Korean cartoon character Pucca has appeared in two downloadable games in the last few weeks: first there was WiiWare adventure Pucca's Kisses Game and now DSiWare has got its own cutesy noodle simulator with Pucca Noodle Rush. It may not be the tastiest dish on the DSiWare menu, but those with an appetite for restaurant-based time management titles may find it to their liking.
Playing the game is simple and controlled entirely with the stylus. You drag customers to a table, then tap to take away and give their menus, meals and empty plates, with speedy service netting you a tip from your diners; make them wait too long and they'll get angry, losing you a portion of your money. Naturally things start out very unchallenging with just a few easy-going customers, but eventually you'll find yourself juggling tables of demanding clients with specific needs.
With the Pucca universe of characters in tow, certain diners have individual foibles you'll need to take into consideration to succeed. Serving ninja Garu quickly will protect your restaurant from ninja attacks and Santa will clear plates away after your diners, but they're not all helpful: some characters get annoyed if not served first, others argue if seated close to particular characters. It all helps to keep things interesting and unpredictable, though it can be tough keeping track of who's who and what's what.
As you successfully feed your customers, you can use the money you earn to unlock new upgrades for your dining area: more tables, extra seats, fresh vegetables to gain you bonuses and more. You'll quickly find that speculating to accumulate is the name of the game, and purchasing new tables is the way to go, but as you're never sure what the next challenge will be it's difficult to plan accordingly.
The game only features a single-player story mode, though it comes in three difficulty levels, and your progress is automatically saved at the end of every short stage. The challenges themselves are ideally designed for quick bites of fun, but playing them back-to-back exposes the game's innate repetitiveness.
Basing the title on Pucca means it's got charm in spades, and seeing the titular girl plant a smacker on Garu's face will warrant the price of admission for fans of the cartoon. Sprites are well-drawn, with neat touches like splashes of sauce as hungry gourmands chow down on their noodles, though it's tough to deny that most of the time you're staring at a static restaurant. There are some catchy tunes to round out the package, with a few short samples, but nothing to write home about.
Pucca's Noodle Rush isn't the first title of its type on DSiWare, but it is one of the better choices for gamers who want a restaurant in their pocket wherever they go. It won't last forever, and in long sessions its repetitive nature grates a little, but stick to playing it in snack-sized portions and it tastes far better.