Capcom Mobile has recently launched a new title for the iPhone and iPad that, like what we’ve been seeing on Facebook, takes an established gaming category and puts a bizarre twist on it. Zombie Café, a free-to-play simulation comes with all the elements that social gamers have come to know, while still managing to toss in a few newer ideas…. Ideas such as infecting guests, turning them into zombies, then have your hordes attack other non-player restaurants.
With the success of their Smurfs’ Village title, it’s no doubt that Capcom is seeking a repeat performance with Zombie Café. Of course, this time around, the target audience is probably a bit different.
The basics are all very simple. Working similar to Café World. Players prepare dishes that take varying amounts of time — from two minutes to over a day — to cook (the longer the prep time, the greater the value), and so long as the user returns in time, they will be able to serve them to a countertop where waiters will distribute the finite amount of servings to hungry guests. Yes, as one might expect, if one doesn’t return in time, the food will “burn” and become useless unless salvaged with virtual currency (“Toxins”).
Regardless, in order to be successful in one’s restaurant business, it becomes critical to hire some helping hands. That’s where the zombies come into play. Unlike other social games of this ilk, friends are not the primary work force. As guests file in to eat their meals, users can infect them to become the undead. After being zombified, these patrons will work at serving guests, washing dishes, and cooking meals. That said, each zombie has a set amount of energy, and must rest for extended periods of time in order to recharge.
As for any other basics, as users serve patrons and decorate their virtual space, the star rating of the restaurant will increase, thus attracting more customers. It’s actually kind of ironic considering the gruesome nature of the food (e.g. Dishwater Soup). Anyway, should there be no food, or service takes too long, that rating will decline.
What is interesting, is that each character that visits has its own sort of personality. With this, there are varying strengths and weaknesses in that some will earn bigger tips, while others must be watched so they don’t attack the guests or daydream. Unfortunately, this is part of the vagueness of the game. A lot of the descriptions are very general, and were it not for the game’s help section, we’d have never been the wiser of these elements as the game doesn‘t inform players of them until it randomly happens. It’s not a huge deal, but it is certainly a different element to the game. Moreover, it could add meaning to who players “hire” in the long term. In fact, depending on how good a potential “employee” might be, they can actually cost both in-game and virtual currency to infect.
While talking about things such as attacking patrons, Zombie Café has a very interesting “Raid” mode. In this mode, users can visit other non-player restaurants and raid them with one’s zombie workforce. Using their energy as health, the zombies will battle it out with the rival café’s workers and if successful will earn the player new recipes to cook as well as virtual currency. The recipes are particularly useful, as many that are not acquirable through normal leveling are accrued through these raids, and should the user play with friends, they will be able to share them.
Yes, Zombie Café is fully integrated with social play and this includes Facebook Connect for sharing in-game accomplishments and photos. Of course, there is much more than just this. Referring to the noted recipe sharing, users can place orders at friends’ restaurants for specific food items, should the friend accept, the ordering party will receive the new recipe, while the friend will earn extra cash. In addition to this, invited friends can become part of a “franchise,” and visiting them will earn even more revenue in the form of “franchise fees.”
As a final note on social play, even if the player opts to play alone, they can still visit other users’ café’s. Unfortunately, unlike TeamLava games, visitation consists of only seeing what they’ve done decoratively. No interaction appears possible.
On the monetization front, there is a good balance between items that cost in-game versus the Toxin virtual currency. In fact, many of the decorative items cost both (with only slight visual differences), though the in-game currency versions are significantly more expensive. Beyond this, the virtual currency can be used to re-energize zombie workers – even in the middle of a raid – expand one’s café, purchase in-game currency, and, again, salvage spoiled food. As for the costs, players can buy Toxin in quantities ranging from $4.99 to $99.99.
All in all, the game is a clever take on an established genre, that could get people who care less about virtual cupcakes and more about the zombie meme interested in building a virtual restaurant