Errands are never as bad as you anticipate, but that isn't to say they are as thrilling as a video game. Nobody thinks of taking the garbage out as some high scoring hit or buying produce as a sophisticated puzzler.
After all, most of us don't want to go to the supermarket in real life, let alone stock virtual shelves and arrange digital fruit.
Supermarket Mania is worth checking out, though, for the way in which it transforms mundane grocery shopping into a pleasant excursion. While it's not the first business simulation to hit the block, its express lane-pace and colourful graphics give it fresh appeal.
You play as new hire Nikki as she starts her first day at the TORG mega-chain supermarket, which is run by an army of robots. She has trouble fitting in at the massive corporation; unsurprisingly, she's fired and forced to find other work.
A local grocer is convinced to let Nikki and her cashier comrade work at his shop. Making the run down store a success means balancing a number of tasks including stocking, cleaning, and customer service.
Each of the game's 50 stages has you pushing around a stock cart to fill display cases with foods, as well as picking up garbage left by customers and dealing with delinquents.
It's not unlike Diner Dash or Cake Mania albeit with a grocery twist. Everything is handled with taps of the screen; for example, a tap on a shelf orders Nikki to stock it, while tapping a piece of garbage instructs her to pick it up and place it in the recycling bin.
It's all about time management because Nikki can only do one thing at a time. From her cart, she can stock a handful of shelves after which she must load up on goods from the stockroom.
You have to time stockroom visits so as to minimise the time customers wait for items: make a customer wait too long and he leaves the store. More problematic are thieves that will swipe food, and garbage that can cause accidents, making customers storm out the store.
Balance these tasks well and you take in more money, which you can then use to buy upgrades include more expensive foods, a more efficient stockroom to reduce restocking times, etc.
Since each stage only takes a couple of minutes to complete, these upgrades not only reward you for effort but also provide an incentive for continued play. Supermarket Mania does well in supporting short sessions of play, while at the same time featuring enough depth to keep you coming back.
The game also streamlines play in such a way that it feels much improved over the Diner Dash formula from which it unabashedly borrows.
Just enough is going on in the store to keep things interesting, but you're never overwhelmed or overburdened with too many elements of which to keep track. You don't have to write a grocery list to remember what needs to be done at this store.
And that's what makes Supermarket Mania an ideal portable game. It's effortless and fun to play, which means unlike your own errands you'll never be compelled to put it off.