I’m a big fan of the Atelier series of JRPGs. Focusing on collecting materials and alchemy over the combat brings with it a fresh take on the JRPG genre, and couple that with playful and cheerful characters, story and visual style, and you’ve got a series that flies right under the radar in the west, but is a whole lot of fun for its dedicated fans.
Adventure Bar Story is in concept very close to the recent Atelier games. That’s the good news. It’s not pulled of with the same charm, though, and that’s very bad news.
The idea behind the game is sound, replacing the alchemy of Atelier games with cooking. In effect they work the same; where the Atelier games have you running around collecting ingredients to make potions and gold and stuff, Adventure Bar Story has you running around collecting ingredients to make yummy foods that patrons to the restaurant will want to buy.
Combat with the game’s cute characters happens in a standard turn based fashion. There’s not a whole lot of complexity to it, and like the Atelier games, fighting too many battles can get quite dull. This is compounded by the fact that defeated enemies might yield a few ingredients, but no experience. As the same ingredients can be found lying around the game’s regions, it doesn’t take long for the combat to feel somewhat pointless, cute enemies notwithstanding.
It works as an iOS title largely because it’s cheap and quite simple. It’s just very disappointing that, despite borrowing so heavily from one of the most interesting JRPG series I’ve played in a long time, this one just fails to be engaging enough to be essential.