I love eating at yakiniku restaurants (a Japanese form of barbecue were the restaurant visitors cook for themselves). It is one of the most pleasant memories from the last time I went over in Japan. There’s something warm about sitting around a table with a small barbecue, eating small portions of meat and vegetables and drinking large quantities of beer.
Yakiniku is a casual experience – meals can easily span over three or four hours. Yakiniku Bugyou is too frenetic to be a casual experience, but it is very effective in making me want to head on down to get some of the real deal. The way the virtual meat sizzles and smokes is enough to make the mouth water.
|So. Hungry. Now|
The game itself is a fairly standard, albeit entertaining, time management game. There are a handful of customers all salivating for some yakiniku. You need to dish it up for them, taking into account the various likes and dislikes of each customer, and making sure you don’t dish up poorly cooked food, while also understanding that no one likes to sit around for ever waiting for some scraps to be flipped their way.
There’s some combos to gain for successfully feeding a customer a succession of tasty morsels, and the game demands further time management as each piece of food needs to be flipped over mid-way through to cook properly, and timing is something you’ll want to get right, as the effort to remove overcooked (charred) meat is almost worse than the lack of points you’ll earn from that chunk of cow.
|There was also a PS2 game released, but of course, the PS3 can’t play this one|
Do it well, and there’s a high score to reward yourself with. Being an old game now (though the game is available in America courtesy of MonkeyPaw Games, it’s a PlayStation One game), it’s a little thin on the gameplay modes, with the main game and a survival mode being the extent of the solo play options, and a two player mode for cooking with friends, but that high score is such an addictive challenge.
It’s the presentation that makes the game appealing though, as well as it does play – even as old as it is, the game captures the atmosphere of a yakiniku restaurant perfectly. The sound effects are spot on, the food looks flavourful enough, and the lack of an English translation actually assists the game’s authenticity.
Because this is a straight import of an old PlayStation game, it would be remiss not to mention that unless you speak Japanese, you’re not going to understand what the text is telling you. But it won’t really matter, either – the visual tutorials explain what the game is about well enough, and there’s no real story mode to speak off. You don’t need to understand Japanese to appreciate the visual presentation and sound effects, so this is one of the friendlier imports you’ll come across.
How much you get out of this game will probably depend on whether Japanese food gets you salivating, but as a celebration of how awesome yakiniku is, this game is held together by a simple but addictive gameplay formula and as such, is easy to recommend for anyone who want something distinctly Japanese, but still accessible.