Flo to the Rescue!
OK, I’ll admit it up front: I enjoyed Avenue Flo. To be fair, though, it’s the kind of game I can’t help but take to. Cute animation, quirky humor, reasonably difficult puzzles, a decent plot twist or two here and there…as a game, it was right up my alley. It also had the added benefit of being the somewhat more developed cousin of Diner Dash, a game for which I have a great deal of residual fondness.
Avenue Flo picks up (in a sense) where Diner Dash left off. Flo’s diner is finally running more-or-less smoothly, and Flo is excited because the daughter of the local corporate overlord is getting married to the local pizza guy, and the whole town is invited! Unfortunately, it isn’t long before Flo gets a call from her roommate, Quinn the Wedding Planner, and learns that the wedding preparations are in shambles! (Oh no!) The dress is in shreds, the canine ring-bearer is missing, the cake is green, and the butterflies are…everywhere!
And so begins Flo’s epic quest to right wrongs, aid the weak, and bring peace and order to the chaotic world of Avenue Flo. As a protagonist, Flo holds the plot together pretty well, especially since it’s pretty clear from the get-go that she’s the only one in town who actually knows how to get anything done. Everyone else seems to be too busy boo-hooing about how their efforts are ruined, and they don’t know how they will fix the damage in time for the wedding, and whatever will the bride think of them? (etc., etc.) Each and every time, it is Flo alone who cheerfully steps up, takes charge, and cleans up the mess.
Now, admittedly, even the perkiest of protagonists can’t change the fact that helping a bunch of whining, lazy, demanding, and semi-incompetent townsfolk does get old after a while. I mean, is Flo really that helpful, or is she just, well, gullible? Upon some reflection, I determined that—while Flo may be both of these things to a certain extent—she is also very resourceful, and kind of sneaky. Beneath the layers of altruism, here is someone with some serious business savvy, who knows more than a little about the art of wheeling and dealing. “Of course, I’d be happy to help you wrap these wedding favors,” Flo says sweetly at one point. “But, while I’m doing that, do you think you could possibly bake a fresh batch of dog biscuits (that I will then use to lure the missing ring bearer out of hiding)? Great, thaaaanks!”
In terms of gameplay, I appreciated the fact the puzzles were moderately demanding (basically, hard enough to be fun without being overly annoying). Granted, some of them were kind of frustrating, while a few seemed a bit nonsensical (e.g. why am I beading a gigantic, multicolored pattern of hearts and butterflies onto someone’s wedding dress? Is anyone really that tacky?), and some were just outright weird. I think the oddest mini-game, hands down, was the one in which I had to take a bus ride out of town to a nearby farm, assemble a chorus of singing chickens, and get said chickens to perform a few ditties in glorious chicken-y harmony, all so that the head chicken would lay the eggs that I needed to bake a cake to replace the one that had inexplicably turned out green! (Yes, you read that right. All of it.)
Another thing I enjoyed about the game was the interactive neighborhood in which Avenue Flo is set. It is actually a combination of three neighborhoods that comprise the different “stages” of the game. Each neighborhood has a different feel to it, and traveling between the different areas via the local subway had the effect of making the world of the game feel like a real city, instead of just a set. The movement from place to place also helped move the plot along, and kept the gameplay from getting overly stale (two things that I definitely appreciate in a game).
Incidentally, one of the nice touches in the game was that the subway could only be accessed with tokens, and the only way to get tokens was to pick up and recycle neighborhood trash in special waste receptacles that doubled as token machines. This was perhaps not the subtlest of messages, but it was nice to see a little extra eco-friendliness in the game. It definitely made the less savory parts of the game (see above comments re: “whininess”) more palatable.
The animation in Avenue Flo was bright and crisp, and the music was correspondingly upbeat and happy-sounding. There was even a big, splashy musical number at the beginning, in which all the characters got together and sang all about how much they loved Avenue Flo. It was actually quite the jaunty little tune, and to close out this review, I shall try to recreate it for you here. Unfortunately, I can’t really remember the actual tune or lyrics of the song, but in the interest of capturing the true spirit of the game, I have created for your enjoyment a little song of my own, which is intended to be sung to the tune of “Avenue Q.”
The sun is shining, it’s the month of May,
A perfect morning for a wedding day!
But things are starting to go astray…
Where can you go?
You head out of town and teach chickens to sing
Then come back in time to find the missing ring
But don’t look now, the bride’s floating (away)…
Here on Avenue Flo!
You live on Avenue Flo!
You can’t say no!
Everyone is feeling low,
And they count on their friend Flo.
They can’t live without you, Flo.
Yes, you are Avenue Flo!