WP7 – Star Wars Cantina Review
Yet another iOS title now graces Microsoft’s fledgling Windows Phone 7 platform and though I can’t say that this is a top tier product it is light-hearted enough to satisfy most. With the license for the most well known science fiction franchise in hand it is somewhat dumbfounding that THQ decided to create a time management title that features not one appearance by any known character. Instead, Star Wars Cantina presents a completely new narrative that unfortunately is less convincing than the prequel movies. Okay, I can’t help but level a dig at the newest trilogy but suffice it to say story is not what will keep players entertained with this title.
At its heart the entire game revolves around controlling an intergalactic backpacker named Nia Adea who visits her bartender friend Robb who is the owner of a small cantina in the city of Mos Enthra on the planet Tatooine. However, entering the cantina she sees a loan shark roughing up her friend and agrees to help him repay his debt within fifteen days. The actual gameplay is quite straightforward as the player navigates Nia as she scurries between showing customers to their seats, taking drink orders and then picking them up at the bar. It is, in other words, a Star Wars take on such franchises as Diner Dash or Sally’s Salon as the trick in managing and delivering orders lies in how well the player uses the time allotted to them. Take too long and customers will begin to get upset and fume lowering their enjoyment level until they run out of patience and leave the cantina without paying.
While it can sometimes be hectic enough shuttling back and forth between customers and the bar it is much more challenging than merely being a mule since the player must be aware of what types of drinks have been ordered and deliver the proper ones to the customers. Choose incorrectly and the customers will not be pleased.
Each level has a monetary goal which needs to be met or exceeded or else the level must be replayed. At the end of a successful level players are allowed to choose one upgrade to the bar which usually helps by increasing the level of patience in certain customers, allowing Nia to hold more drinks or augmenting Robb the bartender to make beverages faster with the aid of robots.
Since this is a Star Wars game all the customers are made up of different types of recognizable races all of which have different traits. For instance, there are moisture farmers who don’t tip well but are very patient, bounty hunters who are very impatient but give high tips or jawas who are actually patient but will steal tips if angered. Knowing the ins and outs of each group will go a long way to understanding which orders to fulfil first in order to placate those who have much shorter patience levels.
The game does feature a nifty dual screen setup which would make it a perfect fit on the Nintendo DS or 3DS. Unfortunately, as most will be aware of, smart phones only have one screen which makes THQ’s design decision feel like an unnecessary addition. In theory it works like this – the top screen consists of the bar area and the line up of customers while the bottom screen houses all the tables and chairs where the customers reside. With a simple tap the player can send Nia moving from top screen to bottom screen but herein lies the problem as there is really no reason to split the playing field like this as all it does is introduce a bit of lag as Nia changes screens.
Graphics are bright and cartoony with some nice fluid animation and since this is a Star Wars game the audio is again top notch although many might get sick of hearing John Williams’ Cantina theme played over and over again.
As much as the game is fun this Windows Phone 7 port has some serious technical issues first and foremost being very annoying stuttering and lag that seriously affects a player’s rhythm during gameplay sessions. It is much worse than merely dropping the occasional frame when Nia moves from screen to screen as what usually occurs is a complete stop and freeze of the game for about half a second. This is infinitely aggravating as the player will usually keep tapping trying to get the game moving again but what eventually occurs is that the game will unfreeze and then send Nia scurrying off into an area which you did not want her to go thus wasting precious time. THQ really should go back and optimize the code a bit more with future updates since the time management genre really depends on fluidity of movement as the player directs his/her avatar around. As it stands the freezing appears to be random although I admit that I encountered it a lot more whenever I had to close the game and then restart it from suspended mode as the lag seemed much more prevalent.
The game ships with two modes, one of which is the core game story mode and the other is merely an endless mode where the game keeps getting progressively harder until the player loses. Both modes are a single player affair which is not much of an issue since there’s really no way that time management can be enacted through cooperative or competitive multiplayer as of yet. This is an Xbox Live enabled title thus players will be rewarded with achievements towards their gamerscore. Since the game is easy most of these achievements revolve only around servicing a set number of customers although a few of the tougher ones will require multiple playthroughs or at the very least much playing of the endless mode. Additionally, the game comes preloaded with five different languages of English, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish.
While players who love the time management genre will find something to like here there really isn’t anything innovative going on past the Star Wars themed setting. Throw in the fact that the game is quite short yet is twice the price of its iTunes brother and there is really no reason to double dip unless you need a gamerscore boost. With no multiplayer or chances for downloadable content to be added the game is certainly an acquired taste even for those diehard Star Wars fans who need anything remotely connected to the franchise. However, until more games show up on Windows Phone 7 this is basically the only choice players have to satisfy their time management itch and though it is decidedly mediocre with some irritating bugs it’s more than enough to momentarily satiate your thirst.
Final Score: **1/2
Reviewed On: Samsung Focus
Date: April 27, 2011
Reviewed Version: 1.0
Size: 19 MB