Underneath my yellow skin

The problem with series

Yesterday, I brought up the new game, Cook, Serve, Forever (David Galindo). It’s in Early Access, and I had been stoked to play it because I love the series. But, alas, it’s not to be. I’ll get more into it in a second, but I do want to give major props to a few aspects ofthe game. One, the music. The music has always been slamming in the games, and it continues to be so in this one. It’s fantastic, and it really bolsters my spirits as I play.

Also, the graphics just make me smile. Somewhat cartoon-y and lots of vibrant colors. The characters are varied in size, color, genders, and age. I just love the whole design vibe of the games. I like that you are a talking character in this game. You haven’t been in the past. You have loved cooking since you were a young girl and you grew up to be a cook in a food truck. You live with your (Asian!) girlfriend, and you have aspirations to be a great chef.

The conceit of the game is that there is a competition in which you want to get three stars like the famous chef, Rhubarb. She is the only one to have ever done it, and you want to be like her. I love that there’s a story and the characters are voiced. The two robots were voiced in the last game, but that’s it.

I love the voice actors in this game. They are great! I’m not crazy about how stereotypical the men are (they are the shopkeeps for Nori, the main character)–racial/nationality-wise. The main shopkeep is Baz from Australia, and it makes me wince that all his comments are very g’day mate-like.

But aside from that, I really enjoy the characters in general because they are fun and quirky. Ok, one other exception. The pastor in the church, but that’s because I have a bad history with churches. I don’t want to listen to a sermon while I’m playing a game.

But I do love the style of the game in general. Each game has iterated and done better than the one before. This is the best lookswise, and I’m impressed with how much effort Chubigans (the name he uses for Twitter) has putinto updating the look and feel of the game. This is eleven years after the first one was released, and I can really see the growth in the design of the games.

Now that I’ve said all that, let’s talk about the issues with this installment into the series. First of all, it’s not really a sequel–even thoug hthe name implies that it is. I get the feeling that it’s called that in part to link it to the previous games. I can’t blame Chubigans because that’s what he is known for–the CSD series. Why would he not want to call back to that for his new game? Especially when food is involved.

It’s funny because the demo showed a game that was more like the past ones. Not in the case of the actual gameplay, but in–oh, wait. No. I thought it had all the customers available from the start (which is how it is in the past games), and you can choose which one want to do at any time. Nope. It shows the different steps of an order where the other customers would have been in the past games, but just the one order. In the Early Access version of the game, the steps are under the main graphic, but much smaller than they were in the demo–and just the next step. I have included a video of the demo play above.

Here’s the problem. I heard the name Cook, Serve, Forever, and just assumed it would be part of the series. I didn’t look at anything about the game before it was released because I knew I was going to buy it, and I wanted to go in fresh. That’s how I do with games I know I’m going to play, anyway. It was the same with Elden Ring. FromSoft, obvs. I knew I was going to play it so I didn’t watch or read much of anything about it. If it was going to be Dark Souls IV but open world, I was more than fine with that.

I assumed that Cook, Serve, Forever was going to be another version of CSD, so I didn’t read or watch anything about it. I watched the announcement trailer, but that was it. If I had any knowledge of it just being QTEs, well, I forgot it.

I will admit I was disappointed. Well, first of all, the tutorial is…ah, nonexistent. Plus, there is a bug that crashes the game every half hour or so. And, if you stop the cutscene, then that messes up choosing your ingredients.

I don’t mind the bugs. Or rather, I expect bugs in Early Access. But, I gotta say, I don’t think the game should have been released in this state. There is not much there, gameplay-wise. All the other stuff is nice, but it doesn’t make the game.

Many hardcore fans did not like the fact that Elden Ring was made more newbie-friendly. The whole balance was changed for boss fights so that they are best fought with your spirit summons. Therefore, if you try to solo the bosses, it’s much harder. They don’t like that, and they were whining about it at length.

Suck it up, buttercup! That’s what I say. FromSoft gets to decide that they want to do something different. Elden Ring is not Dark Souls, so there’s a freedom to expand. I really appreciate the freedom they found in setting the game in a completely different world. I think it would have hamstrung them to try to tie it back in with the Dark Souls universe. People tried to do that with Bloodborne.

I feel like Chubigans could have tempered expectations by calling the game something completely different–like Cooking and Chill. He could have kept cook in their somewhere if he wanted, but by calling it something similar to the CSD series, he set up people to expect CSD 4.

I don’t think the game is bad. Not by a long shot. But it wasn’t what I was expecting, which is a letdown. I am willing to give it some time and see if it improves, but I’m not sanguine about it at the moment. I will probably put it aside for now and check in on it again in a few weeks. Hopefully, it’ll be better by then.

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