TouchArcade has gone a round with Bar Oasis before, back in 2010 when the first installment came out. However, I was completely unfamiliar with the game when I got word of Bar Oasis 1.5 [Free], which promises to bridge the gap between the first game and the sequel. I wasn't sure what the difference was exactly until I read the fine print: the second game will give you access to tons of extra content, so we're just getting a taste here. But the taste I got left me ready for much, more more.

For those of you who never played the first game in the series, Bar Oasis 1.5 offers an experience much like that of the Phoenix Wright series and other text-heavy games. In reality, it resembles a visual novel more than the Phoenix Wright series does, so if you don't like lots of dialogue, don't download this one. However, if witty banter and great mini-games appeal to you, you're going to adore this. It also feels a bit like playing a really good anime, which is the ticket straight to my heart with no stops inbetween.

In Bar Oasis 1.5, you play the role of an attractive girl named Carla who loses her job and finds herself at Bar Oasis much by accident. Despite your relative lack of experience, you quickly find out from the head bartender that the guy they usually count on (Vincent, from the first game) has gone running off to China after some elusive woman. And so, they're desperate for help. You get drafted into his old spot, with lots of characters waiting to get to know you as you learn how to be a great bartender.

Bar Oasis 1.5 has two main modes: story and making drinks. The game utilizes motion, so you will actually tilt the phone to pour and shake it when you use the mixer. One of my only complaints about the game was trying to master the timing (but I think that's part of the point). Sometimes it seems like timing is the key, as there is a timer in the top right corner that tells you how well you are doing.

It says "Pro" if you're fast enough, and will eventually tick down to "Amateur" if you take way too long. Making the mix drinks also means memorizing the backbar and where things are, which will come naturally after you've made enough preliminary drinks. The game is very smart about this as you serve a whole lot of bottled beer and whisky shots before you get down to more varied orders.

One really cool thing about the game is that all the drink recipes are accurate, so as you unlock them all, you're also getting a handy recipe app to make cocktails with in the process. It's when you notice little details like that that you start to realize how clever this game's entire concept really is. You also have a drink making mode available right from the menu, so you can access the recipes easily and also practice making the drinks. This comes in really handy if you are struggling with getting the drinks right in story mode.

Bar Oasis 1.5 is easily the best title I've played on my phone in ages, but that's also a matter of personal taste. I'm a huge fan of innovative concepts, and in a sea of physics puzzlers, you really notice when something swims to the forefront. The character development is clearly the focus of this game, and it's nicely balanced with the drink making mechanic.

There are only 20 drinks available in this limited free teaser version, but the developers promise 100 in the upcoming Bar Oasis 2. Frankly, I would have come back just to spend more time with the characters, but I'll take more drinks to learn as a backup excuse. Don't miss this one. It might be free, but I'd have easily paid for a title as interesting as this and am eagerly looking forward to Bar Oasis 2.

TouchArcade Rating

StarStarStarStarStar
  • clement renaudin

    I'm so glad that it's getting a front page review, I love this series : )

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5FLRQI2X2LU3IHMCG7HEAEFD5I Cat Astrophy

    So what was Bar Oasis 1 like?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134582760 Nicole Hunter

      Bar Oasis 1 was spectacular in my opinion.  I believe they have a lite out, but I recommend it.  It was a spectacular story with beautiful art and music, though arguably short.  Check it out though.  

    • ang1ache1

      Cat, the first game was like a visual novel that integrated a sort of bartender-simulation gameplay design. A playthrough perhaps takes several hours and I felt compelled to play it through 3 times just because I enjoyed the ambiance, the art and the characters.
      You are literally a character behind the bar interacting with customers (you would sometimes get options for what to say that anger or placate them...or get them drunk!) and turning around to mix drinks. Many of the characters are colorful regulars with whom you begin to feel you are building a relationship with.
      The drink mixing gameplay might be considered somewhat repetitive and perhaps overly sensitive (ex. you tilt the iPhone to pour shots) but I really liked it.
      Oddly enough, the game in its original form was taken off the app store for quite a spell and I feared the developers were shuttered as well (maybe it was because the Apple censors freaked out over the sek-say stuff in the game, haven't needed to download the current version so no idea if there are *ahem* changes).
      In closing, the best compliment I can give this game is that I played it 3 times through and afterwards I wanted to be a bloody bartender (I actually DID start to play around with the spirits a bit) :p

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134582760 Nicole Hunter

    Wheeee can't wait for 2 to come out!!!  And I'm glad this got a great score, it deserves it.

    • ang1ache1

      I sure do love spamming myself across games I like.Anyway, I am wondering if the developers will flesh out the second game more, allow for more choices and more consequences, give the story a more dynamic feel. If priced cheap enough, the game might actually be conducive to an IAP system as well, each chapter having a different story arc and with different drink mixing skill requirements.
      Most of all, like the reviewer, I guess I would just like to be able to spend more time at this bar.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1134582760 Nicole Hunter

        Well, judging from what they've been talking about throughout development, probably not.  It's most likely going to be semi-linear like the first one they'll probably have some more choices and such though.  The IAP thing is interesting but, I also believe that that's not the current plan.   Who knows though :D

  • KevinLlama

    Wish it had iPad support

    • http://www.vitaltitles.com/ Nick

      Yeah I was just coming to see if this was Universal :(

  • ang1ache1

    Will. Freaking. Buy. 
    The original was an excellent and unique game experience that had a dash of utility...you could actually learn and memorize the recipes for many drinks (wasn't 100% accurate, but then again, recipes often differ depending who you ask!)If I may be so bold, it was one of the titles oh so long ago that sold me on what the iOS platform and its mobile devices could be...a lifestyle device where original software could be developed and obtained in a ludicrously cheap and convenient manner. Props also to Toucharcade for introducing it to me!

  • Michael Truong

    Bar Oasis 1 was sooooo good! I'm really looking forward to trying this and 2 out! :D

    Thanks for the review. Off to go and download it now.

  • r3d5

    I want to say. I've been playing this game for a while and it's been really refreshing. I can't think of a game that had a more interesting female protagonist.

Bar Oasis 1.5 Reviewed by Colette Bennett on . Rating: 4.5