Star Wars: Cantina in Review – been there, done that, but the costumes are cool

What do you do to take a genre that’s starting to get overpopulated and take it to the next level? In the case of time management games, you add a really popular license into the mix. Given that a great percentage of time management games revolve around food, it seems fitting to feature a setting reminiscent of one of the most memorable bar scenes in sci-fi history, a Cantina on the planet of Mos Esely. Now that we’ve got the force of Star Wars backing us up (take that for whatever pun you’d like), we have to hope that there’s some addictive gameplay involved. Read on to see how Star Wars: Cantina performs as a TM game!

You play as Nia, a new character to the Star Wars universe who’s sole purpose is to further the plot of the game by helping her friend Robb save his cantina from a nasty loan shark. The game is comprised of two modes – Career and Endless Shift. In Career mode you have 15 days to earn enough money to pay back the loan shark. In Endless Shift mode you start with 5 stars, and you just keep serving customers until you lose all your stars. A star is lost when a customer leaves unhappy, and I don’t think stars can be earned back.

So how does all this work? First you greet the customers so they know they can take a seat. Then you go find out what they wish to order. Apparently you have strong lungs, because by the time you get back to the bar, Robb will have at least some of the drinks for you. You stack up what’s available (you can carry up to three glasses at a time) and serve your patrons. The clients will order certain colored drinks, but have no fear… if they’re having a good day they’ll take whatever you set in front of them. Of course, they might not be so generous with the tips if you don’t get their orders right. Once a particular party’s thirst is quenched (some patrons might order more than one round) they’ll let you know it’s time to pay the bill. You collect their money, clean the table off, and repeat until the day is through.

Controls wise, I personally found them a bit frustrating to get used to at first. This is likely due to the fact that the screen is divided into two sections, where you have to click near the bottom or top of the screen to move between the bar and tables sections. I’m used to these games being on one screen, so that admittedly threw me off for a little while. Once you do get the hang of the controls though (and the fact that Nia moves between both screens), you’ll be serving drinks like a pro.

The graphics are great. They’re somewhere between Clone Wars and the Galactic Heroes kids toys visually, and that works just fine for me. The cantina is well detailed, as are the characters, and there are nice little touches like the Gammorean thugs raising their axes when signaling that they wish to talk to you. For the most part the animation is quite well done, though sometimes the characters look more like Smurfs than tough bar patrons when they are walking.

The sound effects are decent enough, where each character seemingly has their own voice. The music is great. From the opening Cantina theme to the “yeah, that’s Star Wars music” tunes being churned out during game play, the music really helps set the atmosphere and remind you of what a great licensed property this is. The only thing we’re missing there is a visual of the band tucked in the corner somewhere. Maybe they’ll appear in an update?

How does this differ from any of the other time management games out there? Well, therein lay the biggest problem. It really doesn’t, other than the atmosphere. In fact, in some ways it’s a bit more simplistic than some of the time management games that I’ve played the most. You stay in one location the whole game, which I suppose stands to reason given the theme. Also, upgrading between days is limited to certain choices based on simple progress through the game, not based on the money you’ve earned.  So far it appears that you can’t even upgrade in Endless Shift mode.

So here’s what this boils down to. Hardcore Star Wars fans should get this game just because, well, it’s Star Wars. If you’re into time management games, you’ll probably enjoy it as well, but there are better time management games available on the iPhone. And if you’ve never played these type of games before, this might be a good place to start since it is a bit simpler in design than other games in the genre. Regardless, it’s still fun hang to around with characters from the Star Wars universe, and if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see a Rodian bounty hunter fight or two break out.

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App Summary
Title: Star Wars: CantinaDeveloper: THQ Wireless Inc.
Reviewed Ver:1.0.22Min OS Req:2.2.1
Price:$4.99App Size:31.6 MB
  • The Star Wars motif is well executed
  • Endless Shift mode is challenging
  • Upgrade system is watered down
  • Dual screen play a bit awkward at first
  • Brings nothing new to the genre

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