When it comes to cooking games, either on mobile or Facebook, we've seen dozens of games come and go, with most revolving around the same basic premise: cooking dishes and then serving them to automated guests to earn coins and continue the cycle. With Namco's newest Android game Deluxe Cafe, we're unfortunately left with a rather stale experience with plenty of technical and design issues to boot.
Deluxe Cafe has an incredibly simple premise: you've been given the keys to a new cake shop, and can cook a variety of cakes that each take a different amount of time to prepare. A single stove can only cook one dish at a time, and these dishes must then be served on individual counters. If you cook the same cake more than once, you unfortunately can't stack these servings onto the same counter, but must waste space purchasing and placing additional counters until you have enough to display everything you've prepared.
The most unique feature in Deluxe Cafe is the ability to create dishes that can then be customized in terms of name, cooking time and prepared servings. You'll have a few categories to choose from, ranging from the color / flavor of the base cake to the color(s) and patterns of the icing, sprinkles and add-ons, and so on. Each item you add to the cake increases the cost of production, but you can manually choose how long you'd like to wait for the dish to cook, so long as you accept that a shorter cooking time results in less servings being available for your cafe.
While the majority of Deluxe Cafe deals with cakes, you can also purchase access to ice cream dishes (and the ice cream dish creation studio) by spending a few units of premium currency. If you don't want to waste your currency on it, you'll need to add 10 neighbors, but actually having real world friends that also play Deluxe Cafe is obviously not a guarantee. Regardless of how you unlock the ice cream menu, you'll end up cooking ice cream dishes on the stove, which makes little sense, but this added variety of dishes also adds to the amount of individual counters you'll need to place in your cafe.
In terms of cafe customization, you can purchasing individual tables and chairs, but you'll need to make sure a pathway exists around the outside of these items so that guests can sit down and actually eat. Expansions do exist for the overall cafe, but they're level-locked. While quests tend to keep you pushing forward, you can run out of quests, which is unfortunate. Furthermore, a cash register and hostess will stand in the corner of your restaurant, but they're completely motionless and do nothing else than take up space. That is, guests will enter and immediately sit down, and any profits you earn from these guests will appear automatically above their heads. So, what was the point of cluttering up our bakeries even more with this cash register and hostess area?
Deluxe Cafe allows the expected kinds of social interaction, as you can connect your Facebook account and post in-game screenshots / achievements for your friends to see, and you can also visit community neighbors (strangers) and can leave a "Like" star on top of any decoration or item in their bakeries that you happen to particularly like. While you can technically add strangers as friends as well, the ability to do so is convoluted and arguably hidden, as you'll need to manually navigate through a set of in-game menus to first memorize the exact name of the player's cafe, only to type that in to send a request to that player that they may never see (because it too can get lost in menus).
While these issues scream of oversight at the very least, the biggest issue in Deluxe Cafe is the game's ability to relaunch the initial tutorial when returning to your own restaurant, after visiting a neighbor. There's no way to skip the tutorial, or even close its windows, so you'll be forced to complete the tutorial tasks all over again until the developers at Namco can fix this game breaking bug (part of the tutorial asks you to serve a cake that's sitting on your stove, but if there is no cake on the stove, the game simply stops functioning).
Putting it simply, there are far better cooking games than Namco's Deluxe Cafe. Even if the game's repeating tutorial issue is fixed, there are simply too many design oversights to forgive the experience altogether. If you're still willing to give the game a try, you can now download it for free on the Google Play store.
Click here to download Deluxe Cafe on Google Play --->
Have you tried Deluxe Cafe? Have you run into any of the issues we've described? Sound off in the comments!