I must say, after having played the first Apprentice game, I wasn’t expecting much of anything. The first Apprentice game was awkward and amateurish in its approach – it was hardly worth mentioning, so to speak. After having played through the entire game in an evening, I must say I’m pleasantly surprised. I’m not particularly impressed, but I am pleasantly surprised.

The Apprentice – Los Angeles (TA-LA) is a almost typical time management game in the vein of Diner Dash and Cake Mania. What it also tries to do is be BOTH of these games. The graphics are in the same style of <Snowy’s Lunch Rush, if you’ve played it, and both the animation and all the myriad skins are very well done. Since the tagline is “3 games in 1,” there are also 3 times as much graphic work that goes into this game, so you’re buying a whole lot of production value in this game. The music and sounds are very well polished as well. On a first look, this is a very nice looking game.

On top of this bit of eye candy, there are also multiple characters to choose from. Your character portrait as well as the actual in game character can be chosen so there is no more playing as Flo or Sandy. You can play as you. Every character who plays against you in the game – there is a slew of them – also has their own biographies and their exit lines. Although you wonder why so much work has been put into it since you never see them. What team? I feel like a one-woman army.

There are three different locations that upgrades without your intervention. They’re all beautifully made. The sushi restaurant plays like Cake Mania – if the cakes are only two layers deep. The other modes are basically the same, with minor differences. In the boutique you have to take the cash to the register and your customers will want to use a changing room. At the beach you need to keep track of a list of returns. Hollywood stage, the last stage, is essentially a combination of the sushi bar and the Beach shop.

However, beauty is only skin deep. TA-LA is possibly the most dumbed down time management game I have ever played next to Belle’s Beauty Boutique. Here are a few things that you might want to think about, and how they can take away from a game in this genre. In TA-LA:

  • Your character can only handle ONE thing at a time. One plate, one dress, one object.
  • There are no different customer types. All the differences are purely cosmetic.
  • If you make a mistake and throw away something, it will not take away points.
  • There are no power-up items to sate your customers’ impatience.
  • There is no color matching bonus. Your customers are seated for you.
  • There is also no chain-reaction bonus.
  • There is no reward system in between missions.

So what does that leave us? A click-fest, that’s what. The faster click and dragger wins the game. There is almost no strategy involved aside from trying to make your character move as little as possible. In making this game look so amazingly good, the developers have taken away pretty much everything that makes this genre fun. It also made it extremely easy for people of great mouse-dexterity (like me) and extremely hard for people who isn’t quite as fast.

If you enjoy a good click-fest, this might be the game for you. However, if you’re looking for the next Diner Dash or Cake Mania, you’re better off looking elsewhere. TA-LA has no violent elements, but it’s much for fast for little eyes and hands. The levels do not save mid-way so you’ll have to restart a level if you exit. It’s a 5 minute game that you’re likely to finish within a few hours.

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