The best way to describe Adventure Bar Story, out today for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, might be "Final Fantasy meets Animal Crossing".
Though this new simulation-roleplaying game can't boast the narrative depth of the former or the meticulous attention to detail of the latter, it's still a charming adventure with a fantastic soundtrack and more content than you might expect from a $1 mobile game.
You play a perky bartender, charged with saving your restaurant from the Evil Rich Guy next door. To do so, you'll have to buff up your menu and attract enough customers to stay in business for the long haul. To do that, you'll have to cook up a storm, whipping up a delicious potpourrie of delicacies that range from dragon omelettes to hot dogs. You can experiment with recipes based on the ingredients you find out in the game's fields and dungeons, where you'll fight monsters in rudimentary turn-based combat to earn their body parts and morsels.
You'll just have to get used to a few annoying quirks. The controls aren't great -- developer ZigZag Games attempts to bypass the touchscreen's limitations by adding an overlay with a directional pad and an OK button, but things would be far more pleasant with a real controller. The translation is also subpar. Frequent grammatical errors and typos might have been the norm for Japanese-translated games 20 years ago, but they're unacceptable in 2012.
But hey, it's still fun. And in many ways, Adventure Bar Story reminds me of the cooking minigame in Konami-developed RPG Suikoden II, aka my favourite game of all time. It gets points just for that.
Adventure Bar Story [iTunes]