I love a good story. In fact, I love a good story almost as much as I love a good drink. The two things come together in fine form in the iPhone and iPod Touch game Bar Oasis 1.5, a free sequel of sorts that bridges the gap between Bar Oasis and the pending Bar Oasis 2.
The game takes place in a fictional bar, where various characters come and go. It's one of those charmed-seeming clearing houses where happenstance causes characters to come together and maybe, just maybe, find whatever it is they were looking for. Call it one part Cyote Ugly and two parts 28 Barbary Lane from Tales of the City.
I know that the first Bar Oasis is well-regarded, but I've actually never had a chance to play it. That's OK though — this game doesn't rely too much on knowledge of the past storylines to make it work. Or at least, if it does, it doesn't really matter.
"Wait," you may be thinking. "Storylines? What kind of game is this?" Well… it's a combination drink-mixing game and a time-management game, something like Sally's Spa or any of a hundred other "keep the customers happy" resource-management games. You spend the "game" parts standing at the bar, juggling patrons and trying to make their drinks quickly and accurately to keep them from walking out. You pour drinks by tilting your iPhone, which puts a fun motion-control spin on things.
The game bits are mixed together with a thoroughly enjoyable, ongoing story starring your bar-owning boss, fellow bartenders, and the characters who come in off the street looking for refreshment. It's all presented in a slightly over-the-top but endearing way, like a less cartoonish Phoenix Wright. I was surprised at how into the story I got, to be honest.
As you learn to mix more and more complex drinks, you'll be learning actual drink recipes, and I quickly found myself actually learning things from the game. Not memorising weapon loadouts or learning historical or scientific facts... I learned how to mix drinks!
It's all quite charming and best of all, it's free — Bar Oasis 1.5 got me looking forward to buying the sequel when it comes out, so, mission accomplished, guys. Call it a teaser or call it a fully-formed game, Bar Oasis 1.5 deserves a recommendation all its own.
Bar Oasis 1.5 [iTunes App Store]