As a man born and bred in Yorkshire, I take every opportunity to talk about Greggs. I also take every opportunity to eat in Greggs, especially when it comes to breakfast. Their bacon baguettes are a true British classic. So when I came across the unofficial Greggs – Northern Pastry Shop Simulator game, I leaped at the chance to play it. It’s also free, which is a massive bonus.
Tastier than the tastiest YumYum
The brainchild of a developer called _gav on Twitter, it is a game specifically developed for the TIC-80. This is a free and open-source fantasy computer for making, playing, and sharing tiny games, according to the website at least. And at just 113kb, it’s a pretty small file size. As the saying goes though, good things do come in tiny packages.
Setting up shop
As a sole worker in a newly opened pixelated pastry shop, the player must both prepare food and serve customers. Food is taken out of the seemingly bottomless fridge, and placed into either of the two ovens. With limited space in the inventory and storage unit next to the till, players have to carefully plan ahead. Just like in real life, the food takes a certain amount of time to cook. If a customer wants a Steak Bake and has to wait for it, they won’t be happy at all.
Talking about the individual pastries, there are four on offer. Aside from the aforementioned Steak Bake, there are also Sausage Rolls, Chicken Bakes, and Cheese and Onion Bakes to cook. For dessert, both YumYums and Eclairs are available to sell. Each one has a quirky description attached, with my favourite being the Sausage Rolls described as “classical tubed meat rods”. These items don’t seem to be able to spoil, but the ones placed in the ovens can burn. Leave them for too long and they have to be thrown away.
Cooked to perfection
Similar to something like Overcooked, the gameplay is all about balancing a frantic kitchen and demanding customers. It’s much simpler but it still has that addicting loop. There’s no need to wash dishes or prepare individual ingredients. Just throw stuff into the oven, cook, and serve. Food can even be served straight out of the players’ inventory rather than dumped into the storage before serving. With three difficulty modes, each helps up the challenge if wanted. Things like lengthening the cooking time, and removing item names make the game harder.
Because of the purposefully designed limitations of the computer it is played on, Greggs Simulator is a nice and crunchy pixel masterpiece. With just 240×136 pixels and 16 colours to play with, graphics are not the most advanced. Which is fine, as this all adds to the experience. And thanks to RetroDeck, it also plays wonderfully on my Steam Deck, albeit with a few button modifications. For those who want a less involved experience, it can be played directly from the browser.
More than meats the eye
Whilst a completely enjoyable game already, it would be nice to see more things added. Maybe some more products to sell, or some extra parameters to contend with. Maybe food can expire after being cooked for example. Or a smaller starting budget. Would be great to flog some stone-cold pizza to an impatient and irate customer. Or maybe I am thinking too much about this.
Overall, Greggs – Northern Pastry Shop Simulator is a charming little game and a fantastic example of dry British wit. It’s also a great showcase of the talents needed to make a fun and functional game using limited software. It is a callback to those made and played on machines like the Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum. For those reasons, and the fact I get to write an article about a Greggs-related game, it is a must-play for me.