Combine two cups of freemium with a scoop of time management. Then add a dash of social, mix it together, and you'll get MobCrete's Pucca's Restaurant [Free], the freemium game that's currently devouring my spare time.
Pucca is a massive media franchise that spans animation, console games, fashion lines, and a lot more. If you know absolutely nothing about it (like me!), you'll still find Pucca's Restaurant to be an adorable restaurant sim. If you're a fan, you'll see all your favorite characters come together to help take your restaurant from a tiny diner to an opulent five-star affair.
There are likely hundreds of freemium sim games on iOS, so I'm not going to claim that Pucca's Restaurant is the best or most unique. I can, however, tell you that it's a lot of fun, and I can't stop playing. There are a few things I look for in a freemium game, and this one stacks up well. I never feel like I absolutely need to pay for currency, I'm not missing out by choosing not to harass my friends, and there's always lots to do.
To take your restaurant to a five-star destination, you'll need to manage meals, staff and decor. Cooking meals earns you money and experience, so you can unlock new recipes and items as you level up. You can use those items to decorate, drawing in more customers and earning more stars. As your restaurant gets more popular, you'll need more staff to cook and serve the food.
There's a slight time management flavor to Pucca's Restaurant, as you'll need to plan your dishes carefully to make sure there's always something ready to serve. You also have to make sure your meals don't go bad before you serve them. Decorating feels a bit like Animal Crossing, which is a game that desperately needs more iOS imitation. And hey, if you want some educational content, each dish you can cook in the game includes a full recipe.
I'm really loving the social content. I'm usually wary of letting games use my location data, but I'm glad I threw caution to the wind for this one. Not only is there a Yelp-style list of restaurant ratings, you can also check out a local map and rate your shop against everyone nearby. Or you can travel around the world and check out the top rated international restaurants. Pucca's Restaurant has only been out for a couple weeks here, but it's been around since March in parts of Asia, so you can see lots of crazy-awesome high level restaurant layouts - and they're all different. You can also check out the restaurants of your Game Center friends.
There are a few items you can't get for your restaurant without using Garu points, the premium currency of the game. You earn Garu points for hitting milestones and unlocking secret rewards, but they don't show up often enough to cover every possible purchase. I haven't had any problem going without, though, and my little restaurant is certainly remaining competitive. I am, however, completely mystified about why saving progress to the cloud costs Garu points. You'd think making sure players never lose progress would be valuable enough on its own.
My biggest gripe is that Pucca's Restaurant badly needs a tutorial. I muddled my way though the first few levels, and eventually figured out how to store decor, how to move things around, why I want new staff, but it was a struggle early on. Apparently a tutorial is on the way in the next update, and so far MobCrete has been quick to bring out bug fixes and new content. You can also hit them up in our forums.
If you've got room in your heart for a new freemium game, give Pucca's Restaurant a try. It's super cute, it's fun, and it's free. Is there a better recipe for success?
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