you start, you can't stop.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 98/ME/2000/XP; Pentium 2 400 MHz; 128 MB of RAM; DirectX 7 or above; 3D Hardware Accelerated Video Card with 16MB Video RAM

Test System:

P4 1.8 GHz, 480 MB Ram, Integrated Sound and Video

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated