I have very definite tastes when it comes to pop culture. I like or dislike something almost immediately, and it’s very rare when I change my mind. I’m not saying this is a good or bad thing, but I know it’s part of my personality. In fact, if I have a predisposition not to like something (such as Pulp Fiction or Titanic), there’s no hope of changing my mind. I saw both of them knowing full well that I would hate them, and I did. Oh, how I hated them.
Anyhoo, when I play a game, I can usually tell within five minutes whether I’ll like it or not*. Sometimes, if I think I may be unnecessarily harsh, I’ll give it more time, but it’s very rare when I change my mind. As a related side note, I like my beverages either burning hot or ice cold. I like to literally burn my tongue when I drink tea, for example. I don’t know why, but I do. It’s the same way with popular culture. When I consume a piece of it, I either love it or hate it. It’s very rare when I finish, say a novel and am meh about it. With video games, I will play up to an hour and then quit if it doesn’t grab me. Or, I won’t even start one that I know I will hate such as Collar Duty.**
This year, there are two games I played that while I wasn’t grabbed by them or thought they were the most amazing games I’d ever played, they had something there that made me like them more than not, but for very different reasons. I can’t say they were among the top games I played in the past year, but they are definitely worth a mention.
The game that should be grateful that they were not sued by Iron Chef
Battle Chef Brigade
I was drawn to this game, developed by Trinket Studios and published by Adult Swim Games, for a very silly reason–the protagonist was an Asian woman named Mina Han. I mean, how could I not want to play her given that she was me in cartoon form! Not really as she’s in her early twenties, slim, with short hair, and loves to sleep, but the name, gender, and Asian part were enough for me to buy it. It didn’t hurt that it was a mashup of a monster hunting game (lite)/fighting game (lite) and a cooking sim/Match-3 and more.
The graphics are a mixed bag. The characters look hand-drawn, and the game is bright and colorful, but some of the environments and monsters are not as pleasing to the eye. Each character is distinct, and the story is fun if not silly. The basic gist is that Mina is a simple country girl who works for the family restaurant. Part of that is killing monsters in the backyard for their parts as ingredients in the family recipes. There is a something called the Battle Chef Brigade competition in which all the best fighting chefs in the world gather to compete against each other. Through some trickery, Mina makes it into the competition.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this game up until the point where you start having to do different dishes for different judges. All of the gameplay is frenetic which is in sharp contrast to the leisurely pace of the rest of the game. The ramp up is too much for me and my aged reflexes, however, and I had to give up the game before I finished it. I will add that the turn towards the paranormal didn’t jibe with the rest of the game, either. I would have been fine with the game sticking to the competition and not throwing in that vampires (or vampire-like creatures, can’t quite remember) were infecting the monsters.