Adventure Bar Story gets immediate points for originality, turning a cooking title into a genuine RPG. I haven’t seen anything like that since Grand Chef, an old 3DO import that’s so obscure few (if any) reading this have even heard of it! So I applaud the uncommon approach, especially as RPG’S can be so cliche. It doesn’t save the game unfortunately, but it does make this subpar package respectable in certain ways.
The story has your struggling bar at the risk of going under. Town restaurant mogul Gustav would like nothing more than to buy your business and strengthen his overpriced monopoly. By attracting townsfolk to your shop through tasty meals, and winning cooking contests, you’ll give him a run for his money.
Collecting items for recipes is key. You can buy some ingredients in town, but you’ll need to venture out to get more. You collect them while battling various enemies. The amount of grinding is heavy handed unfortunately and a bit of a turn off, especially since the world map areas where you battle are rather boring. Even with a full ingredient list the number of “makeable” items is scant initially, forcing you to grind repeatedly. Nevertheless dungeons can only be visited once per day. This restriction dampens enjoyment.
Leveling up is not handled in the traditional RPG sense. Instead you’ll need to eat the food you prepare to increase your stats. Strangely the food you eat takes away from the food you can serve customers, another restriction. There are severe limits to what you can accomplish early on. The repetitive tasks needed to actually cook anything grow quite tedious. You may very well lose interest before the game finally starts gaining some much needed momentum.
Adventure Bar Story shows some flashes of charm in the early goings, missteps and all, but regrettably it grows needlessly frustrating. Its opening tutorial is frankly terrible! It’s severely lacking, and you’ll stumble through the menus not so much with curiosity but resentment for the lack of instruction. The game certainly doesn’t need to hold you by the hand , but a little direction goes a long way. I was excited that the dish creation allowed for making original recipes for instance. How disheartening to create what seems a perfectly modest and reasonable recipe only to get a “failure was made” message, without even a hint of what caused you to fail or how you might improve! To rub salt in the wound, you also lose the ingredients you used in the effort. This game actively discourages experimenting! It gives the illusion of freedom, when in reality it’s a painfully linear process. It’s certainly not intuitive, and the manual bizarrely has zero information on what is the primary component of the game – how inconsiderate!
This title looks good in still shots, but is rather jerky in motion. The lack of smoothness has a negative impact on the visual appeal, as does the total absence of 3D! Much of the time you’ll be staring at menus anyway. Musically, the tunes that play are rather pleasant, and certainly fitting. They are a bit on the generic side however, and won’t leave a lasting impact.
I’m unsure what audience this mobile game will find on 3DS. The theme is niche, and the gameplay is limited and repetitive. The visuals fall short, and the lack of direction leaves too many questions. It’s double the cost of the mobile versions too. Adventure Bar Story has some winning ingredients, but it hasn’t managed to mix them successfully. Don’t let the original theme or occasional charm fool you – when it comes to gameplay, this download is undercooked.