While not perhaps as outstanding as Heroes of Kalevala HD or Sparkle HD, Miriel the Magical Merchant HD is nonetheless a very good game and one that will add a lot of variety to your TouchPad gaming.
Similar in concept and basic gameplay to titles like Diner Dash, the game places you in the shoes of Miriel, who runs the front of house for an eatery set in a world of myths and legends. That means that your customers are of the wizards, witches and princess variety but it also has an effect on the gameplay by allowing the use of magic.
The basic gameplay is a test of your own multitasking and time management abilities. Customers will walk up to your counter, and a speech bubble will appear over their heads telling you the food they want. Tapping a list at the bottom of the screen allows you to order basic food types, like water, milk, flour and the like, and after a few seconds the food you ordered will appear, one at a time. Tap the food you want and then take it to the customer, who will then pay you, and after you take the cash, another customer will appear repeating the process until closing time. There are a lot of additional complexities, as some of the food needs preparation, such as bread, which requires you to take flour and water to the oven, which then takes a few extra seconds to cook the loaf.
There are also baskets of fruit that is replenished automatically but can only ever have one at a time on order.
The panic is increased by the customers patience, represented by hearts above them, wearing thin after a few seconds. The longer you make them wait, the less they will pay you, or even walk out if you take too long. As the game is a race to get to the target score before closing time, it becomes a manic dash to get customers in and out while keeping them happy. You can hold several things at a time and its the se of this that will get you through. Miriel also has the use of magic to help her out. Serve customers fast enough and you build up your magic potion, and once you drink some, Miriel moves at high speed and all the cooking is almost instantaneous for a while. It is the key to getting the ‘Master’ score on each stage.
There are also a couple of little extras to help you out, such as sweets that return grumpy customers to full heart status, and a phonograph that, when played makes the customers pay more cash for orders.
Getting high scores is important, as it allows you to unlock new types of food and extra cooking devices and gadgets, as well as letting you hold more items at once. The upgrading is achieved through a cool little puzzle mini game. You choose which thing you want to buy or upgrade and the puzzle starts. It is a simple match three affair, but it can be a little tricky on the higher levels and it adds a great deal of variety and provides a break from the usual gameplay. In a nice touch, you are free to retry the puzzle as often as you like to get your upgrade.
The only problem with the game is its inherent repetitiveness, which 10 Tons has tried to address with all the upgrades and the mini game, but I still find that the nature of the game is more suited to short play bursts rather than long sessions due to this.
The graphics on display here are at least as good as the other 10 Tons games in the app catalog, which is to say bright, colourful and highly detailed with a whole load of character and great effects.
The music is a nice combination of jaunty tunes and Greensleeves style tracks. There is plenty of gameplay here, with a lot of levels to play through as you journey from place to place on the overworld map. Each area has different background graphics to keep you interested and there are always new types of customers to serve. The story is cleverly done as you get to choose Miriels responses to the events and characters. I’ll leave it up to you to find out how this affects the game.
There are a few nice extras here, such as the recipes to make the actual food in the game in your own kitchen. The puzzle mini game can also be played on its own and even has some options to set, adding a lot of extra content on it’s own. There are no achievements or leaderboards which is a bit of a let down.
Overall, a really good game, with a vibrant atmosphere and addictive, frantic gameplay. There is a tad too much repetition, made up for by the RPG elements and mini game, but I can recommend this title as one of the best early games on TouchPad.