It's a well-known fact that cake is awesome, so it would stand to reason then that a game about cake would be awesome as well. But that's not the case with Majesco's Cake Mania on the Nintendo DS. Don't be fooled by the game's cover art, which makes the game look as if it's geared toward young girls. Cake Mania is repetitive, frustrating, and surprisingly difficult.
Cake Mania places you in the role of Jill, a young woman fresh out of culinary school. When she returns home from school, she's shocked to learn that her grandparents' bakery has gone out of business. Determined to "show the big bad big box business who's boss," Jill sets out to reopen her grandparents' beloved bakery.
Cake Mania was originally a Flash game, so it makes sense that its gameplay isn't overly complicated. You work in a bakery and it's your job to take customers' orders, bake cakes, decorate them, and then serve them. The game is played entirely with the stylus, and you move and perform actions by tapping a location or item on the touch screen. When customers walk in the door, you walk over to them and tap the menu icon. After a few seconds, the cake they want to order appears onscreen, and then you walk over to the oven and press the button that corresponds to what type of cake they want. When the cake is ready, you carry it to the bottom of the screen and ice it. If they want a decoration, you pick up the cake and press a button to decorate it. When it's all finished, you take the cake to the customer, collect their payment, and do it all over again for the next customer.
This sounds easy, but it's really anything but. You almost always have more than one customer onscreen, so you're constantly multitasking, which is often difficult because the icons onscreen are tiny and it's easy to tap the wrong ones. Since each step in baking a cake takes a few seconds, one mistake often means the difference between meeting the quota for the day and having to do the entire level over. Certain customers, like Cupid and the Easter Bunny, are less patient than normal customers, so you must make sure you tend to their needs before their patience meter runs out. You can hand out cupcakes to refill the meter a bit, but the time it takes to go get a cupcake negates any positive effect the cupcake has. You can upgrade your kitchen in a number of ways to help serve your customers better. You can purchase a display case in which you can place a premade cake with a 20 percent chance of selling, but you never have time to make extra cakes. Faster ovens, better microwaves, and faster frosters will in theory help you get ahead, but by the time you're able to afford these items, the customers are less patient and more particular about their cakes. If you were hoping for some multiplayer action or some other types of game modes, you're out of luck; there's nothing else to do here.
Cake Mania isn't much to look at, either. It's extremely colorful, but the graphics are grainy, and it seems as if little effort was put into optimizing the visuals for display on the DS. Many of the icons are small, which makes them hard to tap and see. The audio isn't any better. There are a few sound effects here and there, though they're not of a very high quality. The music isn't very good at all, but the songs play quietly in the background where they're less likely to grate on the nerves.
What it all boils down to is that running this bakery isn't a whole lot of fun. There's no creativity involved--you're just tapping icons. The game's also quite difficult, so you're constantly on edge while you're playing. There are several different bakeries as well as a bonus quest, but the gameplay is so repetitive that you're not likely to play long enough to enjoy it.