Meshi Quest: Five-Star Kitchen (iOS, Android)

Run your own fleet of restaurants and feed customers in Meshi Quest: Five-Star Kitchen.  You’ll prepare (mostly) Japanese cuisine like sushi, yakitori, curry rice, ramen, and much more!  It’s a free-to-play downloadable game for iOS and Android devices, but reviewed on iPad here.

Gameplay is very similar to other cooking style games that require a lot of multitasking.  Customers will come in asking for certain dishes, and you must tap and drag ingredients on the bottom of the touch screen to cook them and place them on dishes to serve to the customer.  Then they’ll leave and you’ll collect money.  The faster you serve them, the more money they’ll give you and it’ll boost your score, too.  In fact, if you can serve several customers in a row, you’ll rack up combo points as well.  But if you take too long, the customer will leave and it’ll break your combo.  You win the level if you pass a certain score.  If you don’t, you’ll have to try the level over again.  If you’ve played games like Diner Dash or Cake Mania, you’ll know what to expect here.

Winning nets you experience points, coins, gems, and stars, all of which unlock different things.  When you have enough experience points, you’ll gain levels.  Reach certain levels to unlock new restaurants.  Coins and gems let you upgrade your restaurants or buy new ones.  Gems are harder to earn than coins, though.  Some upgrades will cause customers to give you more money, while others will let you prepare food faster or more efficiently.  It’s always fun to go back to earlier stages with your current upgrades to earn stars easier.  Speaking of which, depending on your score, you can earn three stars per level.  Get enough stars and you’ll unlock cats that’ll hang out outside your restaurant and act like some of the in-game achievements and earn you bonuses.

Meshi Quest does have a few problems here and there, though.  You start off with the sushi bar, but I found it more challenging than some of the later kitchens you unlock, like the yakitori and curry stations, so difficulty can be a bit unbalanced.  The game may also be harder if you’re not as familiar with Japanese food.  The customer will show a picture of what they want to order, but it’s the final product.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember what your ingredients will look like when they’re done, like the tuna and salmon sushi.  The yakitori ingredients are even less distinct.

But honestly, for a free-to-play game, Meshi Quest is of a very high quality.  You aren’t limited to how many times you can play in one sitting before you have to wait a while, there are no in-game ads that I can see, and the in-game purchases are minimal.  Making progress and unlocking restaurants is a bit slow going, but it’s not TOO bad.   And the game runs very smoothly, too.  Only crashed on me a couple of times, but I didn’t lose my progress or anything.  If you enjoy cooking games, you should definitely give this one a try.

Kid Factor:

Nothing violent or objectionable here.  Reading skill is needed for the text, and younger gamers may get frustrated at the higher challenge level.  The game could be considered slightly educational as it promotes multitasking skills and shows what kinds of food people eat in different parts of the world.  Parental supervision is recommended for the in-game purchases, though.

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