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Publisher: PlayFirst    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 32 MB    Graphics: 800x600

The Great Chocolate Chase
March 19, 2009 | Richard Hallas

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The Great Chocolate Chase
Chocolate: who doesn't love it? There can't be many people for whom the sight of a well-presented box of chocolates doesn't hold considerable temptation. Chocolate isn't just a kind of food; it's luxury and decadence in comestible form. Chocolates aren't just sweets; they're expressions of artistry and discernment in an ephemeral experience of pleasure. To eat a box of high-quality chocolates is to explore a word of subtle sensations in flavour and texture, and the packaging of the chocolates, which should complement the delicacies themselves in terms of good taste and refinement, is an important part of the equation.

It is the holistic appeal of a box of chocolates that the Chocolatier series of games attempts to embody. Unfortunately, neither the USB Tastebud Stimulator nor the Bluetooth Browntongue has been invented yet, so games about chocolate are regrettably impotent in their ability to cause the player to salivate for anything other than visual reasons. Nevertheless, on the principle that people's eyes are often bigger than their bellies, and that imaginative anticipation can often count for more than actual experience, chocolate-based games can go a long way towards providing the enjoyment of high-class chocolates without actually allowing the player to physically eat anything.

There must be some truth in the theory, anyway, because the Chocolatier games have been successful enough to spawn three strategy titles and one action spin-off, all without getting their producers sued for saliva-saturated monitors or bitten-off keyboards.

And All Because...
The Great Chocolate Chase is the product of a fusion of characters and other ingredients from the expanding series of Chocolatier strategy games (now a trilogy) with a sequence-based action game in the style of Diner Dash. Much more story-driven than is the norm for a casual action game of this type, it follows Evangeline Baumeister in her early-20th-Century quest to create chocolates around the world.

The basic idea is to create chocolates and serve them to customers over a total of sixty levels spread across six locations. Up to six customers at a time will appear around the counter area: show each one a menu and they will choose one or two items from it, and you must serve them before they get bored and storm off in a huff. A seventh 'customer' takes the form of a telegraphic automated ordering system which, when fulfilled, calls a small dirigible to come and take the order away; this is more patient than most customers and can thus be treated with greater disdain.

At the earliest stages you'll have just two items to offer your customers: bottles of chocolate sauce, which can be served directly but take time to refill, and simple, unadorned bars of plain chocolate. As the game progresses the range of options increases greatly, and you'll have dark, milk and white chocolate to play with and be able to combine it with three optional flavourings. The resulting plain or flavoured chocolates can then be shaped in three ways and have three different toppings added, or you can turn unflavoured chocolate into three types of infusion, again with a choice of up to three toppings.

Evangeline can deal with two chocolates at a time (one in each hand) and there's an optional storage area to hold one or two spare items. Make a mistake such as adding the wrong topping and you'll either have to throw the chocolate away or, in later levels, pop it on the free-giveaway conveyor belt in the hopes that it will pacify one of your increasingly angry customers. The customers come in several varieties, with some being extremely impatient.

After every level there's an instalment in the diary-based story, and some levels feature an additional objective to aim for (for example, don't lose any customers or don't waste any items), which, if achieved, will produce some kind of reward. There's also an upgrade shop that appears between levels in which you can purchase, with the money you've accumulated during the game so far, various bonuses. These consist of power-ups (such as faster movement or bigger tips for Evangeline), upgrades (better and faster chocolate machines) and simple decoration improvements for the chocolate shop.


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