Supermarket Management Review (Android)
Written by Craig Will (puffkix) Thursday, 11 August 2011 11:00
Over the last couple months I've noticed a new type of game emerging almost exclusively on the smartphone market. These games focus on management skills and the ability to strategically queue up actions to maximize profits and customer satisfaction. My first taste of this was with Airport Mania and soon after that came Pretty Pet Salon and then Delicious. While these game aren't as deep as console offerings they do manage to spice up gameplay and really satisfy my desire for fresh content on mobile platforms. The latest game in this genre is Supermarket Management.
Supermarket Management tells the story of a young girl fresh out of college as she tries to scramble up the chain of command in the supermarket store that recruited her. The story is a little silly and like a cliche believe-in-yourself movie, but honestly, who cares about the story of an Android game? It really comes down to three things: Accessibility, Gameplay, and Time. If a game on my phone wants me to really get into it then it needs to be easy enough to learn (it can be difficult to master but I want to be able to pick it up and know what I'm doing), have interesting and new gameplay that's easy to control and offers fun. I do not want the game to require me to sit down for a half hour at a time in order to get anywhere.
Because I've played other similar games it was easy to hop right in to SM and know what to do, but even if I hadn't been familiar with the style of gameplay there would have been very little problem thanks to the first level. Basically an interactive tutorial, the first level has you learning the ropes as the game pauses whenever your boss has something to teach to you and in order to move on you just have to do whatever it is he's telling you to do. The game starts out simple enough having you stock shelves, push carts, tend the cash register, and sometimes point customers to the correct product, but as the game goes on some new objects become available such as selling products by weight (cheese, fish, etc.). Accessibility is not an issue in this game and in fact the game gets progressively harder to ensure that you use all the tips that are given to you.
While SM isn't a leap forward in gameplay innovation (unless you haven't played other games like it), it does offer more than most of those other games. There are enough actions to perform to keep you really thinking about the best order to queue them all up and it can be a real challenge to try and keep all your customers as happy as they can be (you don't want to keep them waiting or they'll become unhappy). Overall it feels like all the best qualities of previous time management games rolled into one package; the queue actions you build are numbered to show what order they are going to happen in (so you don't forget), you can cancel an action if something else needs to take priority (such as customers at the counter), certain actions are more interactive than just watching and waiting (the weight counter has you slide your finger over each product to determine what the customer wants based on their expression), and there's enough strategy here to really keep you interested. And for all the perfectionists out there: there's a goal of customers served and money made within a certain time limit. If you want the expert score (and trophy) then you gotta be fast and efficient while keeping all your customers happy.
After each level you will be given the opportunity to purchase upgrades with credits you earn for doing well. Thing like: more shelf space, faster movement speed, more carts, etc. Conveniently, the game reccomends what the next upgrade purchase should be by marking the item with a red "reccomended."
The ability to pick up and play for 5 to 10 minutes at a time and still make progress is what really sets the mobile gaming world apart from the console arena and SM does very well at keeping things moving. Lots of techniques and actions are introduced and utilized throughout the gameplay but I have yet to spend more than three minutes on any given level. This is exactly what a mobile gaming experience should be. Fast, fun, and challenging for all the right reasons. Pick up the trial for free on the Android marketplace and if you like it purchase it in-app. The full version includes 49 levels, 4 different shops, over 13 upgrades, 9 mini-games, 3 assistants to hire, and 3 additional special-task counters. It's also available on iPhone, iPad, and Mac.