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Johnny's Payday Panic (3DS) artwork

Johnny's Payday Panic (3DS) review

"Gotta get the cash, gotta get the dough."

Time management is, at least in my experiences, one of those genres whose games can easily fall into two of three categories, either a boring, repetitive excursion that just plays it very safe, or one with such inane difficulty, that it becomes an unfair, joyless exercise. When giving Johnny's Payday Panic a shot, I hoped for a healthy dose of the third category: fun. But, in my quest to make Johnny a wealthy and popular man by serving at fast food joints, restaurants, and concessions, a hurdle smacked me almost instantly. His first job, working at an ice cream shop, moved at such a glacial pace, by placing the correct colored scoops in either a cup or a cone.

Thankfully, that issue came to a fierce halt once I was given a shift extension for my good deeds. From there, JPP immediately becomes a genuine challenge; customers clutter the upper screen with their orders, and you must mount scoops of various colors, serving them in time before they blow a fuse. Not such an easy task when specific customers with a lack of patience enter the fray, which forces you to do a bit of crowd control, risking forgoing customers that waited longer just to get the more demanding ones out sooner. Surprisingly, they get enraged quickly, and if you fail to fix one up in time, a hefty deduction from your experience meter occurs. Have this happen too many times, and gained abilities are taken away. All because a customer couldn't wait an extra two seconds.

So, like real life.

Serving procedures get progressively complex, too, such as pouring and mixing soup, then dunking noodles and toppings in swift succession, or hastily chopping meat and lettuce, then stuffing the right amount into a sandwich. Despite all this sounding overwhelming, JPP never becomes unbearable to the point of legitimate frustration. You will take your hits, and you might have a few brain freezes when remembering the right order, but it never feels like it's the game's fault when stuff like that happens. Special abilities obtained over time help combat the difficulty spike, such as being able to mix soup instantly, or speedily rotating a cupcake assembly line. However, speed and skill still factor in, as some abilities have a very brief, timed window to perform; that shortcut you wanted can transform into a train wreck if your concentration falters. I just wish they could've explained how to use certain abilities more clearly...

Though, the most notable surprise for me is how smooth JPP controls, and here's why: you can only do touch screen actions. That's not to say the 3DS has had an awful track record with touch controls, which is something I can't say about the Wii and its motion controls, but considering the fast-paced nature of the game, the devs had to be on point in this regard. But they work, from wiggling the stylus to cut meat, to moving objects to and fro, and doing a circular motion for mixing soup. It's not completely devoid of issues, as the screen won't read your actions if you're going at breakneck speeds with the stylus. But that gets a pass, since the controls function so well under the hasty nature of the game.

So many things could've gone wrong with JPP, such as sloppy mechanics, a boring pace, or terrible controls, but the game successfully overcomes these pitfalls. The only "major" knock against the game is that it's not the most original concept out there considering the amount of restaurant time management titles on the market. Not to mention... this game keeps reminding me of the Japan-only, PlayStation 1 game called Ore no Ryouri, which required the use of the Dual Shock analog sticks to prepare food. However, Johnny's Payday Panic excels where it matters the most, by delivering an enjoyable, challenging, speedy pick-up-and-play romp that's mostly ideal for killing some time.


pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (January 05, 2016)

Fun fact: I accidentally knocked over a table while playing SUPERHOT VR. Twice.

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Roto13 posted January 05, 2016:

Consider the Anarchy Reigns reference in this review's blurb noticed and appreciated.
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pickhut posted January 05, 2016:

I legitimately thought no one would get the reference, so consider me shocked when you pointed it out so quickly. xD

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