Kids like me that were obsessed with Diner Dash in the early 2000s might want to consider picking up Lemon Cake, a game that has you manage and grow your own bakery.
You do remember Diner Dash, right? It’s still around in mobile form but back in the day this restaurant sim was the Flash game of all Flash games. Against the clock, you’d rush around your diner, serving people, cleaning up after them, and getting them to their seats as quickly as you could. Lemon Cake takes off some of the pressure, but in many ways, it scratches the same itch. You’re taking people’s orders, bringing them their food of choice, then cleaning up after them. Essentially, it’s a more cozy version of Diner Dash. And who doesn’t love a cozy game these days?
To begin with, your Lemon Cake bakery is rather basic. You can serve only three baked goods, and you can only seat two guests at once. But as you play you’ll earn money, and that money can be used to buy upgrades. Put in a window display, for example, and guests will be able to pick up a bread roll or croissant without you needing to do anything. Eventually, you’ll unlock more recipes too, requiring more ingredients.
Every item in Lemon Cake needs to be baked by you, and that means having a range of ingredients to hand. Flour is all you need for a basic bread roll, but a sweet cinnamon bun, for example, requires flour and sugar. Throw chocolate-based goods into the mix, and you’ll need to make use of a cocoa tree that grows just beyond your kitchen. The same goes for strawberries and other fruit-based bakes – you’ll need to grow your own. But you’ll need to unlock them first.
In the early stages, progression in Lemon Cake can feel rather slow. You don’t earn that many coins for a hard day’s work, and your first few days will see you net only 20 or 30 coins. When meaningful upgrades quickly cost upwards of 100 or 200 coins, it can be rather disheartening. But as you progress, expanding into more complex bakes and serving more customers at any one time, you’ll soon see your profits increase.
That does mean, of course, that Lemon Cake can be rather repetitive. You’re basically running back and forth, grabbing the right ingredients and throwing it all together. It can get hectic when you get to more complicated recipes, and god forbid you grab something you weren’t supposed to. Your bakery owner can somehow only manage to carry one item at a time. So unless you’ve got a spare surface to put something down on, your hard work may well have to go in the trash simply because you haven’t got a spare hand.
When you’re not baking, you’ll also have to keep your kitchen clean, keep your oven lit and ensure you’re cleaning up after customers. There’s always something to do and while customers’ patience timers are rather lenient to begin with, it is easy to get overwhelmed as you progress. But then that’s half the fun of this sort of game: it’s all about learning to manage what’s thrown at you.
Don’t expect Lemon Cake to blow you away. Management sims come much better and more sophisticated than this elsewhere. But if you like to keep things simple and have fond memories of playing the likes of Diner Dash, then this will scratch that nostalgic itch deep inside of you. Sure, it’s repetitive, but sometimes a straightforward, goal-oriented game to switch off with is all we need.