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Yakiniku Bugyou Bonfire!
  PS2CookingJPN  
  opened by paleface at 19:16:22 09/06/03  
  last modified by paleface at 03:24:21 09/08/03  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Cooking; loc=JPN]
           
Sizzling barbecue game, apparently a tie-in with Japanese barbecue chain Gyu-Kaku, in which you must please three customers at once by serving up perfectly seared slabs of various meats and vegetables. The massive barbecue takes up most of the screen and can hold twelve food items at once, though personally I don't yet feel confident enough to grill regularly on the spots in the middle of the grill, where the intense heat will turn your prize steak into disgusting ash if your attention is distracted for even a split-second.
 
Icons next to the customers' heads show the types of food for which they've got particular craving. Throwing them a choice bit of barbecue, grilled to light brown grid perfection on both sides, increases their satisfaction meter, which is otherwise constantly decreasing--these people are hungry, damnit! Stick a piece of raw or burned cow in their mouth, however, and they scowl, yell, and their happiness takes a sharp dive. If anyone's meter bottoms out it's all over for your career and you've got to retry the stage.
 
In the main mode you've got a time limit in which to get all three customers' pleasure meters over halfway full--if all three are satiated when time expires, you've cleared the stage and can choose the next area of Japan to which you're going to serve up carnivorous satisfaction. Each of the seven areas has a different assortment of patrons, as well as a star rating--which possibly goes from one to four stars, though the last stage is locked and as yet I've only seen as high as three stars. Customers at locations with higher stars seem to turn up their noses at well-done chops, or the food burns faster, or something. Anyway they're tougher.
 
Depending on their happiness, customers rant or sigh with pleasure in appropriate measure. Drawing anticipatory cries from these ravenous masticators as you flip a golden brown meat bun at just the right moment, sending up a fragrant plume of vapor, does something to get one's juices flowing. But you gotta move your chopsticks fast to keep everything on the grill simmering to perfection--take a moment too long to flip that steak and it's ruined. Keeping track of the timing of each piece of barbecue, with different foods cooking at different speeds, can get quite hectic. Go for cooking in the middle of the grill as well as the outsides and you've got quite a tricky task ahead.
 
The rather blurry anti-aliasing of the low-resolution 2D sprites makes them look even lower-resolution, and nothing here could not have been done on the PS1 (I'd be interested to know what the differences are between this version and the original PS1 version), but at least there's no mistaking the state of the food, despite occasional large plumes of steam or smoke rising up over the grill. The music is decent if not memorable in any way but the sounds of meat sizzling over the coals, coupled with the voices of three hungry and impatient customers, makes for an exciting aural experience. You may not want to play this game while hungry.
 
Mode-wise it can only be said that the pickings are slim. With no use made of the memory card (rather shocking, really), you have to start playing through all the areas from the beginning each time you boot up the game. You can play in a survival-type mode with no time limit, where the customers switch if you max someone's happiness meter, and you have your choice of three levels of difficulty, but you won't find anything to do aside from cooking over the same-looking grill over and over. Two-player mode should spice things up a bit as you compete with a friend for score (gained by pleasing the customers) while fighting for cooking space on the same grill, but it doesn't seem like something you could play all day. Although the 4,800 price seems a bit steep for a game with relatively little variety, as a short, frantic and savory arcade-like experience, Bonfire acquits itself admirably.
 
  paleface 03:24:21 09/08/03
           
Two-player is fun without making a whole lot of sense, since you can flip and serve the food that the other player puts down. The players fight for a majority share in each customer's pleasure meter: the player with a majority in two of the meters when time expires is the winner. Twitch-fest, with very slight strategy involved in defending valuable foods with your chopsticks (the other player's chopsticks bounce off if yours are in the square into which they're trying to move).
    
references:
· Gourmet Action Game: Manpuku!! Nabe Kazoku (PS1)
· Taiko no Tatsujin: Wai Wai Happy Muyome (PS2)
· Yakitori Musume: Sugo Ude Hanjouki (PS1)

 
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