Perhaps no other fat cat (or any other animal, for that matter) is better equipped to handle the day to day operations of a restaurant better than Garfield. The self-proclaimed expert on all things "food" has received his very own freemium mobile game on iOS in the form of Garfield's Diner. Mixing humor from the classic cartoons with time management gameplay similar to that of the any number of games in the "Spa" or "Salon" genres, Garfield's Diner is a cute and solid experience for both your iPhone or iPad.
The game's story presents you with the challenge of taking over Irma's diner, as she takes off on an indefinite vacation to Hawaii. After a quick name change, you'll play as Jon, Garfield and other characters from the comic strip through level-based gameplay that sees you trying to earn a specific number of coins (which increases over time) each in-game "day" in the diner. As patrons enter your diner, you'll need to drag them to the station of their choice, represented by a thought bubble above their heads. For instance, a pizza slice would indicate that you'd drag the customer to the pizza station, where you'd then tap on them to have Jon make them a slice.
Some customers are satisfied with one course, while others will also want drinks or multiple plates of food. Unfortunately, you can't queue tasks when things get hectic, so you'll need to constantly monitor who requests which items and tap on them as Jon becomes available to complete them. When all is said and done, you'll need to head over to the cash register to ring each patron out to actually get paid.
As you complete levels, you'll be able to upgrade Garfield's Diner to make serving stations create dishes faster or to allow you to charge more for each dish, and you can also hire a variety of other characters to also work in the diner, cutting down on the amount of tasks Jon will need to complete. Being that the game is free-to-play, it's monetized through some of these upgrades, as you'll need to purchase Garfield Points that can then be used to purchase them in-game. You can also purchase power-ups in each level that make Jon move faster, make you earn more money in each transaction and so on, all for limited periods of time.
You'll receive daily rewards for continually playing the game, but there doesn't appear to be any in-game limits to actually stop you from playing. That is, a traditional energy system isn't found here, so it will be up to you to decide when to call it quits. There's also a lack of social features here, but they aren't missed. Filling out the experience are achievements that can be earned by completing specific tasks and trading cards that can be collected by completing levels.
While Garfield's Diner is available on both iPhone and iPad (only in the Canadian App Store as of this writing), the two apps are separate downloads, so you won't be able to keep your progress between both apps. Still, they're both free to download and play so be sure to watch out for their arrival in the US iTunes store near you.
Are you excited to try out Garfield's Diner on your iPhone or iPad? Sound off in the comments.