Do you like Japanese RPGs with turn-based combat and slightly stilted translations? Do you crave a game that plays best with a spreadsheet and a community of other players right at your fingertips? Do you keep shopping for crafting or management sims looking for something really deep? If so, get excited. History of the adventure bar [$0.99] beautifully fills this niche. As a big fan of games like Harvest moon and the fabulous Recipe I consider myself to be part of this elite crew and I love this game, its flaws and everything.
While not the best in its class if you look across the platforms, there really aren’t any quality games similar to History of the adventure bar on iOS. There are RPGs, yes, and there are management sims (so often featured in freemium grindfests), but a deep combination of the two has been conspicuously absent before. Rideon Japan brings us a game that sits right in that gap, delivering many hours of fun for a remarkably low price.
When our story begins, our heroine Siela and her sister Kamerina apparently compete to see what apathy can wreck the family bar in the first place. When a buyout offer comes in, Siela is inspired to try and get things going. His friend Fred offers to help him. Fred owns the only store in town, so he’s a great guy to have by his side. He tells Siela a little secret: There’s a field nearby where you can literally collect cooking ingredients on the ground.
After a trip to the meadow, Siela returns to the bar to cook up some dishes. Once she has a few things to sell, she gives them to her sister, who opens the bar and sells the goods off-screen (no customer interaction for you). It’s all a bit silly, it’s true: icons indicating produce, meat, dairy, and other supplies litter the meadow floor, and at first it seems there is nothing What to do than collect them and return to the bar to peruse the menus and create inspired dishes like “Salted Daikon” and, uh, “Salted Cucumber”.
Corn History of the adventure bar is gradually proving to be atypical, even in the world of management RPGs. Everything in the game revolves around food. To level up, you eat. To earn money, you create dishes to sell. To advance the plot, you run your restaurant as best you can. In fact, the game can be played almost entirely as a restaurant management simulation, finding the best prices for the best products to create a stand-alone menu. Siela and her party only need to venture into dungeons when they are level high enough to complete them and advance the plot. Or you can play traditionally, smashing monsters and looking for hidden secrets.
After a few days of collecting and preparing the bases, the game opens. A new dungeon is unlocked and the story moves forward. The new dungeons are filled with new ingredients, and that’s when the cooking simulation starts to shine. Trying to discover recipes from scratch is like playing something like Doodle god [$0.99]: there is a collection of ingredients and tools to work with, and you still have to discover the internal logic that drives the combinations. Once you’ve completed a recipe, you can usually iterate over it to create other similar things. A basic understanding of cooking helps, but if you run into a wall there are recipes to buy. Recipe tips with a few filled blanks open up as you discover new ingredients.
Each new ingredient dramatically increases the number of recipes that can be completed, so the bar really starts to jostle after a few days. Once her notoriety was high enough, Siela was invited to participate in local cooking competitions. If she can cook something popular enough to take the top spot (something that can be sorted out by paying attention to what sells in the bar), there will be great rewards and more interest in her bar.
I am impressed with the depth of the strategy History of the adventure bar offers. Each day’s menu takes into consideration: is it better to list expensive foods or use them for the experiment? Recipes that go particularly well together unlock combos that make them hot items. And since the group can only go out once a day, deciding where to go to cultivate which ingredients is a challenge.
While the combat follows a typical turn-based random encounter RPG formula, that doesn’t mean it’s boring for long. There are many skills that affect food that drops in battle. Send an enemy with “Butcher” and he will drop additional items; skills like this abound. You don’t unlock them by leveling up with food, you automatically unlock them with points earned in battle.
History of the adventure bar contains IAP, but that’s ridiculously optional. Jewels, the premium currency, have been added to the existing content, and they add a few shortcuts and some handy weapons and items. You might want to use them to solve a particularly difficult recipe or to get a head start on equipment, but they’re never, ever needed.
The game does not stand out particularly aesthetically. The music is pleasant enough without being distracting, the environments and sprites are RPG standard. The dialogue often seems forced, but generally the translation is usable. However, there are a few linguistic and cultural gaps to watch out for when working on recipes, and a handful are completely lost in translation. A word of warning, as we discuss the flaws: save often. The game supports multitasking but no autosave, so it’s easy to go back by switching apps and taking too long to come back.
Once you have mastered the basics, History of the adventure bar can become quite rote. You unlock new characters every now and then, find secrets, and level up your bar, but it’s all done slowly. The same goes for the story, so most of the game time is spent browsing long lists of items and crafting recipes. It’s fun for a while if you’re into RPGs, but it’s fine for a lot longer if you’re the kind of person who can’t resist a checklist or spreadsheet. Overall this game is a good deal, but only for the right kind of person. Many of them hang around our forums, working to guess the depths of the game. Trust me, you will need their help.