Developer: Rideon Inc.
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: RPG, Adventure, Simulation
Release Date: November 29, 2018 (Worldwide)
Hunger is probably the best cook!
Have you ever heard of a god that brings you misfortune? Normally a god is supposed to bless you with luck, wealth, love, power, anything desirable. The Greek mythology is probably the most spoken of and you have probably heard of Zeus, Apollo, Poseidon and many other. While those are associated with good things, there are some gods that are known for rather unpleasant things like death, misfortune or war.
Japanese mythology has a lot of gods and spirits as well, most probably known by the popular series Naruto by Masashi Kishimoto. The developer Rideon Inc. probably used the god of poverty, Binbōgami, in Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God as a role model. The little guys’ name is Coco, so totally different from the version in the Japanese folklore, but he also brings misfortune to the one he’d chosen.
The port of Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the hungry god to the Nintendo Switch reminded me much of Adventure Bar Story which I used to play years ago on my Nintendo 3DS. The next title for the Nintendo Switch has the same recipe: Manage your own tavern, gather ingredients for your recipes by fighting monsters to expand the menu for your restaurant and get rid of cute little Coco. Did Rideon spice up their game or was I getting salty playing Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the hungry god?!
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining brightly as Patricia (or Patty) takes a walk with her younger brother Gino and the butler Romano. When they have a butler, the children must be blessed and live in a big mansion… Well, you aren’t wrong there. Thanks to their father running a five-star tavern in Marenia, both Gino and Patty can live a good life.
On this crucial day, though, the trio makes an encounter that will change their lives: they met Coco. To be fair, the tiny guy looks cute. He reminds you of a mouse and maybe Kero from the universe of Cardcaptor Sakura. So, Gino has a soft spot for the hungry looking animal he just found and feeds him and with that, the misfortune begins…
Shortly after providing Coco with food, a strange mark appears on Gino’s arm. Puzzled where this might have been from, the little god works his magic and throws Patty’s family into huge debts. The bank accounts are frozen within seconds, the siblings’ father is nowhere to be found and both are homeless. Even in the deepest hours is a small light of faith. Here it has the shape of a tavern within the tiny town of Marenia.
This tavern is their only chance to get rid of little Coco and built up their wealth from scratch! As naïve as the plot might have been, Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God has a lot to offer for you. To achieve the goal and get rid of all the misfortune you have faced, you must cook as much as you can. For that, you need ingredients so you can offer a menu at the tavern that you run.
Patty is our heroine and along your adventure, you will find some useful characters that will help you on your quest. Besides cooking, gathering ingredients for your recipes would be quite hard on your own. You can go to one dungeon per in-game day. Gathering materials is rather easy and can be done in two various ways: You can either collect random items from so-called “collection points” (trees, grass, water, …) or get them by defeating monsters.
Those random encounters have a turn-based combat system and the enemies you find there are almost the same as in Adventure Bar Story. They are dropping ingredients and money for you, but the latter rather drops sparingly, so make sure to search in different locations for various ingredients instead of buying them in the shop. You can also use a so called “Search Skip Ticket”… Unfortunately, this is a feature of the original game and its market, the mobile gaming industry. More on that at the end of the review.
Leveling up is different than in other RPGs. You level up by consuming the dishes you have cooked, so make sure to make enough for your party as well! You will gain EXP in the game, but only to learn new skills for your character. The main income for you is selling dished at the tavern by creating a menu, but as I said to keep some for yourself to level up and feed them to Coco.
Why feeding the source that brought you so much misfortune? To get rid of him. His power weakens once he is full and when you have met the requirements for each week, your restaurant will level up as well. On my personal experience, Coco can eat a lot and as much as you feed him, the hunger seems to grow… But with that much to cook up, he’s gotta eat a lot!
Do not worry to run short on things to fry up in your pan! The variety of recipes is gigantic again in Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God. 600 recipes, one or two less give or take, you will not fall short of any dishes to cook. They all have different attributes that can be measured in price or popularity. Not unlike Adventure Bar Story, the number of recipes that you can find in books or create by experimenting is overwhelming. Often feeling like I’d hold a spoon the other way around while eating soup as yet another recipe popped up, cutting out one or two varieties of the same thing would not make the recipe collection less appetizing.
Let me give you a food sample here: You create a Peach Jelly. After crafting that, four or more other variations pop up, only switching out the fruit you will use (Grape, lemon, orange, apple). It would not be too bad, but it left a bitter aftertaste with me since you end up creating most of the dishes over and over anyway. If the Peach jelly would be the most lucrative of them all, why bother and sell the other ones anyway?
One argument to have so many dishes might have been the customers. They are not mindless eaters like zombies, they tell you what they want to eat and when they are tired of it also. Special combinations of dishes will also increase your profit, so watch out for that to make extra cash. This is a nice touch of depth to the game that lets you get creative and rethink your strategies once in a while.
Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God not only lets you fight monsters and travel around many lands to gather stuff so you can cook up a storm, but you are also given the possibility to farm. Yes, farming is a thing in this title, too! While in Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley the cooking becomes another factor to pass time, here you can have animals and grow seeds at the side. The ability unlocks while you play and experience some cut-scenes. Although to my disappointment, the aspect of farming is so bland I often forgot about it.
The player is less acting like a farmer, it rather feels like clicking through a menu. Instead of watering your plants or feed your cows, an old man is doing the work for you. All you do is get the seeds, order him where to put them, maybe use fertilizer and that is it. A few days later the box in your tavern glows and provides you with freshly produced goods. Sadly, an aspect with potential that fell flat here.
Sometimes you can see the roots of a game and, quite frankly speaking, the visuals of Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God scream mobile game. This is not too bad though, because, with a love for retro RPGs, I grew fond of these little sprites and overall atmosphere of the game. The avatars provided when a character is speaking reminded me of the Atelier-series a lot.
Comparing Adventure Bar Story to Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God, I have to admit that I like the environment of the previous title by Rideon Inc. more. I often had this feeling that the level design is more advanced in graphics, having more detail and more polished images, although they lack charm. The most prominent game that woke the same feeling in me was Harvest Moon Light of Hope. Cute, but also lifeless at the same time when it was looking around in the environment.
What the environment lacked, the soundtrack could overcome a little bit. The chirpy and upbeat songs that you know and love from similar titles are also provided here. It makes you have a good mood and often is fitting of what you are doing. The battle theme was enjoyable as well, but like many hours of gaming, you tend to turn off the music and maybe listen to anything else surrounding you.
While the songs of Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God are good, they can fade away and be bland after many hours of playing. The sound effects helped the musical arrangement and made everything livelier.
A few cons were already spoken about, but now I want to accent a few further weaknesses. Translating things is a mix of interpretation and clever usage of words. Being not a native English speaker myself, I can understand the struggle one could have found the right expression.
Occasionally the translation from Japanese to English is spotty or sounds funny. The second pair of eyes would have improved the quality, but the current state is not out of place at all. You can understand the context just fine, it could have eliminated the tiny misinterpretations.
Now to the before mentioned Search Skip Card and how to obtain it. Since Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God has been a mobile game in the first place, the possibility to buy in-game items with real money isn’t eliminated completely. You will have on the menu the option of a “Shop”. Just before opening it, the game saves before you can make your “purchase”. Instead of having to use real cash, you use jewels that are randomly dropped after fighting bosses or enemies.
The possibility to gather jewels is not hard and since the difficulty of the game is not too challenging, to begin with, I see no point in keeping this option in the game. It was the least effort to transfer these micro-transactions from the original game into the Nintendo Switch port and is probably still in there to not rob the players of Nintendo’s latest console of the extra items of the title.
The developer learnt from their previous title and improved themselves, which can be noticeable in their recent work. There are still some flaws left in Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God, but nonetheless, you can feel improvement. I am looking forward what Rideon Inc. has to offer in the future and I am looking forward to what they have ins tor for us next.
Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God is a solid experience, very enjoyable as well. For someone like me who likes to grind, the game gets you in its tight grip for hours. The characters are charming and likeable, so they balance out the lacking depth of the story overall. The title was designed to play occasionally. That fact you cannot overlook, but that does not make that title a bad one. Not at all, it is worth your time if you are in for easily digestible games.
Unfortunately, the price was hard to chew. The game can tickle the people that love those kinds of games, but the price tag of $19.99 USD is clearly too much. Purely on the experience, I would recommend this title, but only when it is at least 70% off. Asking for almost 20 bucks on the Switch is too much. Especially if you are looking at the mobile version. If Patty would have charged that much for her meals, she would be wealthy in no time. But would you feel well fed…? Either wait for a sale or get the mobile version is my final verdict here.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Review Key provided by KEMCCO
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NA Game Listing: https://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/dragon-sinker-switch