Have you ever wanted to run your own ramen shop? Me neither, but I would like to visit a ramen shop every day if it didn’t fast track poor health. The next best thing would be running your own ramen shop, of course, and The Ramen Sensei fills that void.
The Ramen Sensei is part of a production line of simulators all bearing the same guise but covering different industries – games devised for mobile, but have transitioned to the Nintendo Switch. On first impressions, if you haven’t played any of the games in this series, you might be mildly overwhelmed by the in-your-face pixelated presentation. You’d think that playing this on the Switch, there would be a bit more real estate, so you aren’t bombarded with menus, alas, that’s not the case, and the game is far from minimalistic.
Your place in society is the owner of a tiny ramen shop, and like classic games such as Theme Park, you want to lure in the customers so that they repeat their visits and tell their friends. Fortunately, there’s only one product you need to market, and that’s ramen, but the diversity of this noodle dish is so in-depth, no one recipe is the same. So, aside from hiring the best staff to run the business and add their skills to the flow of productivity, you devise your own ramen menu to stand out from the crowd.
To do this, you need to create a base – i.e. miso, tonkatsu (pork bone) and shoyu broths, then choose your noodle – thin, think, stringy, straight… then you add your toppings. Not everything is at your disposal from the start, and you steadily unlock new recipes, combinations and ingredients as word of mouth grows, and you have a steady flow of customers. Anyone dismissive that it’s ‘just a bowl of noodles’ need to open their mind and try something new. Just like the real-life counterparts, there are excellent and lousy ramen shops and some that are simply sublime. You want to be the latter.
There’s a lot of customisation in The Ramen Sensei, as there should be, and you can name your dishes and, of course, your shop. Perhaps Unko Ramen wasn’t the most luring of names, but that didn’t stop the queues soon forming outside my establishment. Whenever you create a new dish, you’ll get a panel of testers each giving their opinion on the new addition, and it’ll get a rating. I was more or less down with it with my first concoction of miso ramen, almost completely apart from the egg and negi, everyone was impressed apart from one at the end. Subsequently, the first dish got an F.
Undeterred, I used my alchemy skills to build the best dish available and to get featured in Noodle magazine. Yes, it exists in the game. However, this isn’t a realistic sim as miso ramen would be the winner all round. Instead, you have to listen to your customers and invest in the staff that can ‘read’ customer desires before they’ve made them. Not only does this help you build an even better menu, but ensures the staff is efficient, serving the customers quickly and getting them out for the next in line.
As you progress, you can improve on your roster of employees, enter competitions and expand your business to a full-on chain. For a game that is so streamlined at serving one type of business in the hospitality industry, I’d have to say that this was the one that appealed to me most, despite lacking the drive to open my own shop in real life. The attention to detail, that is, the amount of ingredients and combinations is crazy – it’s jam-packed with customisations, so to speak, but the presentation is a personal thing.
I’d hate to judge a game on appearance alone, nor would I, but coming to this series, I felt it was a bit of a mess. You can see what you’re doing, eventually, but it’s just very cluttered. The graphics are cute and all, but this was targeted towards the mobile market so visuals aren’t everything and neither should they be. But, on the big screen, they were just a bit of an eyesore. The sound effects and music weren’t much better.
However, after creating my first dish and getting to name it the most puerile I could, I was soon making another, and the critique from my customers urged me to make another dish, and another, and you get the point. The Ramen Sensei is a great game to kill time, whether on the commute or you want something engaging that is neither too taxing nor stressful. A lot is going on in the game, and there’s a lot of fun to be had once you navigate yourself around the cluttered interface.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The Ramen Sensei Review
Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 5/10
Replay Value - 6/10
User Review( votes)
Not on par as an actual bowl of ramen, but The Ramen Sensei is a fun simulator on the light side, that borders on addictive with the amount of customisation and progress you can make through expanding your business and winning competitions.
- Plenty of variety and customisations.
- An enjoyable experience to build ‘an empire’.
- Light-hearted with enough challenge to keep you occupied.
- Cluttered screen and menus.
- Graphics are cute but an acquired taste.
- Targets ramen only – only a con if you want more variety than noodles.