Thursday, December 20

Review: Cake Laboratory [Nintendo Switch eShop]


While many people would like to think of the Switch as a hardcore gaming platform for more serious players its portability and touchscreen capabilities also make it an excellent choice for casual gamers. While typically the more casual fare has been focused on puzzles of some kind, more action-oriented games have been cropping up recently. Cake Laboratory has a very simple and straightforward goal through its 50 levels… stack cakes and don’t let them fall. While seasoned gamers will likely find it too easy and a bit pointless for parents searching for a game that their younger gamers-to-be can play this has aspects that make it an excellent choice.


There are really two aspects to the game, the stacking game itself and then customizing your own cakes. Stacking is quite simple mechanically, a set of hands will move across the screen and when you either press the button or touch your screen the cake will be dropped. Early on all of the cakes are of the bigger variety so this isn’t too tough, but as you progress a variety of medium and even pretty small cakes will get introduced into the mix, forcing you to be more accurate. If you don’t manage to line things up well enough you’ll get another chance for a small score penalty but anything further and your tower of cakes will topple. While over the course of the levels the challenge will slowly increase that’s the extent of the game’s action.


As you make your way through levels you’ll then gain new elements and options for the design mode where you’ll get to layer together 3 different components (the base cake, icing, and toppings) to make your own custom cakes that will then show up in the main game. Again, for more seasoned gamers this may feel pretty pointless but as a break and for some creative fun more casual players or kids could enjoy this touch. Especially for kids when their creations show up in the proper game itself a form of customization should be a nice thrill.


Let there be no doubt, the game feels like its target audience is younger gamers who can’t handle something more complex than one-button controls and a very focused experience. It reminds me a bit of games my daughters would play tied to educational or kid-focused sites, but more refined and a bit more fun. While I’ll admit I began to play with stacking the cakes in increasingly impractical ways from a physics standpoint to see if I could turn the gentle in-game sway of the cakes as the towers would get taller the fact that I couldn’t topple them was fine. Putting myself in the mindset of playing with one of my kids that sway could be a fun source of tension, with the cakes so close to falling over but they manage to pull through. For what it was intended to do, even if not terribly ambitious, Cake Laboratory seems to hit its mark quite effectively.


Score: 7

Pros:
  • A budget-friendly and appropriately priced title for younger gamers-to-be
  • It has simplicity, creativity, and just enough challenge to push them but is generally focused on rewarding success
  • The cake designs being used in the game and the subtle sway of the tower are great touches

Cons:
  • Outside of the target audience there’s likely little to be excited about
  • The 50 levels very slowly layer on the challenge but it never gets terribly hard, though that’s the intent