Food Girls. That’s it. That’s the title.

Playing two Switch games in a row is pretty unusual, but hanging out with Klonoa reminded me that I actually own the system and that it’s a pretty decent handheld.  Hence this post.

Today, I would like to talk about Food Girls, which was a super enjoyable visual novel / resource management game where you are set in the role of a business consultant and tasked with revitalizing a Taiwanese street market.  While there are a number of businesses and food stalls, you decide to focus on these three characters and their shops:

Left-to-right: Lulu, who runs a pork bowl shop and is hopelessly addicted to online games, Bubbles, who runs a Bubble Tea shop and is your standard-issue twin tail tsundere with no politeness filter, and Aurora who runs a fried chicken stall and is naive, friendly, and also stacked.

The subtitled names don’t match the Japanese names, but eh.  I won’t fuss.

Since I don’t speak more than three words of Mandarin, I’m happy to report that there is a Japanese dub and an English translation, which is perfectly tolerable with only the occasional glitchy translation.

There are a few side characters as well, most of whom are also cute girls.  There’s a token male character in the form of the street market president, but he’s almost completely absent from the storyline unless you spend a lot of time unlocking a sort of weird conspiracy subplot.

Sakura is probably my favorite of the side characters because she looks like an adorable helpless young thing and at the same time has connections to the mob that are never fully spelled out.  Plus she beats up a mob of thugs that are hired to intimidate you at one point.

The game is pretty simple.  You have 84 days to turn around the street market, you can perform up to 4 actions a day, and everything you do is in the service of either improving your relationship with one of the vendors, improving their popularity or improving the quality of the food.

During all of this, you also frequently have little interactions with the girls, and each has their own story that unlocks slowly as your relations improve.

For the record, I was a super fan of Bubbles.  I may just like violent girls.

Most days end with a side event where you might be tasked with helping the vendors deal with a belligerent drunk, feeding stray cats or simply watching helplessly as torrential rains ruin the day’s sales numbers, and you get a scorecard based on the market’s performance every 28 days, with a minimum score required to continue.  I never had trouble making the numbers, but the game does have a hard mode if you want more risk.

For replay value, the game has at least five endings.  Each girl has an “S-rank” ending, which is easy enough to get if you pick one and devote time to them.  I also found that there are entirely different “A-rank” endings on one of my playthroughs.  I think these are probably harder to get than the S-ranks.

Beyond the character-specific ones, there is the previously-mentioned conspiracy story which requires you to spend a lot of your day running investigations into the street market.  This takes away time from the market, so your numbers will take quite a hit, but once you finish this side plot the game ends with a happy enough you-saved-the-day sort of ending.

And then there’s the “Perfect Ending”, which is actually something of a feat to achieve.

Food Girls is based around multiple play-throughs, with certain items carrying over from route to route to make the next session easier.  Even after unlocking all of them, however, sticking the landing for the best ending takes a ton of planning and careful time management to pull off.  I was – figuratively – biting my nails through the last 20 or so days of my perfect ending run and didn’t actually lock in the victory conditions until day 82.  Since day 84 consists of the final evaluation, I really only cleared it with one day to spare.

I’m pretty new to resource management games like this, but the combination of management sim + visual novel segments + cute characters turned out to be a real winner.  Since you can fast forward through anything you’ve seen before, getting through it five times to see all of the endings wasn’t too arduous, and the close call I had on my perfect ending run meant that I got to watch the story conclusion and end credits with a serious sense of satisfaction.

While Food Girls didn’t get a Switch release in the West, you can import it physically or digitally, and it’s also available on Steam for PC and Mac for 20 bucks.  Strongly recommended if you want the digital equivalent of eating sugar by the spoonful.

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