Occasionally I yearn for entertainment on my iTouch that goes beyond flinging short-tempered birds or slicing virtual fruit into a salad. I decided to give G5 Entertainment’s “Supermarket Mania 2” a try since it returned me to a familiar game formula and did not feature a soundtrack of constantly squawking birds cursing at me.
As the name implies, “Supermarket Mania 2” is the second game where supermarket entrepreneur Nikki aims to show off the power of her friendly, personalized service as she takes over the town’s grocery needs. There is a thin tie between the two games in the story but it’s pretty moot and does not affect the game. Players control Nikki as she tends to the many chores of supermarket management such as stocking shelves, preparing various food items, mopping floors, upgrading equipment, and tending to customers with various needs. The graphics are surprisingly good for a casual game. Characters are animated and defined though each type of consumer looks like a product of cloning experiments. As time passes without proper management, the clean and fully stocked store smoothly transitions into empty shelves that compliment the mice ridden dirty floor as customers gradually get angrier. The five stages'”that’s not counting the tutorial'”each have a detailed backdrop that shows the bustling town outside the store. The comic pages that move the story are nicely drawn and make use of the iTouch’s touch zoom feature to feel like a proper e-book. Even the music fits the light mood of the game. I give credit to such presentation.
But even with excellent presentation, a good game relies on its gaming elements and that is where “Supermarket Mania 2” has a few problems. Game play involves touching stations requiring Nikki’s attention so she can stock shelves, prepare food, or tend to customers. Players can chain a large number of orders for her to execute'”there’s even an achievement for doing so'”and it is satisfying watching her move so efficiently around the store. While the touch pad makes for a quick and smooth means of control, Nikki is too quick at executing the commands. There is no penalty for attending to something that does not need attending as Nikki just zips through to the next task. It is just too easy to constantly pick random commands knowing that Nikki will eventually get to them during the level. Even most of the food preparation and customer service can be miraculously accomplished through random tapping. There is very little strategy.
The same touch screen control is also sometimes the hardest challenge, which kind of balances things out. Occasionally customers are mobbed together and the touch screen has trouble determining which particular customer or shelf you want Nikki to tend to. It may take several taps before she finally gets to the right one. Even menu buttons are sometimes require certain finesse to get them to actually work. And the giant undo button at the bottom right never worked throughout my play through.
The game does present a major challenge during deliveryman orders. Bring him the wrong item leaves Nikki holding it and unable to perform most of the other tasks. She can’t even drop the item since the aforementioned undo button never works. This causes a domino effect where other tasks can’t be done while additional customers get mad until the deliveryman leaves in a huff. If this was intentional, I say well done to countering my button mashing strategy. If it was unintentional, it’s a hell of a bug. Either way, it’s a frustrating moment that usually requires a restart.
Then there are the glaring typos in the instructions and the moments when the game freezes whenever the celebrity guest leaves. Being able to customize the layout and decoration to my personal liking would have been nice. But now I’m just nitpicking.
Despite the bugs and simple game play, I have to admit that “Supermarket Mania 2” is an addicting game. It is satisfying watching the money flow as the customers get satisfied. Upgrading the store from simple shop to fully stocked shelves does provide a sense of accomplishment in the game.
Bottom Line: Great presentation, limited challenge, some bugs. Yet “Supermarket Mania 2” is strangely addictive fun. It’ll definitely kill an hour or two.