"Battle Chef Brigade is what you get when you imagine a cooking competition show like Iron Chef as a video game."
Battle Chef Brigade is one of this year's PAX 10, a group of indie games specifically chosen for their quality and creativity. This being my first year at PAX, however, when I initially arrived at the show, I thought that PAX 10 was just another grouping of indie games (there are many on the show floor). Battle Chef Brigade was the first of the 10 that I played, and it immediately demonstrated that the PAX 10 label is truly a badge of quality.
Battle Chef Brigade is what you get when you imagine a cooking competition show like Iron Chef as a video game. In it, you assume the role of an up-and-coming young chef competing in a national competition to join the titular Chef Brigade. Not only is it novel and fun, the game is also gorgeous. The hand drawn 2D art has a quality rarely seen, even out of Japan these days.
The game itself proceeds in three phases. In between cooking bouts, equipment can be purchased or upgraded. Better cookware will make the subsequent phases easier and enable achievement of a better score.
The second and third phases are where the competition begins. First, ingredients for the dish must be gathered by killing monsters, including the signature ingredient assigned by the chairman. In the demo, this was dragon meat. Combat works like a fast-paced 2D platformer, where a defined space is traversed horizontally and vertically, and fighting proceeds with a combination of short and long ranged attacks. At least in the demo, the combat is not terribly difficult; players should be more worried about fighting the clock than the monsters.
Once satisfied with the collected ingredients, players can move on to cooking. The cooking phase shares a timer with the previous phase, so players must balance how long they take to hunt the meal. Cooking itself is basically a match-three puzzle where each ingredient is converted into colored orbs that are dropped into the pot or skillet. Once the cookware is filled up, players must rotate a square of orbs to match them and build up stars. The gameplay is simple enough, although later challenges will include obstacles like poison or mold that get in the way of matching the right colors.
Essentially, whoever gets the most stars wins the cooking competition. However, it is possible to lose stars by not paying attention to the judge's tastes, not including the signature ingredient, or not plating the dish.
I have personally loved watching chef competitions on television since I first saw Iron Chef in Japan. Battle Chef Brigade captures all the fun of these shows and places you, the chef, in a beautifully drawn anime world. Check it out the next time you are hungry for a melting pot of platforming, fighting, and puzzles.