iPad Game Review: Cafe International (Universal) Review
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Cafe International is an iOS adaptation of the 1989 German Boardgame of the same name. Gameplay consists of seating as many international patrons as possible, while conforming to the rules of seating. While the concept is simple, forming a winning strategy will take cunning, skill, and a bit of luck.
Cafe International puts you in charge of seating 100 customers from 12 different countries in an international cafe. This is not as easy as it sounds because the customers are very picky about who they'll sit next to. This manifests itself as an easily understood (but difficult to master) set of seating rules that must be followed at all times. Certain nationalities cannot be seated next to other certain nationalities, all tables must have gender parity, and nobody can be seated at a table from another country. Any given seat in the cafe may find itself next to 1-3 seats from other tables, which means that some seats will be easy to fill, while others will require some very careful planning. If you are presented with a customer tile that you can't seat at a table, you can place him/her at the bar. The game ends when you fill up the bar, fill up the tables, reduce the size of your hand to zero, or only 4 tiles are left. Each game lasts around 10-minutes. Points are scored based on your ability to seat your customers at tables, with various bonuses being awarded for completeness.
Cafe International has 3 game modes: solo, classic (2-4 players), and Timed. Currently, Cafe International supports only single player (either in solo mode or with AI players in Classic and Timed) and pass-and-play multiplayer, although online multiplayer is planned. Each game will last from 10-15 minutes, making it ideal for us mobile gamers with poor attention spans. Cafe International supports Game Center for high scores and achievements.
The graphics of Cafe International are lighthearted and cartoonish and are clearly reproductions from the circa 1989 boardgame. If you are easily offended by stereotyped cultural caricatures then you may want to give Cafe International a pass. The images aren't intended to be offensive; it's just that they don't exactly conform to 21st century sensibilities, and some of the exaggerated traits/features are somewhat out of date. If you can get past this, however, Cafe International looks great on both an iPhone and an iPad (it is fully retina-enabled), and the gameplay is nicely animated, giving it a real sense of polish.
The music of Cafe International has a European feel to it, and I found myself enjoying it far longer than I expected to. The sound effects are subtle (as they should be in a boardgame) but of very high quality.
In-App Purchases (IAPs)
Refreshingly, Cafe International currently offers no in-app purchases.
Cafe International is a solid iOS remake of a popular Euro Boardgame from the 1980s. Gameplay is easily understood, but the strategy is deep, which should keep you coming back to this one for a while. While the caricatures of the international customers are dated and overly stereotypical, there is clearly no intent to offend or belittle, so if you can get past them, you are likely to enjoy the game for a good long while.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3 - The graphics look good, but the stereotyped caricatures may be off-putting to some. Sound: - 4 - A good use of music and sound effects, that add nicely to the game's charm and personality. Controls: - 5 - A great, and surprisingly uncluttered interface, considering how much information is displayed. Gameplay: - 4.5 - A fun remake of a classic boardgame, with lots of replayability.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Give yourself a few games to get the hang of it. Don't be shy about asking for a clue during gameplay. Be sure to select the Novice setting when playing the AI until you get the hang of it (the game defaults to Standard).