Whether you are a 13 year old girl or a 28 year old man, Kairosoft has a simulation game for you. You can design a mall in Mega Mall Story, start a soccer team with Pocket League Story or develop your own video games with Game Dev Story. Finally, you can run a restaurant chain with Cafeteria Nipponica.
Cafeteria Nipponica is a restaurant simulation game. The goal of the game is to get a number one ranking in fifteen years of gameplay. I didn't find it much of a challenge to accomplish, but it was rather time-consuming. Getting the number one rank is not the only goal of the game, however, and the game does not end when it is accomplished. This is one of those games that could go on and on forever while you improve your building, staff, customer base and menu into infinity. You can build up to three restaurants with a choice of five locations. Each location is in an increasingly more busy area with a higher population, therefore adding more possible customers. You have to keep adequate staff members on hand to ensure your clienteles’ needs are met. Buying and collecting ingredients and building a good client base are only some of the key factors in Cafeteria Nipponica.
At the beginning of the game, you are given the option of four styles of restaurants: Japanese, Chinese, Western and Snack foods. After choosing your preferred style you are given a few dishes to offer on your menu. By buying, finding or being given ingredients and recipes, your list of available dishes can grow substantially. To raise a dish rating or to create a new dish, you will have to select a cook and the dish you wish to develop. Then you add either one or two ingredients to it and wait and see if it has been improved or even upgraded to a new item. Every night, after the restaurant closes, your chosen chef will begin working on the dish. Depending on the ingredients you chose, your dish will increase in cost, appeal, aroma and so forth. There is also a secondary set of stats for each dish to keep in mind. Each customer is specific on what they want the food to be like. It can range from brain boosting to healthy to texture. To keep the customers happy, you want to try and satisfy your demographic. Ingredients are either bought or found. Once every season your staff is given the opportunity to go out and search a chosen location for ingredients. Each location costs a different amount of money to search. The more expensive locations unearth the more rare and high quality ingredients. If your staff's energy level is high you have a better chance of finding rarer ingredients on these searches. The right ingredients are key to expanding your menu. Once you have these ingredients, you can begin adding them to the dishes that you already have on the menu. Sometimes adding ingredients will change a dish to something else (thereby increasing the amount of choices on your menu) or improve the dish somehow. Good luck trying for an "A" ranking on a dish. In my16 years of playing not one of my dishes made it farther than a "B" however, I have a feeling subsequent play throughs would have a better shot though. The better the dish is, the more people will come in to buy it and the more money it will be worth as well.
As the days tick by and your restaurant grows you will be awarded different "plans". Plans are just options you are given to improve your business. These include increasing your ingredient routes, various advertising plans, remodeling stores, recruiting staff, expansions and opening new stores. Recruiting staff is vital in making sure your customers are promptly served. Advertising plans will give you a short rise in business and, in turn, profit. These are usually ideas that customers bring to your attention. For example, they might suggest having an eating contest at the location. If you decide to do this (and pay the required amount of money) it will most likely boost the volume of customers that come in to the restaurant for a few business days. I like to use a few advertising plans per year when business is down. Increasing ingredient routes or transportation modes will enhance the items you are able to buy, and therefore broaden the dishes you can develop from them. Remodeling an existing store gives you an opportunity to try and model your store towards your desired demographic. Expansions will increase your store size and the amount of staff you can hire. I did this whenever I noticed people waiting in line to come into the restaurant because there wasn't enough tables to seat them all. I found expanding to be quite useful.
Depending on your store size you will be allotted a certain amount of staff for the kitchen and the floor. It's imperative to have the right amount of staff members for your restaurant. Without the right amount of employees, customers will walk out and the frequency of their dining will plummet. When hiring your workforce, you must keep in mind the cost of each employee. Every April you will be forced to pay all of your crew at one time, so keep an eye on your funds as the new year approaches. As your employees level up, you will be given the option of changing their position. For example, a trainee on the floor can become a service master, manager or pro staff which boosts how satisfied the customers are with their service. The employees in the kitchen can change their titles from rookie chef to Japanese chef, Chinese chef, Western chef or expert chef. Each job title comes with a change in stats and a set of specialty skills in different areas of the restaurant. Keep your restaurant's menu in mind when choosing your chef's position and skills.
I'm not a frequent player of this style of game. In fact, the last game at all similar to this I played was Sim City for the Super Nintendo (which still rocks in my opinion). I did find this game to be slow to start but very addictive after a bit of play time. I'm not a fan of sitting and waiting for something to happen in a game. I like to be constantly doing something or watching something. I found myself waiting again and again in the beginning of the game. I did, however, find a great way to use this to my advantage by playing the game at work on and off all day. It's nice to be able to put a minute of my time into something and walk away for a while, letting the days play themselves out. After opening two more stores and increasing their size it became much harder to simply push a few buttons and walk away for awhile. The game did become more involved at that point. Something that bothered me was that there didn't seem like there was enough of a tutorial for a first time player like myself. It took a lot of play time to figure out the full mechanics of the game. Once I figured it out, I was able to enjoy the game and play to my full potential.
The publisher Kairosoft has done wonders with some old school 16 bit style graphics here like they did in Dungeon Village. If you have any interest in this game or this style of game I suggest checking Dungeon Village out. It's a similar game but it's fantasy-based and you run a village for adventurers. There seems to be much more to do in Dungeon Village, but that just could be because of my love of all things in the fantasy genre. Cafeteria Nipponica is by far not lacking in fun though and is a good game to become addicted to for a while. It may be a bit slow on the uptake but becomes more engrossing as you progress. Watching the little characters run around is alright. It gets quite repetitive, though. I found Dungeon Village to be a bit more interesting to watch. I would have loved for them to throw some more comedy into the game because it's a bit too bland for my taste. There is no action, no comedy and very little drama. What's left is a good game of trying to better yourself. It reminds me of playing Diablo II and trying to improve on what I already had, minus the fighting and action, of course. For those of you who enjoy playing games like Dungeon Village, Sim City, Mega Mall Story and The Sims this game is for you. Its complex dish and clientele-building is challenging and enjoyable. A lot of people like to play these games, and I do see the appeal, but I personally need more than that to call a game awesome.