Ever heard of Panic Restaurant for the good ole regular Nintendo? Me neither. I found it by accident a few weeks ago while looking for something to play on my flash-cart*. While highly coveted by the collector peeps, how is it as a game? and why the hell is the restaurant panicking anyway?
So in 1992, while the Super Nintendo was beginning to go full steam ahead, there was a slow trickle of NES games that were released for the console. Most missed them, focusing of course on the next generation of game systems. Panic Restaurant was released in the US by Taito. It’s a platformer, and a good one at that. Sadly, the game is saddled with awful box art.
You are “Chef Cookie” who looks more like a cartoony Chef Boyardee. Your restaurant, the Eaten Restaurant has been cursed by the evil chef “OhDove” (Hors d’Oeurve?) The food and appliances are out to get you! To aid in your quest, you’ll find a few kitchen utensils that double as weapons. Say hello to my little.. Spoon. Along the way, you’ll meet some fantastically designed bad guys. Chickens with no heads! Sultry looking carrots! (There’s a sentence I never thought I’d type). Bosses range from a ginormous frying pan with popcorn, to a microwave that shoots out chickens. I’ll let that sink in for a second.
Being a late NES release by a reputable company, the graphics in Panic Restaurant are nothing short of great. I get a Mega Man vibe from the enemy design, and I love Mega Man. That bouncing Hot Dog looks like it’d be right at home in the Heat Man stage of Mega Man 2. The huge bosses are comical. The weapons work great. Spoons? Dishes? Eggs? Awesome! Kinda morbid, but I like how Chef Cookie dies, with a foot in the air.
The music is decent, but the games obscurity limits it from being super memorable. Every level does have it’s own tune, but nothing stood out in my mind as “OMG that’s my new ring-tone! (Mine, for the record, is stage one of CastleVania 1). The sound effects are sort of below par. I expected more from a later NES release. They aren’t bad, I guess I was just expecting a bit more.
Chef Cookie moves fairly well, and thankfully hit detection is good. The swing of his initial weapon, a frying pan, is so short that you need to be spot on. The silver spoon alleviates that with a longer swing. A few levels have bubbles doubling as platforms (disappearing blocks from Mega Man AHHHHHH!) that require precise timing. Inexplicably, there’s a slot machine of sorts a the end of every level. I think someone liked SMB3 a little too much.
I admit, I’ll probably never own this game, unless I stumble across it ‘in the wild’. Most of you probably won’t either. Don’t let that stop you from playing this game. From the character design, fun levels, and zany bosses, It’s definitely worth a Fair Shake.
*Emulation isn’t all that bad. There, I said it. Before the pitchforks come out, accept the fact that without it, there’d be a metric poop-ton of games that would disappear into obscurity, having only been played by the lucky few who own a physical copy of a game with deep pockets or luck. I discovered a very rare game for the NES, that was released too late to be fully enjoyed, and I never would have played it if it weren’t for the magic of emulation and flash-carts. Some might be fine with that. I’m not.