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Eric Heimburg
Do these one-liners make me look fat?

Pizza Frenzy

Click to drag pizzas onto the appropriate pizza shop.


Overview

This is a pretty simple game. Pizza customers request pizzas, which then show up as icons over their homes. You then click those icons and drop them onto the pizza shop that makes this type of pizza. Three game modes:

One other feature of note: every few levels, a mini-game appears where you must decorate a pizza crust to look like a prefabricated pizza. The "pizza designer" feature reuses this mechanic, but allows you to create free-form pizzas. You can sell these "specialty pizzas" from in-game stores, replacing normal one-topping pizzas. Apparently you get better tips from specialty pizzas, but itís a stretch to call this a deep mechanic. Creating your own pizzas is vaguely entertaining, though, if you're feeling hungry.

Fun Factor: Pretty boring. I wanted to like it, but it couldnít hold my attention.
Pacing: Sluggish. The main game (Speed Mode) doesnít get harder than 'moderately easy', as far as I can tell. The other game modes donít seem to ramp up very fast either, but they at least start out a bit more difficult.
Story: Framing story only. 'Restore the family honor by delivering pizzas.'

User Interface

Very simple, although colorful. The menus are bare-bones.

I found the "Save and Quit" button on the in-game pause menu to be somewhat confusing because if you choose it, it then asks you if you really want to save, or just quit without saving. Also, it doesnít quit the game completely (of course); it just brings you to the main menu. So just a "Save and Exit" with no further prompting would have been better.

One side-effect of the Flash implementation: pop-up windows can't actually be moved -- they aren't real windows.

Menus: Non-animated menus and screens
Pre-Game Instructions: A long slide-show explains the premise and what you're supposed to be doing.
In-Game Tutorial: Yes. A few brief tips to get you started, and more tips when new mechanics are added to gameplay every few levels.
Other Instructions: None
Save Game: Yes, auto-save.
Player Profiles: Typical
Alt+Tab Works: Yes
Alt+Enter Works: No
Lefty Swapped Mouse: Yes

Art

Very simple stuff here, but there's a good variety of levels for such a small game.

Backgrounds: The various levels for Pizza Frenzy are made up of component parts. There are street-grid blocks, island blocks, little boats, and so on. The pieces look fairly mundane, but at least this block-level flexibilty means they can change the level layout very often.
Game Pieces: More small 2D art pieces. They look fine, and the characterizations of the various callers are especially good.
Fonts: Stock, readable fonts. Some in-game pop-up text has additional Photoshop effects applied to it.

Sound

Well, it's a pizza game. So you can guess how it sounds.

Music: The music is 'stereotypical Italian'. It doesnít seem to change. It's acceptable, but not actually exciting or interesting.
Sound Effects: These are mostly fine. A little cartoony (some slide-whistles, for instance), but they donít stand out at all. A couple of sound effects are awkward, though: when people call in orders, you hear them saying "Hello" over the phone. These have varying quality levels, and it sounds pretty plausible while youíre playing the Speed Game. In the Simon Says game, however, they start you off with only two different customers, and they picked the customers with the crappiest sounding "Hello." This mode sounds really terrible for the first few levels! Very noticeable.

Technical

Resolution (Windowed): 800x600
Resolution (Full Screen): 800x600
Quality Settings: None
Cursors: Hardware cursor only
Engine: Flash wrapped in a Win32 wrapper (not PopCap's wrapper; perhaps homemade)
Size Downloaded: 5.88 MB
Size Installed: 8.8 MB
System Requirements: Pentium II 350 MHz
128 MB of RAM.
Windows 98, ME, 2000, or XP with DirectXģ 7 or later
Sound: DirectXģ certified sound card
Video: 16-bit or 32-bit ("256 Colors may not work")

Miscellaneous

Developer: Sprout
Distributer: PopCap, possibly others (published by GameHouse)
Credits In Game: No (in readme.html file instead)

Links and Reviews

Credits

Programming:
Ed Allard
Joe Mobley
James Gwertzman

Art:
Kathy Anderson

Game/Level Design:
James Gwertzman
Del Chafe
Ed Allard

Animation:
Rick McCann

Sound/Music:
Guy Whitmore

Fun Fact Research:
Maggie Tai Tucker

With additional contribution from GameHouse, Inc.:
Rodney Bambao
Derrick Morton
Chance Warner
Teagen Densmore
Brandon Godfrey
Chuck Little
Kazunori Sasakura

Screen Shots


Loading screen. This is completely static, except for the percentage-complete meter. No game music plays during load. It feels a bit eerie.


Main menu. Note the "Design Your Own Pizzas" menu option, which is locked. You can still click this button! (The button depresses, while the little lock stays in place). If you click it, you get the screen below.


What you see if you click the locked "Design Your Own Pizzas" button from the main menu. You unlock this feature pretty early in the game (within the first 30 minutes of play in Speed Mode).


The screen shown if you click "See Your Pizza Toppings" from the main menu


Part of the gameís intro story. The story is told via a series of static shots. The picture in the background and the character portraits fade in and out as the story is told; this is the only animation here.


Nearing the end of the gameís intro story. We are finally told what to do via a couple of quick scenes. Note that this part of the intro is different for each of the three game modes.


An early game screen. The little boats float along. Little cars run out from the pizza shops to the homes (automatically delivering the pizzas).


When you beat a level in Speed Mode (and only in Speed Mode), a blimp comes by and drops bags of money, which you can click to earn.


Another game world. Note the character talking. The game has a large number of specialized characters which have slight rules variations. Some must be delivered to the jail (a location on the game map); most, though, only affect gameplay indirectly, such as this man who gives good tips, or the gossipy woman who gets other people to change their orders.


Bonus Mode intro screen. Completely static. Feels like some movement could really have helped here, but at least the screen doesnít last long.


Here I am putting toppings on a pizza in Bonus Mode. The semi-transparent anchovie is under my cursor. (You canít see the cursor because itís a hardware cursor, and doesnít get included in the screen shot.)


Iíve completed a Bonus Mode pizza. Little words pop up for each topping placed. Then the pizza scrolls away and itís on to the next one.


Iíve unlocked the Pizza Designer feature. Now I can create random pizzas and stock my stores with them, instead of with normal pizza toppings. Woo?


Before each level, I get to fill my shops with the topping of my choice. Notice the bottom two entries are actually specialty pizzas I made with the Pizza Designer. I didnít remember to name them, so they are 'Untitled' pizza. I can drag them into trucks to replace one of the toppings I normally use (cheese or pepperoni). Note also that this manís speech bubble is larger than necessary... about 35% larger than necessary. Probably for localization, or just because they use the same bubbles over and over.


What the game looks like while paused. One weird thing: if I click Save and Quit, it then asks me if I want to Quit, Save and Quit, or keep playing. Why offer me these choices after I already picked Save and Quit?


Scoreboard. Note that there is internet best-of functionality (last 24 hours only) for each of the three game modes, and then those up/down arrows are useful. But in local scoreboard mode, those arrows donít do anything.


If you start a new game after having beaten some levels, this screen lets you choose a starting level.


Choose-User screen. Once it scrolls onto screen (from top of screen), it cannot be moved around ... not a true dialog. (This shouldnít be considered a flaw, though, since really, who cares.)


The Options screen.


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