I LOVED that game. For me, the first truly original take on Diner Dash.
The set-up of MM is an office. You are Denise, the new manager, and your job is to delegate tasks to your team of co-workers. The team changes as you progress through the game, since some employees quit.
That is the very fun aspect of MM. The characters are very well developed, and all have their little quirks. You have Mahavir, the Don Juan who flirts at the water-cooler with almost every girl at the office. You have Winston, the nerd, who enjoys technical tasks and playing video games. You have Tara, the shy artist, who gets constantly harassed by Pearl, a dictator-like employee who has been working for the firm for decades and tries to take over the office; Duncan, the very dumb boss who keeps coming up with very dumb ideas, Brooke, the CEO, exercise junkie, who’s an expert at everything but tends to stress out easily, Luke, the nature loving bio-freak hippie, Ashley, the bimbo in search of a rich husband and so on.
Each level starts with a cutscene, exposing all the recent office drama. Each level represents a few days (two, three, then more as you advance in the game). Your objective is to achieve a given number of goals (which change every level) in the given number of days.
Then the day start. You have your employees sitting at their desk, and Denise’s job is distribute tasks, which come in the form of coloured folders: the technical tasks are blue, the art tasks are yellow, the financial ones are green, and the writing ones are purple.
Each of your employees have their specialty; some of them are good at wrinting and bad at all the rest, some excel at two tasks, but loathe the others, some are average at everything. The better an employee is at a task, the quicker he or she will complete it; however, if you give, for instance, an art task to Winston, the nerdy tech guy, his stress level will rise considerably, and that’s what makes MM so fun.
Each employee has his or her own way to relax when they get stressed out: Mahavir naps on the sofa, Winston plays on the office arcade machine, Brooke hops on the treadmill, Tara doodles, Luke makes herbal tea infusions and takes constant bathroom breaks, Pearl has a smoke, etc.
However, what relaxes one employee will drive another one crazy and will then cause his her stress level to rise. When employees gets too stressed out, they pass out and for the rest of the day, you’re left minus one person (which is not always a bad thing).
To boost employee productivity and good mood, Denise has access to the office store, where she can purchase coffee (to speed up employees), donuts (which lowers their stress level), as well as sodas which make Denise walk faster; you can also purchase manuals, which employees can study to temporarily improve their ability at tasks they’re ordinarily not good at.
As the first day of each level starts, you have a list of the primary goals Denise must get accomplished appearing on the screen. For example:
-Have Mahavir complete 15 tasks.
-Have Tara doodling on the whiteboard for 60 seconds.
-Have Luke go the bathroom 4 times
-Have Pearl take a 90 seconds smoke break.
To achieve the expert level, complete those goals in two days or less.
Once you have accomplished a goal, it vanishes from your list; however, sometimes, a completed primary goal can be replaced by an additional one. For instance, once Mahavir will have completed his 15 tasks, that goal might be replaced with
-Have Mahavir taking an 80 seconds nap.
So your job is to maintain office harmony, make sure all of your co-workers complete their tasks without stressing out, and relax without driving anyone nuts.At the end of each level, you have another cutscene in which more of the office drama gets revealed. Miss Management, in spite of the fact that it can get very frantic, gives very little to complain about.
The story line is funny (it unfolds a little bit like a sitcom), the characters are very well developed, which is rather rare in a casual game. The music is excellent, (and a tad reminiscent from the song from “Friends”) and the premise is definitely original.
The game can be exasperating at times (when all of your workers are freaking out and dropping like flies), and Denise herself can become a victim of stress too. If the tasks are piling up, her meter will fill up, and you either have to distribute the tasks very quickly, or have Denise purchase a brownie from the store; if Denise stresses out, the days’ over.
There is virtually no fault to Miss Management: it’s funny, fast-paced, one of a kind, and ridiculously addictive.
If you enjoy at-times-frantic casual games, I strongly recommend it.
It’s not a very recent game (it was released last July, I believe), but it’s nonetheless one of the best I’ve played in the last few months, and believe me, I’ve sampled, if not completed, MANY. To quote Ebert & Roeper, big thumbs up.
Miss Management is shareware; you can download the free trial, and then purchase the game if you enjoy it. It is available for download at Gamelab, its creators’ website, as well as at most of the well-known gaming sites (Big Fish, Reflexive, Playfirst, Yahoo, etc.).
It might be worth shopping around a little, since I’ve noticed some discrepancies in the price, depending on the website.