Caldera Studios challenges you get that perfect pour with their new time management game, Tiki Bar. Shake, tilt and flip your iPhone to prepare traditional and (not so) traditional cocktails for the motley crew of barflies in front of you. Your goal is to serve as many customers as possible and earn the most in tip money that you can.

Customers saunter up to the bar and order a drink. Select the customer you want to serve and then it’s drink making time. One by one, you are presented with each component of the drink and you must perform some sort of motion or gesture to add this portion to the cocktail. This could range from tilting the device to pour some alcohol or juice, flipping the device to pour a measuring spoon of sugar, sliding your finger on the screen to cut a lime or squeeze some fresh juice, or putting together a drink shaker that then needs to be…er…shaken. Caldera Studios has done a really beautiful job taking full advantage of the iPhone/iPod Touch’s accelerometer and touch screen. The motions feel natural and like a true control scheme rather than some cheesy novelty gimmick. They add to the immersion and for the most part, the motion controls work flawlessly. Occasionally I struggled to get the game to recognize that I had completed my task when instructed to drag one object to another (usually the ice).

As you are mixing a cocktail, there is a “patience” meter, which runs down slowly as you go. If it runs out the customer will walk out and you will lose one of your three lives. Any time that you are pouring measured alcohol, there are little demarcations on the pour meter (red) bad, (yellow) OK and green (good) to tell you where to stop; if you “pour to score” and keep getting in the green on the pours, you will get a little bonus tip money and more time on the patience meter. The more you tilt the device, the faster you’ll pour, making it more difficult to stop in the green section. Lot’s of perfect pours will also earn you a special appearance by the dancing Hilo Tiki.

Tiki Bar has fantastic, humorous hand-drawn comics-style graphics that looks like something you’d see on TV. And rightly so, since all of the game’s artwork was produced by Emmy nominated Nate Funaro of the Cartoon Network. The game also features great sound effects and a soundtrack of original Tiki lounge music which really creates the mood and ambiance.

There are about 18 different base drinks that you will be asked to make, but there are also two separate DLC packs available for $0.99 each via In App Purchase. The first is, Blender, which adds 7 additional blended drinks into the mix and a new contraption which you must put together and then subsequently use to make a the drinks The second DLC pack “Matches” adds 2 base drinks, plus flame-o-rama which is a set of 7 silly flaming drinks. These both add some fun variety to the game and come on who can resist a drink that’s on fire?!

There is just the one “survival” game mode, with two different global leaderboards. One keeps track of your total tips, and the other keeps track of the number of patrons you successfully served. The faster you make the drinks, the greater the tips and serving up the more complex drinks will earn you higher tips as well. While these leaderboards will help add some replayability, the lack of a progressive level-based mode may seem lacking to hardcore fans of “food-prep” themed time management games like Diner Dash.

In Conclusion

Tiki Bar’s excellent integration of gesture controls adds an interesting and fun twist to traditional time management games, although when compared to other titles in this genre, the single “survival” mode limits the game’s longevity. I’d love to see you be able to do something like purchase bar upgrades or new equipment using your tips. That being said, Tiki Bar is sure to be a hit with the Cooking Mama and Wii crowd and if you can ignore the fact that you are making alcoholic drinks, I think kids would really enjoy this one as well. While I would have liked to see the game debut at $0.99 (since you’ll probably want to also pick up both DLC packs), it’s definitely still worth checking out at $1.99.

Update: (August 19, 2010)

The v1.2 update makes the “matches” DLC pack FREE for all users!