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Panic Restaurant review by The Every Gamer (July 2017)
It seems that at the end of the NES console lifespan, the quality of the games was near on high. I mean after 10 years, the developers knew the specs, the limitations and what they could truly do with those said limitations and they could pull off some amazing stuff. Problem is, the SNES was already out, so releasing NES games at this point was a bit tricky and most people would have transferred to the 16-bit consoles anyway. And then, years later, the NES games from the 90’s that didn’t sell well and were fantastic are now the most expensive games to get. Panic Restaurant (known in Japan as Wanpaku Kokkun no Gourmet World) was developed by EIM, published by Taito, and was released in 1992 in Japan/US and in 1994 in Europe.
So the Chef Boyardee looking guy named Cookie owns a joint named ‘Eatin Restaurant’ until rival chef, Ohdove, takes over Cookie’s restaurant and turns his food into living enemies. So for the main course, it’s time for Cookie to take back his restaurant with a side order of tearing Ohdove a new one.
We have a platformer where we play as Cookie…unless you played the Famicom version where you played as a young man named Kokkun. You travel around your restaurant in six levels, consisting of Appetizer, Soup, Salad, Fish, Meat and Dessert. You simply go around smacking food like Carrots, Sausages, Chickens, and more to kingdom come.
Your weapons include the default frying pan and sometimes you can get something different like a spoon which increases your range, an excellent weapon, but it can be an issue hitting enemies that are above you with it. There’s also plates that you can throw to hit distant enemies, though they are thrown at an arc and this can be a problem at steep platforms where enemies are about. The Pogo-Fork…doesn’t work that much, the point of this weapon is riding on a giant fork like a Pogo Stick and bop on enemies like a Mario game, but the jumping mechanics are so poor that you could never jump on enemies properly. It’s not the best weapon for this game. And finally, when you can find it, you can collect the Cooking Pot, where you’re invincible for a short period of time. While these weapons are useful, my favourite is the spoon. Problem is, if you get hit once, you lose the weapon you collected and go back to using the frying pan, though the frying pan is still a good weapon.
This game can be quite difficult, add that to the fact that you get only two hearts at first, so get hit two times and you’re dead. A piece of candy will refill your hearts and a lollipop will increase your health to make it four. And then you get 1-ups in the form of chef hats, though for some reason the developers placed them in areas where you will die if you try to get them, which makes no sense.
During the levels you can collect coins from enemies you defeat and you can use these coins at the end of a level to try and win big at the slot machine by wagering some or all of the coins you collected to get goodies like points, increase your hearts to four, and maybe even get a 1-up if you’re lucky. There’s also bonus levels you can play in each stage by finding a well placed ladder. You get to play in one of two bonus levels, either catch eggs or catch fishes. Catching eggs involves you…simply catching eggs with the loosest controls imaginable, but you also have to avoid bombs too, if you catch one it will end the stage. Collect eggs to win points, and having a certain number of points gives you lives. These are going to be useful if you don’t want a game over. Fortunately, you do get infinite continues so it’s not the end of the world.
Of course, with a platformer, there are bosses and the bosses are quite creative; there is a pan full of popcorn…make sure he pops, there is a microwave which shoots chickens, a wok pan that shoots shrimp, and much more. Whilst they can be difficult first time, once you understand and learn their patterns, they’re not too bad. The final boss is kind of a cakewalk when you know what to do and it doesn’t take long to understand how to defeat Ohdove, effectively making him one of the easier final bosses. Oh, and the ending SUCKS. I know the game is short, if you’re good enough, you can beat it in 20-30 minutes, but in the Japanese version…you get a little extra something at the end that you don’t get in the US version.
The gameplay is fun and the difficulty is great as it gradually gets harder over time, just as any good game should do. Enemy placements can be painful, especially in later levels…I’m looking at the shish kebabs matey! It’s one of those games where you keep on playing to get good. So get good. The graphics are utterly fantastic, there’s a lot of detail to everything that makes the game so timeless. The level design is great, very cartoony and will definitely appeal to the young demographic, though it can appeal to anyone. It’s one of the best looking NES games out there. And finally, the music is just fantastic, I love nearly every song in the game, I also love those slight scratches, you know, those samples where it feels out of place on an NES game, but you’re amazed it can produce something like that with an NES sound chip. The soundtrack overall fits the cartoony nature of the game and the ending theme is quite funky.
Overall, Panic Restaurant is a delicious delicacy, it may be small, but is still satisfying to the finish. The gameplay takes your other favourite dishes and blends them together to make an exquisite dish. The presentation is what I call timeless, utter true beauty that is left unappreciated by all those filthy commoners. I commend Chef Cookie for making the best dish in the world. A loud hurrah to the musicians who performed their elegant pieces as I tried this dish. But to those who want to taste this dish for yourself, be sure to pay a pretty penny for it as it’s served very rare indeed.
Oh, the game is great too…I’m hungry now.
(Editor’s note: Special thanks to The Every Gamer for submitting this review, check out his personal blog at wordpress.com via the following link for more great reviews and articles! https://everygamerreview.wordpress.com/)
You can get Panic Restaurant for the NES.