If you're unfamiliar with the series (which I - but not Sophie - was !), iCarly is an American teen-oriented series starring Carly and her best friend Sam who become online celebrities when their self-produced show, featuring talent contests, recipes, problem-solving and random dancing, is put on internet by a friend and goes viral.
Without really knowing the background of the game, some of the humorous aspects of the game left me slightly bewildered - "Unlock Random Dancing and Shirtless Gibby"? - run that by me again, shirtless?! - but Sophie smiled and said you had to be a fan of the show to get it. OK, that's me told then !
The blurb on the box says : "Carly and Sam need your help when they get into trouble at a hot dog stand and get assigned to community service. Their task? Serving up wacky dishes to crazy customers and citizens of Seattle! Play as the duo in this fast-paced, action puzzle game that dishes out all the random hilarity of the show! Interact with the entire iCarly cast! Earn special upgrades like Random Dancing or have Gibby charge shirtless into lines of customers! "Battle" over 20 types of hungry customers! Serve 25 wacky foods including spaghetti tacos, corn juice, and fladoodles!" I must be getting old because this had me raising my eyebrows again - so getting into trouble with the law and having to do community service is fun now then, right? What kind of role models are we getting here exactly ? But I think I'm reading too much into it - kids know that video games have nothing to do with real life, right?! Hmmm !
The game instantly reminded me a bit of a Tetris or Bubble Shooter kind of game. Carly (serving) and Sam (cooking) have to prepare the right foods and serve the customers constantly working their way along the lines before they reach the end, otherwise they leave in anger and you lose the level. But it's all a bit more strategic than that. Some customers move faster than others, some food takes longer to cook and some dishes serve several people so you need to work out who to serve first to prevent angry customers leaving. You can check out the customers and foods in the database in advance to help you work out how to succeed the level when trial and error isn't enough.
This adds an element of forward planning and logic that makes it much more interesting than a purely random game and also - especially as an adult - makes it quite addictive because you know it's down to your skill to keep things running smoothly and work through the levels.
There are 25 levels in all so I was worried it would get a bit repetitive and boring, but the game creators have worked in enough added surprises to keep things interesting - new locations (that fans will recognise from the series), different (and increasingly eccentric) types of customers, more wacky foods to prepare ... You also earn bacon bucks which you can cash in for useful items and skills, which jazz it all up a bit more.
It's a great game for dipping into for a few minutes when you don't want a long gaming session or if you have several children sharing the DS because they can rattle through a level or two in just a few minutes. It's fast-paced and very simple to get into so you can just pick it up and play without having to read through the instruction manual, which is always good for younger children. Players of all ages can have fun with it, but you need to get quite strategic to actually get through to the more difficult levels.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £24.99
Disclosure : We received a copy of the game in order to write an honest review.
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