What is the first thing you imagine when you arrive on a tropical island? Would you like to sit on the beach and relax your mind to let go of the stress from the cities? Or is your dream to build your cafe on the seaside? Dream no longer, this is Seaside Cafe Story, a casual simulation cafe management game from Jakarta-based Studio Namaapa (makers of Ciel Fledge).
Back when I was a kid, I remember playing a clicker mini-game from Gamehouse. Yes, I’m talking about Diner Dash. For some of you who played it before, Seaside Cafe Story will make you feel a bit nostalgic because it has a few similarities with Diner Dash’s time-management gameplay where every second counts.
In the story, you start as an initial member of the Cooking Guild. To pass the trial test and become an official member, you must establish your cafe on a remote and deserted beach of Nusakana, a tropical island for vacation located far to the south. Later, you will receive a mission to find a long lost legendary recipe. Nusakana is also the title of Seaside Cafe Story’s prequel. But do not worry, it is not mandatory to play it because Seaside Cafe Story is more of a spin-off sequel.
You will establish your cafe from a single street food cart which, in Indonesian, it is translated as Gerobak. In the beginning, you will start with three dishes namely fried rice, fried banana, and lemon tea. There are three types of dishes in this game which are main dish, side dish, and beverages coming in the variations of savory, sweet, and exotic. Each menu has different types and flavors. Later on, when the research feature is unlocked. You can research and unlock new recipes. Each recipe can be researched for one up to three days of in-game time depending on what type of dishes you require. Each day you can put up to nine dishes on your menu when you open your cafe.
Every customer has different preferences. Your task is to choose the right menu for each of the customer groups. Depending on the weather, every customer will request different dishes. Remember, not all customers can read the menu and tell directly what they wanted to order, you will have to think about what they might want. Every second counts, of course, you cannot please every customer, whether because they are waiting for too long or you prepare the wrong dish. When the queue bar turns empty, the customer will leave and your reputation will drop. Sometimes, when you are running out of ingredients or the customer asks for unavailable menus, you can tell them directly it is unavailable. Of course, it will drop your reputation as well. It is a necessary thing to do, better than giving them the wrong food, right
There are no goal limits on how much money you should earn each day. Each day, you have 3 hours to open your cafe. Before you open shop, there are two game modes that you can choose which are Chef Mode and Manager Mode. When you use Chef Mode, you have direct control, interact with customers manually and you can choose what to cook for your customers. While Manager Mode is a mode where you can only observe your cafe like a real manager or to put it on autopilot. Both modes have their pros and cons. For example, in Chef Mode you will earn more reputation but you may feel more pressure because you directly manage and control everything. Manager Mode is helpful if you want to observe your cafe without controlling it, but you cannot choose the food and you will earn less reputation than in Chef Mode. Eventually, you will play both modes. When you’re feeling up for it, you can choose Chef Mode. But if you want to relax, I would recommend you to use Manager Mode.
In the process, you can upgrade your skills to cook faster, whether you’re cooking the main dish/side dish, or making the beverages. You can upgrade the queue time for the customers so they can wait longer in the line. When you’re able to explore the whole island. You can hire assistants that can help you in the cafe but will not work for free. But they are useful because you cannot always be working alone, right? Each assistant has different skills. You can have two assistants each day. Make sure you have enough money first before hiring an assistant.
One of the interesting parts is that you can close your business earlier whenever you feel it was enough for a day. Strategy-wise, it is useful to make sure the dishes are available for the next day. Before you open your cafe, you have to check the ingredients and restock the required ingredients for the menu to make sure they are available to make the dishes. Every day, you can buy all of the ingredients in the local market. Bear in mind, every ingredient has a limited quantity so you should manage your ingredients carefully. If they are sold out on the local market, there is an option to buy them in the import market but it will cost more money. Don’t worry, the local market will always restock all ingredients every two days. You can increase the price of your menu or you can decrease the price as well. If the dish is popular, the customers won’t mind paying a higher price.
As you progress, you can upgrade your cafe from a single street food cart and add tables and chairs, or decorations like plants. The most important thing is to build a shack and change the floors, windows, even roofs to customize your cafe. Each decoration can attract a variety of different customer groups. There are three customer classes which are lower class, middle class, and high class. You can add special decorations that will attract lower class customers, but then high class customers won’t be interested to come to your cafe or vice versa.
Like its prequel Nusakana, this game is influenced by Indonesian cultures and language. For example, sometimes the customers will say ”Terima Kasih” when successfully served, which means ”Thank You” in Indonesian. You will also find the Indonesian word ”Dukuns” which is meant to be a person that uses dark ritual magics. Specifically, some of the dishes are based on Indonesian cuisine like fried rice and peanut sauce salad. In Indonesia, those dishes are called Nasi Goreng and Lotek or Gado-Gado.
Graphics-wise, Seaside Cafe Story is a great upgrade from its prequel title Nusakana. This game is mixing anime style with 2.5D pixelated art which looks beautiful. However, players should keep in mind that the game is only playable with low graphic settings when run on a PC with the recommended minimum specs.
Overall, I enjoyed the game even with the lowest graphics setting and will continue to play it in the future. If you like restaurant management simulation games with relaxing backgrounds, this game might be for you. The price is worth the quality as well. Would you like to build a cafe for lower class tourists, become insanely rich by catering to the upper class, or just serve everyone alike? All this is possible in Seaside Cafe Story!