Nanny Mania can best be described as The Sims meet Diner Dash. To those who have played The Sims before, remember that maid you used to be able to call on to take care of your messes everyday? You become that maid. And your household is a maximum of six Sims who have their cleanliness bars set to 0. The level (it’s the same level with an ever expanding set of furniture and rambunctious children) is your typical Sims house, isometrically viewed. There are a number of things you can click on and clean, as well as multiple-step tasks such as laundry and feeding the baby.

The goal for each level is to turn chaos into order. Each level you’re presented with a house where laundry is thrown every which way in every room (including the kitchen), unmade beds, dirty aquariums, open wardrobes and the like. With a few fast and furious mouseclicks, and in less than 3 minutes, you are to clean up everything – do the laundry, make dinner, feed and change the baby, make all the beds and achieve order. Sounds like work? Nope. It’s actually really addictive fun.

Each set of levels will present you with something just a little different – but within each chapter all the levels are basically the same, with laundry in different places. As your advance in chapters, the household will get more babies, and those babies will become toddlers, and then those tots will in turn become children and then teens. The house will change to reflect this; the nursery becomes a library, an empty room houses two children’s beds, a side room becomes a princess’ room.

Nanny moves at a steady clip, but you can speed her up even more by going over to the kitchen and chugging down a mug of coffee. Otherwise, the usual time management skills apply here: trying to find the shortest distance between two points and making use of “down-time” as machines do their work will become the chief strategy. The game never gets challenging enough to hold you back – you get 3 lives to keep your score, and I never ONCE lost one. I got the perfect goal every single level without having to redo any one of them.

I had a lot of fun with this game, though it is not without its flaws; certain parts of the game feels unfinished. There are a lot of things in the house that you area allowed to click on – the wing chair, the entertainment system, the hat tree, etc – that aren’t used in the game. They’re there, and I kept expecting the game to utilize them in the later levels, but they NEVER do. Also, you’re technically allowed to cancel the queue by clicking the right mouse button, but even if you do and you choose a new object, your character would walk to the next object in your old queue anyway.

Also, there are technically 150 levels, but really there are only 50. You get three characters, but they work exactly the same way. So when you’re done with the nanny, all you can really do is do the same 50 levels again with mom, then with dad. Since part of the nanny’s job is to clean up the tub after mom and mop up the mud that dad drags in from golfing, the mom and dad portions of the game are actually easier than the nanny portion.

The graphics in Nanny mania is simply wonderful – the characters are rendered 3D sprites that jump, giggle, eat, and have all sorts of different animations. Since there are so many animations for these things, one starts to wonder why there is only ONE animation for cleaning up. It all looks like nanny is frantically changing a diaper on everything. The sounds are fitting and well done; from the cry of the baby to the giggles of the children, it’s all very believable.

Nanny Mania is a well-done, addictive time management game that feels just a little rushed when it came to level design, but definitely worth buying if you belong to the gameclub. $6.99, yes. $20, no. It just doesn’t have that kind of replayability, as finishing the game in its entirety already means playing it three times. Doing the first 50 levels took me an hour and a half.

Bottom line: Good time management game, a bit on the easy side, and the levels could’ve used more time in development. Who knows? Maybe there’ll be an expansion pack. Or extra levels for download later.

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