Play On: Windows XP/Vista & 7
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Cake Mania: To the Max game is one of the most interesting CM games in the series to be released. This title brings together all the important features that have been introduced in the Evan Bakery since the first game was released back in 2006 and refined to an entirely new level. To the Max redefines the time management genre by streamlining the process and adding in a whole new feature: changing customer queues. There are plenty of cakes to bake and people to mind as players once again take on the Evans Bakery. This time, a full trip of Jill Evan's life from her teenage years (complete with that hard to deny 80's look) until her adulthood will set the pace and tone of the game. If you have played the first 4 titles in the series, then this is the one chapter that unites them all. The charming story and easy to learn gameplay certainly makes CM: to the Max one of our top choices for time management gaming.
It has certainly been a while since the first Cake Mania game was released in 2006 and lead character Jill Evans has seen plenty of growth. From her first appearance as an eager teen wanting to help her grandparents at their bakery, Jill has since grown to a full adult. While the previous sequels focused on her current achievements with her baking and relationships, To the Max points in a different direction: Jill Evans' early beginnings.
The first few minutes of the game will certainly seem a little mundane and unsatisfying for players who have not previously played a Cake Mania title before (but all the important gameplay elements are still present), but veterans of the series can expect to hit a significant nostalgic bump as the game takes a foreshadowing of how Jill became the super cake making queen that she is today.
While the storyline has taken a whole new direction in this cooking series, the gameplay has been sticking true to the old formula: get orders, bake cakes, get paid. It sounds simple enough, and watching anyone play even the hardest levels is easy to understand even for new players. But being able to queue all those tasks and orders in your mind however, is going to be a serious challenge.
Cake Mania to the Max Download takes a look back into the life of Jill Evans as she rummages through her things. As she finds one important trinket after another, Jill gets to talk about her past - which basically serves as the main backdrop for every important chapter in the game. This makes for a very interesting way of delivering new stages and it is also a nostalgic road trip down memory lane for plenty of Cake Mania fans. Of course, To the Max does not just linger on Jill Evan's past; the later stages touch up on other aspects of her life as well.
In many ways, we can see how To the Max is more of a title designed to attract to current fans of the series as opposed to newer players. While the gameplay is still easy to get into, the story seems a little constricted and linear as compared to the innovative way that sequels 2 and 4: Main Street were delivered. It is highly recommended that players first try out even the demo versions of the first few games in the series (Cake Mania 1, Cake Mania 2, Cake Mania 3 and Cake Mania 4) to get a better understanding of the CM story history before playing this title.
We have to say that To the Max, by far, is the most polished of all Cake Mania titles, the story is cohesive and consistent, the visuals are neatly made and appealing, and even the music is something that many players would appreciate.
Since this is a cake making game, CM's overall musical score borders more on upbeat lounge music than anything else. A few slight nods to the music of the 80's and the 90's help remind us all that many of these stages are simply flashbacks in the mind of Evans as she thinks back to her younger years. As with all CM games, the sound effects are crucial factors to the gameplay - we did find that it helps to lower the music volume while keeping the effects on a higher setting as some of the BGM tracks tend to overpower the audio.
The graphics on Cake Mania 6 Download have left us happy to see how far Sandlot has gone in terms of quality. While the first games had been rough and oddly designed, there is now a sense of cohesiveness in the bakery, the tools, the cakes and the way everything in the bakery seems to fit together. Gone are the slightly out of place colors and overly contrasting elements - it seems that a little interior design has gone a long way for Evans. Players of the series will be happy to know that all the buttons and other details for the oven and other tools have been laid out nicely; this is an important concern for completionists with strict control demands.
Not much has changed in the core aspect of Cake Mania's gameplay: customers line up, you give them a menu, create the cake they order, serve and get paid. It is a simple enough process, but one that players will certainly get a challenge from as the cake orders start getting much more complicated and the volume of customers start getting out of hand.
Laying out your upgrades is an important strategy in the game - many expert players would end up ignoring some of the initial devices due to the default placement and would instead focus on a much smaller area of the kitchen in order to optimize the time (as Jill's walking animation tend to eat time). Some would even strategically leave the payment money on the counter as a means of controlling the number of customers at any given time.
Controlling customers has always been an issue for many players of the series, with items such as clubs for distracting and cookies for bringing back patience levels. There has even been the introduction of TV sets in the bakery in order to keep the customers entertained. But in the end, being able to check out the entire queue and learning which customer to prioritize is a key strategy. To the Max introduces the option to re-arrange the way customers are set up, which helps in learning which people have to have their order completed first and which ones are patient enough to wait.
Without a doubt, Cake Mania 6 Download has defined what the series has been hoping to achieve in terms of story, delivery and overall gameplay. While it seems to lack much that silly dose of humor that has been quite abundant in parts 3 and 4, To the Max still manages to bring a smile even to new players of the series with its pop culture references and comedic content. As a time management game, this one is a gem to own and play. Expect to lose plenty of hours on this cake download - especially if you want to get all the expert rankings. We give this game a nostalgic baker's 85/100.
Cake Mania 6 Download: To The Max can be played in full version format now, on either Windows XP, Vista & Windows 7 - simply click here to download a copy.