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Review: Nimble Strong: Bartender in Training

Justin McElroy

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Finally, video games have a purpose.

I've been playing them for nearly three decades, and the number of applicable, real-world skills I've gleaned from them hovers right around zero. But now, after playing through the entirety of Nimble Strong on the iPhone, I have a working knowledge of cocktail making ... and a fancy certificate to prove it.

It's a clever idea, but a simple one: What if Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney really taught you the law ... and also was about drinking?

Gallery: Nimble Strong: Bartender In Training (review) | 6 Photos

As a newbie bartender, you'll pass this bar exam (zing!) by learning how to blend the favorite drinks of a colorful cast of characters (like crusty bar owner Muskrat and the mysterious Conquistador). After a brief exchange of dialogue and a bit of guidance from each on their preferred poison, you're presented with an empty glass and a full selection of liquor, liqueurs, mixers and tools of the trade (shakers, spoons, etc.).

But it's not enough to select the right ingredients, you've got to have perfect timing to put just the right amount into each drink. For example, if the customer wants a Black Russian, you'll select the ice bucket and hold your finger on the pictured old-fashioned glass until ice just reaches the rim. Then you'll tap the e-liquor cabinet and add 2 oz. of vodka (hold on the screen for two seconds) and 1 oz. coffee liquor (one second) then serve. The better your mix (you get bonuses for perfect pours) and the faster you can mix up the drink, the bigger your tip. It won't just jangle in your e-pocket, though: you'll be able to use that cash to unlock the 75+ recipes that can be accessed outside the story mode.

Honestly, I'm hard-pressed to find much fault with Nimble Strong. Mixing drinks is a lot of fun, the Phoenix Wright-esque presentation is cute, and it's already led me to try making a few new adult beverages. I honestly felt more educated at the end, and how many games can you say that about? ... No, seriously, I'm asking. I can't remember any because I'm very, very drunk on cocktails.

Speaking of which, have I ever told you how much I love you? No ... no seriously! Why are you laughing?

This review is based on the iPhone retail version of Nimble Strong provided by developer Adam Ghahramani. Nimble Strong is available on the App Store for $4.99 right here. A free "Lite" version is available here.

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