Adventure Bar Story is a dream come true for long-time RPG fans looking for a different kind of adventure. A port of the Japanese PSP title Adventure Bar in Wonderland, this blend of management sim and role-playing adventure from Rideon Games is a lengthy – although occasionally tedious – tale of two sisters and their restaurant.
An evil man named Gustav is trying to buyout the local restaurant and watering hole, and its up to Siela to help her sister Kamerina save the bar. The way to do this? By learning recipes, battling monsters, and turning the blasé menu into something special for the in and out-of-towners who are regulars at the bar.
It’s a novel idea not seen very often, and for the most part, plays out wonderfully. There are a plethora of different recipes to learn, and lots of ingredients to collect and experiment with, to try to make new plates. Each day involves hunting and collecting food, and devising a recipe of maximum profitability. It’s a fun mix of what the typical restaurant management title would have, but with all the trimmings of a turn-based RPG, like a story, multiple characters, and battle strategies.
However, the slow-paced plot can wear down the more casual RPG fan, as there is a fair amount of grinding needed at certain points to advance. Defeating different dungeons normally advances the plot, but defeating the enemies within can lead to many repetitive battles trying to gain valuable experience and ingredients. It’s not a major detraction, and for RPG fans, won’t really feel out of the ordinary of a typical Japanese or Korean action RPG.
The game’s 16-bit style art is crisp and smooth – although it’s not universal, so it does look pixellated when at 2x on the iPad screen. There is a lot of great background art and character design, although it’s nothing remarkably unique or exciting. The music is the same: solid, unobtrusive, but not really memorable in any way.
For the hard fan who doesn’t mind some work, Adventure Bar Story is a lengthy, rewarding adventure – definitely worth the microscopic price tag. Despite its inclination toward grinding later in the game, the solid mechanics and fun recipe-building makes ABS a worthy entry in a sub-genre we don’t see a lot of. Definitely worth a look for business sim and RPG fans – and fans of both will be in gaming heaven.