For every ten games that are sequels and every twenty based on a popular licensee one truly unique game slips through. Curry House Coco Ichibanya is one of those rare innovative and unique games. The game is based on the famous Japanese curry chain Curry House Coco Ichibanya. If you didn’t already know curry is popular in Japan, so popular that they even have their own style of curry. Curry House Coco Ichibanya has their own special recipes and pride themselves on being able to customize the dish for each customer. The main game puts you in the shoes of two workers in a Curry House Coco Ichibanya restaurant where your goal is to make curry and satisfy your customers.
Making curry isn’t as easy as it sounds. First you need to measure the amount of rice, which you control by rotating the right analog stick. A full turn of the stick scoops out 150 grams of rice, 3/4 of a rotation will deal out 100 grams and a slight nudge will give out a single gram of rice. You’ll need to precisely rotate the stick to get the exact amount, or at least close to the exact amount to please the customer. Then you’ll have to add in the right amount of chili peppers, which can be done by tapping the right analog stick when a moving cursor is in the center. After that you need to measure out the amount of curry sauce and finally add in the right cooked meat or vegetables. To make matters a little more tense you have to do this as quickly as possible because of customers don’t get their curry they’ll get upset and leave. If you’re really on top of things you can “combo” or “chain” curry dishes. To get a combo you need to have precise measurements when making the curry dishes. This means getting the exact amount of rice, not missing a single chili pepper or perfectly cooking the added meat. Each time you get something exactly right you’ll add a point to your combo meter, but once you get one thing even a little off or way off your combo meter resets to zero. The other measurement of your curry prowess is chaining customers. Chaining means completing orders one after another. Chaining is particularly useful for serving people sitting down and making sure all of them get their food at once.
The game is simple to get into and easy to learn thanks to a great tutorial mode. The story mode takes you through making curry step by step. It not only shows you the necessary controls and motions you need to do, but it also simplifies the game so you learn to master it bit by bit. For instance the first act only has you making simple curry. This means curry without meat, vegetables or any extras. You simply have to measure the rice, put the peppers in and measure the sauce. By the time the first act is over you feel like you’ve mastered that skill and the next level introduces adding in cooking the meat and vegetables. Further levels put an emphasis on quick service and has you switch between being the cook and the waiter. If you play through the tutorial mode you’ll find yourself learning the game really quickly. After seven levels you’ll get used to balancing tasks like greeting customers, cooking the curry and taking orders.
While the game is simple to learn, Dorasu made sure there was a challenge in mastering the game. Curry House Coco Ichibanya puts emphasis on your ability to multitask and plan. When you have a bunch of customers inside your store you’ll have to plan what you are going to do or you’ll serve people too slow. One example of planning is cooking the meat first and then measure the rice out. If you make the curry this way you won’t have to wait for the meat to be done. However, if you cook the meat too far in advance it will burn and you’ll be even later. You’ll also have to plan when you’re going to take more orders so you don’t have a large line of people waiting for curry. As you play the game more and get better at micromanaging you’ll find it more and more addictive. The addictive gameplay is entertaining, but Dorasu could have added some deeper gameplay. One example of this would be to give people the ability to manage different restaurants and have a capitalism mode.
If you’re tired of having a computer partner, you can opt to play with a friend. The two player mode has one person play as the waiter and one person play as the cook. If you want to take a break from curry making all together there are a bunch of mini games that you can play. Only two are available at the start of the game, but many more can be unlocked. The first mini game has you eat curry as quickly as possible. To eat a bite of curry you press the A button. Curry is spicy so if you eat it too fast (read: press the A button too fast) you’ll have to take a short break. The other starting mini game is a memory game where you’re shown what customers want to eat. After you’re quickly shown their order it’s your job to give them the correct orders. As you progress further into the game you’ll have to remember more customer’s orders and there are more possible foods to choose from.
The graphics and sound in the game aren’t anything spectacular. The waiter, waitress and the customers are made of a small number of polygons. Even though the characters aren’t technically well done they still have a cute look to them, similar to the characters in Animal Crossing. One positive note is there are a decent amount of different customers so there is some variety. The shop itself isn’t any graphical feat either, it looks really basic. There aren’t even any lighting effects to show the time of day or even a diverse use of colors. The sound effects in the game are sparse too. Every once in awhile you get a voice that screams OK, good job or the rewarding sound of creating a combo. The music is really simplistic. There isn’t even a soundtrack just a few songs that differ between the game and the mini games. Even though the game lacks a good presentation, it is a puzzle game and puzzle games aren’t know for being great in this domain. Fortunately, you’ll be spending so much time micromanaging your curry shop you won’t have time to check out the graphics or pay attention to the sound effects.
Curry House Coco Ichibanya is a tasty treat. It’s original, it’s simple, it’s fun and it’s addictive. Even though it’s a puzzle game at heart it is bound to stir interest in people outside of the puzzle genre due to its uniqueness.
Import Friendly? Literacy Level: 3
The game’s menus, tutorial and story mode are completely in Japanese. However, the game isn’t too hard to learn without any prior knowledge. On the import friendly scale this would be a medium difficult game to learn.
Doubtful, since the Curry House Coco Ichibanya chain is only in Hawaii. On top of that it doesn’t seem like there is going to be a company willing to take a risk to translate this game either.
+ Pros: Easy to learn, surprisingly addictive, lots of different mini games
– Cons: Mini games have little depth, lacks deep gameplay
Overall: Even though there isn’t as much gameplay depth compared to other Playstation 2 games Curry House Coco Ichibanya is flat out fun and addictive.
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