Beef Bowl: The Game

When the ban on American beef imports rang the death knell for gyu-don (beef bowl), the most popular dish served at beloved fast food chain/icon of Japanese culture Yoshinoya, I tapped out a hasty ode to it in this post (gyu-don photos are posted here). I sure miss the emotional comfort that Yoshi-gyu provided; no matter where you were, at any hour, drunk or sober (usually the former), chances were there was a Yoshinoya within driving distance ready to serve you up a steaming bowl of tender sliced beef and onions – for a pittance. Indeed, around 3 AM the local Yoshinoya was like a beacon for night people and you could always count on hearing conversations between truckers (almost always baseball), street racers (quite often lamenting accidents or trading info about new police hotspots – very useful for avoiding random stops), or groups of people getting off the graveyard shift.
BSE and the subsequent media hype killed the Yoshi-gyu experience. Menu substitutions such as “pork bowl” and “bowl o’ curry” simply do not share the status or emotional attachment of a beef bowl, so for the most part, the Cult of Beefeaters, at present, has dropped from sight. In the minds of all, Yoshinoya has lost its unofficial designation as Temple of Beef. I feel very deeply for those who never got the chance to enrich their lives with the One True Way and achieve the higher state of being that I will simply refer to as moo.
Do you doubt claims about the emotional attachment Japanese people have to a particular chain of stores slinging cheap bowls of beef on rice? I guess I really have no way of proving it to you in person anytime soon, but if you have a PlayStation 2, you may be able to have a virtual look for yourself, from the eyes of a Yoshinoya employee:

For the unwashed masses unfamiliar with the game and the Yoshinoya Corporation, allow us to bring you up to speed. Yoshinoya is a company that was founded over a century ago in Japan and that has built an empire around the simple pleasures of a bowl of rice with some thinly sliced beef and onion on top. The chain of reasonably priced foodstuffs has expanded from a family-run store, which opened in a fish market in Nihonbashi, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, in 1899, to more than 1,000 stores worldwide as of 2001. Having conquered the food sector over the last few decades, the chain has set its sights on the video game world with the help of Japanese developer Success and the simply titled Yoshinoya for the PlayStation 2.
So how on earth could a game even hope to capture the essence of such a company in playable form? Surprisingly easily. If you’ve ever played the classic game Root Beer Tapper, you’ll have a small sense of what Success has done. You’ll take the role of a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed trainee at a Yoshinoya store who must work his way up through the ranks of the apron-and-hat-wearing set to be the best employee to ever seat a customer, pour tea, prepare a bowl, and shout “Arigato gozaimashita!”

Read the full preview done by GameSpot.
Personally, I’d pass on this game as I have no desire to come home from my job everyday just to simulate another one (wait a minute – is being a T/CT considered a “job?”), but I think it’s an interesting concept and I hope it does well. If anybody who has played it reads this post, I’d like to hear what you think of it.
Hat tip to Joystiq, a new daily read.

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