Lemon Cake Review (Switch)
Running around the bakery and baking pastries is giving me such a workout!
Don’t you just have a dream that you know won’t come true? For me, that’s running a bakery and I fill it with video games that have you run a bakery (though it usually leans more towards cat cafe). So when I saw Lemon Cake’s trailer, not only did the cute graphics catch me eye, but also the fact that you run a bakery that made me want to play it.
After creating your character, Lemon Cake has you take ownership of a bakery that hasn’t been in business for some time. As you walk in to take in the building you’ll be working in from now on, you come across a ghost. Don’t worry, it’s not the vengeful kind, but the cute, nice kind! Her name is Miss Bonbon and she was the previous owner. Since her death, the bakery has become abandoned and in need of repairs. Thankfully, the main area customers are in are in tip top shape and you still have an oven and a tree to work with. Throughout Lemon Cake, you’ll slowly bring it back to how it was in its glory days and someday bake Miss Bonbon’s favorite dish, a lemon cake!
From then on, you’ll be thrown right into Lemon Cake’s gameplay loop. Each day is a couple of minutes long which definitely feed into the mentality that you can do just one more before you have to stop. Before opening up your bakery, you can take time to do any preparations. Starting out, that mainly means making some pastries to put on your display tables, chucking in some wood for your oven, watering your cocoa plant, and finally opening up shop. All day you’ll get a flow of customers, with the most coming in during the lunch rush of course, which will either decide to order something and dine-in, or pick whatever is on your display table as takeout.
Those that decide to dine-in will order and after taking it, you have to get the order started and back to them before they get sick of waiting. All you need to do is select the recipe, grab the ingredients to put in the mixing bowl, and throw it into the oven (if needed) and wait for it to cook. Customers do have a timer, and I believe you get paid more depending on how fast you are. There will also be those that won’t sit down to eat, but will grab a pastry off your display tables to buy and eat later. While it is best to try and keep the display tables full, it gets harder to keep them stocked during the lunch rush and as you unlock more of the bakery.
Of course, this sounds easy, but eventually the wood fueling the oven will run out and you have to put some more in so your pastries can continue baking. As well as clean up any messes on the floor which are pretty annoying. These messes pop up pretty frequently and slow you down and sometimes you have no time to clean it up and you just have to hope they don’t pop up anywhere that would be in your way. Or right under your mixing table where you can’t see it.
Control wise, I did feel that Lemon Cake felt sluggish starting out. It didn’t feel like the game was properly responding to my button presses and that I had to go beside the item to pick it up. I’m not sure whether it just gets better as your character gets used to the bakery in game or just that I got used to it, but it does feel better as you continue playing. There is also a dash, which I didn’t understand at first as you only get a burst of speed before you slow back to your regular speed and get three clouds on the bottom on the screen. At first, I thought this was the dash meter, but in reality, it’s just the cooldown timer, and when I figured that out it I understood the mechanic more. I do wish the dash lasted a bit longer still though.
As you get further into the game, you’ll find yourself leveling up, as exp is what you’ll naturally be doing, which will let you get a new recipe for you to put on your menu. And, as you get more money and unlock upgrades, you’ll be able to have more ovens, more ingredients, another table to have more dine-in customers, more display tables for walk-ins to grab a tasty pastry, and more that’ll help you out. Of course, this brings in some more things to keep on top of. You’ll have more ingredients to grab, which may be further away from the door, more plants to water, animals to brush so they keep producing milk/eggs, and more table placings to clean.
At the end of the day, you’ll be able to see how much profit you made, pick out the next day’s menu, and pick up any upgrades that you may be able to afford. Starting out you can only have three pastries on the menu, but as you level up, you’ll be able to add more to your menu for each day. While you can add whatever you want to the menu, there are a few qualifiers that will determine how much of a tip you’ll get determined by the variety of your menu, if any of the pastries were on the menu too many days in a row, and if it’s a new pastry (which will excite customers). I wouldn’t worry too much about getting it to 100%, just create a menu that is varied enough to get some tip percentage while also being realistically able to handle (like having pastries that cook quickly and not needing a lot of greenhouse ingredients).
Like I mentioned before, there are upgrades that you’ll be able to buy and that’s at the end of the day. There are four categories of upgrades that pertains to each area of the bakery: Store, Kitchen, Greenhouse, and Bedroom. For the bakery, upgrades pertain to adding something new, like new ingredients or a new table or a new mechanic like coffee to increase a customer’s timer, or something that will help you out. For example, it gets very tiring having to water plants a lot and you do unlock better water so you don’t have to water as much. Though, these do feel grindy as they do cost a lot and it often will require days to save up enough money.
Though, I don’t recommend picking up any of the bedroom upgrades as the bakery upgrades are way more important and more helpful. There is the bookshelf that will give you lore on Lemon Cake, but I do recommend picking up upgrades for your bakery first, especially if its upgrades that take some load off your shoulders.
Every couple days, Inspector Mustache will also visit and this will have you play a minigame where you catch as many bugs you can catch in 30 seconds. You do get paid for each bug you catch, with the color determining how much you’ll get. Getting used to the bugs hitboxes take a couple tries, but once you get the hang of it, it turns out to be a nice change of pace and can help you get those last few couple dollars you need for an upgrade.
I do also wish there was a bit more in terms of interaction with Miss Bonbon and Inspector Mustache. It’s probably a combination of those two being the only ones that talk to you and that I did like their characters.
It runs pretty well on the Switch and I didn’t run into any instances where it lagged or anything. Though, I did encounter one or two instances where I couldn’t pick anything up and luckily it wasn’t when I was that far within a day.
If you’re someone that liked playing time management games like Diner Dash or Gamehouse games, Lemon Cake will fall right into it but with a 3D twist. Lemon Cake is honestly a really cute game and while it is quite grindy to get all of the upgrades and seems sluggish starting out, it’s a pretty good game to play. I did enjoy my time with it even if it got a bit hectic a lot of the time. Also, don’t try to finish the game in a couple days, that will just fast track you into feeling burnt out on Lemon Cake.
It’s a shame that Lemon Cake is double the price on consoles. I’d be hard pressed to recommend this at $30 even to the most die hard fans of this genre, but for $15-20? Yah, I actually would.
Lemon Cake also recently received a physical release, so for anyone interested in getting this physically you can.