Bistro Boulevard is a time management game that gives players the opportunity to bring Bistro Boulevard back from the brink of ruin. The once successful plaza has fallen on hard times financially, so it will take some skill to restore the area to its former glory. With that said, does this game manage to deliver a satisfying gaming experience? Let's find out.
A Different Spin on the Basic Time Management Game
In Bistro Boulevard, players are put in full control. Train and improve your chefs, or fire them if they don't seem to be doing the job right. Same with the waiters; feel free to hire and fire at will. Training your workforce takes money, but it's always worth it in the end in terms of increased earning potential.
Players may also outfit their kitchens as they see fit and unlock recipes based on what the customers want at any given time. All of these upgrades and improvements must be made with essential expenses in mind; you wouldn't want to come up short for rent or paychecks!
Colorful and Vibrant 3D Art Style
Designers walk a fine line when attempting to add 3D elements to their games. There is definitely such a thing as too much 3D, and when out of balance it looks cheesy, old and cheap. Not so in Bistro Boulevard! The 3D aspect is polished and well done, and manages to seem quite natural.
Poorly Detailed Animations Cheapen Gameplay
What could be more silly than seeing a nicely rendered person shove invisible food into their mouths with their bare hands? It's not uncommon for games to skimp on a few details here and there, but the contrast between the slick 3D rendering and the glaring lack of detail is just too much to ignore. It's distracting. How hard would have it been to at least give the people a utensil?
Beating Bistro Boulevard is a Breeze
There is basically no challenge to this game at all. Even losing customers isn't cause for retrying a level, and this is disappointing. The only reason to go back and play a level would be to improve on a past high score, and how many of us would do that?
If they had wanted a game that was accessible and enjoyable for those who found other time management games too difficult, they could have put in a few difficulty levels instead of making the hardness level so low.
No Customer Personalities
The customers may have varying appearances, but they all behave exactly the same. Don't expect any surprises here.
Incredibly Simple Gameplay is Slow and Boring
In Bistro Boulevard, the going is as slow as molasses. During the course of a day in the game, players may only seat the customers. That's it. No taking orders, no delivering food, no bussing tables. Nothing. Only the hired cooks and waiters have the ability to communicate with customers once they are situated at their table. Having gameplay during a business day limited to clicking and dragging a party to an open table really reduces the game's overall appeal.
On the flip side, perhaps this would be considered a perk to those who dread the frantic queuing and clicking of other time management games. In this reviewer's opinion, there is no excuse for this type of dumbed down gameplay mechanic in a time management game. Simplify the controls or even lower the difficulty level, but don't gut the gameplay entirely.
No Meters Leaves Players in the Dark
Meters that display things such as happiness levels are taken for granted until they're not there. In Bistro Boulevard, the only challenge during a business day is to seat to customers before their patience runs out, but the game doesn't bother to actually tell players where they're at in terms of customer happiness.
Charming Music Fits Well With Bistro Theme
The quaint music in this game brings a certain food themed Disney movie to mind, and it suits the game quite nicely. The music is noticeable without being annoying. All other sound is high quality as well, though one of the 'Mmm' sound effects gets a bit grating after a while, especially when the game goes double time after the restaurant has closed for the night!
Guessing the Recipe Ingredients is a Fun Twist
Rather than simply buying recipes, this game requires players to guess the ingredients correctly in order to have the opportunity to serve the dish in their restaurant. It starts out fairly easy, but the ingredients become more challenging as the game goes on. The game does sometimes provide hints which keep players from getting stuck.
Decorate Just the Way You Want
In most games, the design and style of the restaurants is static, but not in Bistro Boulevard. The walls, floor, table design, chair design and decor are all fully customizable by players. The sky is the limit as long as the waiters can access the tables. This level of creative freedom adds a lot of value to the game.
Not Much in Terms of Replay Value
Because the game lacks puzzle elements, there is little reason to replay this title once completed. Most players will remember the answers to the recipe ingredient combinations after unlocking them once, and the action of seating patrons is so slow and laid back that it doesn't really provide much incentive to play again.
Conclusion - A Mixed Bag
This game is a mixed bag of good things and not so good things. For players who put a lot of value on a laid back and casual gameplay experience with lots of customization, this game will provide a few hours of fun. It could also potentially be a wonderful game for children due to the simplistic, slow moving gameplay. For everyone else, this title will probably be underwhelming.
Review by Alice Flynn
Alice Flynn is a gaming enthusiast and journalist from Los Angeles, CA. She is currently obsessed with obscure foreign dramas, making tofu taste edible and the latest, greatest computer games.
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