Play On: Windows XP/Vista & 7
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Hungering for more of Jill Evan's Cakes? Cake Mania 4 Download: Main Street delivers all the sweet goodness of those freshly baked treats, with an extra dose of variety. The controls may be as simple as ever, but the addiction level just got higher. This addition to the successful time management series by the folks at Sandlot Games not only brings players behind the counter of the ever busy Evan's Bakery, but will also let you try out new jobs such as preparing burgers at Jack's, wrapping up sushi at Tiny's and arranging flowers at Risha's. There is also a whole new cast of customers with the most diverse demands yet: impatient vampires, geeky aliens, hungry sumo wrestlers and vanishing ninjas are just some of the many customers that are going to keep you cranking out orders like there's no tomorrow.
The fourth installment of the Cake Mania series brings Jill Evans back from her wild adventure in the past (and the future) to the present day. Once again, her baking skills are needed by Jack, Tiny and the rest of her friends as they work hard to bring back life to their hometown, hence the title, Main Street.
There is plenty of diversity in this new game, with players not only getting to use Jill, but three other characters as well. Calling CM4 a cake-game is a misnomer as it brings in elements from other genres such as flower arrangement and making burgers. The core features of the CM series is still present as well as the basic goal of each stage: serve the customers fast before they leave.
Variety is the big new attraction in this addition to the Cake Mania series as Main Street offers new game modes as well as a wide array of customers to serve. There is also an additional challenge as well; players have to be careful about special customers that have unique abilities that will often force players to change their current priority in order to get the customer served (and out of the store) as soon as possible.
Jill and her friends discover that business in Main Street is going down. In a nod to the plot of the first Cake Mania game, another major corporation has decided to do some expanding, and this time, they have built a mall nearby (named as the Baker's Corner Mall). In order to bring some income back to the people of Main Street, players have to work in the nearby shops, cater to various customer needs and develop the Main Street area.
In this part of the series, the bakery will not be the only place players get to enjoy, Jack, Tiny and Risha all open unique shops of their own providing the game with challenges that are quite different from the previous Cake Mania games.
It is a simple enough story, but the way it is delivered actually makes you care about the fine folks of Main Street. In many ways, the Cake Mania 4 Download improves a lot over the previous installment - CM3. Despite the fact that Jill went time travelling in the previous game, there was little to encourage players to push through with the story and hardly any point in wanting to see Jill get back to her wedding in time. Main Street on the other hand takes the cause a little closer to home. With the threat of their home town looming just a short distance away, players are inspired to bake, serve and worker faster and harder than ever before.
If you are familiar with previous installments of the Cake Mania series, then Main Street will be quite a nostalgic trip - though visually, everything looks so vividly new. Gone are the simple provincial backgrounds that we were introduced to in the very first CM title. Instead, the new map screen shows a locale that is pretty much an equivalent of a pre-commercial development suburban district. There is now plenty of room for stores and other odd attractions and everything looks slightly more festive than it was before.
The game itself is easy on the eyes; Jill is nicely animated, along with the rest of her friends, the customers and of course, the tools inside the store. The frames are now more consistent and plentiful - resulting in smoother animation quality.
The music for Main Street brings is a good accompaniment to the pace of the game. It also serves as a mood setter for locations outside of the Evan's Bakery. Once again, we are quite happy with how the effects have turned out. While the music is hardly needed in the game, players will find the audio effects to be important when they need to get that top score. It helps players keep track of store events, which is crucial in achieving the trophy for expert ratings in all stages.
The game is quite simple in concept, use the store and earn plenty of money to develop Main Street. Earnings can be used to either improve the store to generate more money, or to purchase town attractions that bring in more customers and higher income. The great thing about Cake Mania 4 Download is that Jill is no longer alone in her efforts as players now have the option of choosing other characters in the game.
Jack's Burger Bar, Risha's Flowers and Tiny's Sushi are all available in the game (after meeting various requirements) and players get to have plenty of variety. While the flower and sushi shops are simply harder versions of the bakery and the burger bar, the change in pace will be quite welcome especially for veterans of the series.
Evan's Bakery still retains that old gameplay of getting the cake layers and icings right for each customer while the Flower shop mirrors the game play but uses wrapping stations instead of icing applicators. In both cases, speed is important as well as understanding how long each device takes to prepare an output.
The Burger Bar and the Sushi place are slightly different: it focuses on how the products are prepared. Players will have to keep track of how to put together an order (basically: what goes in the plate) and serve them up to customers accurately. The Sushi bar setup makes this harder by leaving some of the ingredients as educated guesses by the player.
Aside from new game modes, the large variety of customers makes the game even more challenging. There are now customers like the crook which will steal money left unattended on the counter. Aliens will change the channel on the TV rendering its effect useless on the rest of the customers. There are even vampires that will bite and turn the rest of the crowd if they are kept waiting too long.
Cake Mania's success may have been thanks to a tried and tested formula, but we certainly have to give credit for the way Main Street deviates from the norm. They have also kept the surrealism of the plot to a more manageable and more importantly, logical storyline. The humor has not been toned down - which is a good thing, and serving cakes and burgers to ninjas, vampires and hippies has never been more fun. The inclusion of trophies will get hardcore players and veterans of the series plenty of gameplay hours especially when it comes to fully upgrading the town and achieving full expert ratings. Overall, Cake Mania 4: Main Street proves to us why time management food-themed games are so successful. We give this game a hungry hippie's 82/100.
Cake Mania to the Max game can be played in full version format now, on either Windows XP, Vista & Windows 7 - simply click here to download a copy.