Match three isn’t just confined to puzzle games you know. Years ago, for example, we saw how HuniePop would simulate romantic dates via the mechanic of lining up like-coloured tiles. In a similar vein, cooking dishes in Battle Chef Brigade revolves around match three gameplay. The tastiness of the meals you prepare is dependent on how well one combos the various blue/green/red ingredients. Said ingredients are harvested in 2D fighting stages, where players need to slay beasts to procure their meat and yummy organs. How violent! The chefs in this game rival Gordon Ramsay when it comes to aggression.
In Battle Chef Brigade players assume the role of Mina Han, a teenage chef who has left her village in order to compete in a cooking tournament. Think Food Wars, set in a fantasy kingdom, minus the food orgasms. Mina’s participation in the contest is chronicled across six chapters, which will take the average person around ten hours to clear. The story shows how Mina ditched her family restaurant, fought against rivals and investigated a plague that is contaminating the local wildlife. Apart from the main campaign there are also daily challenges to tackle, where players can see how their culinary skills compare to others in the Switch online leader boards.
One of the reasons why I downloaded this title, for my Nintendo handheld, is because of the eye-catching visuals. Although the game’s animation would benefit from some extra frames, one cannot help but admire the gorgeous hand drawn graphics and character designs (that resemble The Legend of Korra.) Indie developer Trinket Studios has done a fine job of combining puzzle segments, which play like Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, with fun 2D combat. Mina hunts for food by using martial arts, casting magic and hurling daggers. I enjoyed the action, even if I cannot comprehend why Mina doesn’t forego bloodshed in favour of buying ingredients at the supermarket.
My rating for Battle Chef Brigade is four Michelin stars out of five. The game isn’t too difficult, but I can’t say that the simplicity ever got repetitive. Every match feels unique, as you can’t rely on churning out the exact same dishes all the time. Different judges oversee each encounter. If you wish to get maximum points, from them, Mina needs to tweak her menu to appeal to their distinct tastes. The game also keeps things fresh by introducing new mechanics on a regular basis, such as poisonous ingredients that explode when stirred. A toxic dinner, that detonates, sounds like something I would make in my kitchen. I suck at cooking, so when it comes to satiating hunger I stick to microwavable meals.
A gastronomic brawler sounds like a weird idea for a game, but somehow Trinket Studios have managed to make it work. My only grievance with Battle Chef Brigade is that the story is a bit short. Sadly there’s no multiplayer mode to extend the title’s shelf life or unlockable characters to encourage additional playthroughs. Perhaps that is something to consider for a potential future sequel? Either way, I can highly recommend Battle Chef Brigade to anyone who owns a Switch. The game is on the Steam store as well, so the PC master (chef) race can play it on their hardware too.