Recently I played a fan-translation of Oishinbo: Kyukyoku no Menu 3bon Syoubu (The Gourmet: Ultimate Menu) for the Famicom. As a food writer, I’m particularly interested in this foodie series and hope one day there’s translations of the anime and manga widely available. Although Americas widespread food-interested culture is in its early stages of blossoming (thanks in large part to the Food Network), Japan has long had cult food followings and this is just one of the byproducts.
You play the game as Shirou Yamaoka, a journalist, as he attempts to assemble the “Ultimate Menu” for his employer, Tozai Publishing, in honor of their 100th Anniversary. Shirou’s father and rival, Yuzan Kaibara, is one of the best chefs in Japan and commands The Gourmet Club, creating the background for Shirou as a food specialist in his own right. Kaibara-san is smug and certainly characterizes what one might imagine a top chef would act like.
The game feels similar to a detective text-adventure as you spend time investigating food with help from the various people you meet. Fellow co-worker Yuko Kurita assists you on your quest which takes you to various towns and locales searching for the best ingredient or dish.
Like many text-adventures there are several parts where you simply are not sure where to go and are left wandering around hoping to find the right clue or to talk to the right person to continue advancing the story. There are quite a few situations that will lead you to a Game Over, many times when you least expect it, which was slightly bothersome.
The music isn’t terrible for the 8-bit era and actually made me laugh a little when it included a few American patriotic songs like Yankee Doodle.
Some Japanese gameplay footage
Overall, the game was a fun, short quest and a small peek into the world of Oishinbo and if you pay attention to the text you can actually learn a few things about cooking and food throughout the game. I’d recommend it! Thank you to Boojumsnark for your translation!