Friday 26 October 2012

McDonalds Monogatari Honobono Tenchou Ikusei Game

In the days before blank-VHS manufacturer TDK hit it big in the video game industry with such timeless classics as "Westlife: Fan-o-Mania" for the PlayStation, they made McDonalds Monogatari Honobono Tenchou Ikusei Game for the Game Boy Color. It's a game who's name rolls right off your tongue... and onto the floor... after it's just been rejected from your stomach.

I'm obsessed with video games based on fast food chains. It's such a mind-numbingly stupid idea, yet it's a concept frequently revisited by brain-dead publishers and developers and in almost all counts... the results aren't terrible. Indeed, three have appeared on this blog in the past, and though there's certainly been some mediocrity among the ranks, nothing flat-out awful.

McDonalds Monogatari is a game built for parents who have low aspirations for their children. It's a McDonald's management simulator, in which you partake in a series of asinine and predictable minigames in an attempt to justify the wasted time and money. Fill up drinks, put fries in packets, observe the frightening McDonald's-funded neighbourhood - it's all here, and it's all illegible thanks to an abundance of Japanese text.

I'm not entirely sure what the purpose of this game is. There are mechanics to facilitate fake emails between you and your work buddies, and a hoard of pointless RPG elements such as the ability to talk to everyone under the sun, customise no less than six different bundles of pixels which are meant of represent humans, and navigate a hub-world, but the central theme seems to be around running the restaurant and working towards an end goal of some description. McDonalds Monogatari was of course a Japanese exclusive, and with virtually no documentation on the internet, it's very difficult for me to get a grasp of what's going on. Perhaps you're selling Big Macs to stop the aliens from torturing your family.

What I can say is that TDK's reluctance to embrace the concept of doors leads to an often confusing world to wander around. Unlike Pokémon, it's obvious role model whose entrances and exits are clearly marked, McDonalds Monogatari likes to hide things, and though I'm in no doubt the situation is easier for Japanese speakers, it's a McDonald's simulator - life should be fairly intuitive. Burgers are flipped the same way no matter which of the 119 countries you're being served in, so you'd think this game would be a bit more accessible to those living away from that set of islands.

Graphics are fairly standard of a Game Boy Color game from this period, and the music is predictably forgettable. Structurally the game is fairly sound, but it's not particularly fun and certainly won't give you a clear understanding of working in a restaurant. It's fully understandable why it never received a western release, but I can't see the reason why the Japanese needed this either - is there really market for games like these? 1982's BurgerTime seems to have had the better idea.

Nevertheless, McDonalds Monogatari Honobono Tenchou Ikusei Game stands as an interesting novelty. Perhaps not as novel as other McDonald's games, but whatever, it's good to know it exists.

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