Aliasworlds have been really churning out the good looking time management games lately – The Apprentice Los Angeles (essentially 3 games in one) comes to mind. One thing that really stood out in Los Angeles was the massive production value – beautiful graphics, tons of animations, rich cell-shaded 3D graphics. Another thing that I remember was the length of the game, namely that it was short. Turbo Pizza is another one of these games – pretty, clickaholic, short.

Turbo Pizza is essentially a Cake Mania clone. Your character serve customers by baking pizza from raw ingredients, serve ice cream, dessert and pop. It’s all very standard. Actually, it’s not only standard, but like The Apprentice: Los Angeles, overly simplified. There are 3 types of ingredients to go into pizzas, and you can only use one at a time; you can’t stack them. There are two flavours of ice cream prepared the same way. Pop and dessert are basically the same thing, with different graphics. Customers all look different but act the same, with different patience levels. At the end of each level, you’ll be presented with a “buy” screen where you can get more ovens, faster move times, faster cook times, etc. On the surface, it feels like Cake Mania. After you dive in for a bit, you’ll see that it’s very much striped down.

There is ONE mini-game in Turbo Pizza that is actually quite a lot of fun. You have to make pizzas matching those in the recipes (represented graphically, not a list of ingredients) with ingredients coming down a conveyor. Unfortunately, you only get to play it twice. It’s also the same mini-game (same pizzas) both times that you get to play it.

There are aspects to the time management genre that must be addressed. Your character should move at a reasonable speed, and certain actions should take time to perform. Having these “times” to work around, we thus “manage” it. “Customer” types are also very important. In the classic time management games, what really made games like Cake Mania and Diner Dash stand out from the crowd was that the customers interacted with one another. It gave them personally and made them different. Also, the time limits a customer place on the player is variable – they can be appeased if we’re really pressed for time. These elements made the time management genre more than just a series of clicks. These elements made the player think about how best to approach the level.

Turbo Pizza, like the case of Los Angeles, threw all these ideas out the window. Gone are the slow waiting times, customer types (purely superficial and based upon a timer) and time bonuses. Gone too, with them, the strategic element that made time management games worth playing. All that’s left, really, is to click around the screen matching colors of ice creams and shapes of ingredients. Technically, each level presents a different sort of challenge, with different customer types. In reality, however, every level plays pretty much the same way – business men and women can wait, everyone else can’t. Stack your orders to chain bonuses. That’s it.

Graphically, Turbo Pizza is like the other cell-shaded 3D games. Snowy Lunch Rush and The Apprentic: Los Angeles. it’s very impressive looking cell-shaded 3D that should run smoothly on any mid-range computer. It’s downright gorgeous. The music isn’t bad either, though I wish for more variety since it all sound like one big midi tune.

There are technically 50 levels – 10 stages of 5 each. But it feels like two big stages of 25 each since there are only 2 different restaurants and they play exactly the same way with different main ingredients and decor. It does seem to go awful quickly – if you’re decent at color matching and fast-clicking, you can easily finish every stage on expert without repeating anything once. Is it worth it? That depends. Games that are fast-clicking involving little thinking also tend to be the additive ones. So if you find the graphics compelling enough and it’s challenging enough for you, it’s really not a bad game to play through. However, if you yearn for more strategic level design, just load up Cake Mania and play that again.