Yakiniku Simulation is Exactly What it Says on the Tin

One of my favorite anime is Wakako-zake, a short-form show about a woman eating food. Each brief episode sees protagonist Murasaki Wakako go out to eat on her own and give a little internal monologue about her meal. I was reminded of this series when I spotted Yakiniku Simulation on Steam, a game that invites the player to “chill out and simulate eating yakiniku!” (Yakiniku means “grilled meat” and typically refers to a type of restaurant where patrons cook their own meat on a grill at their table, a style that originated with Korean barbeque.) Yakiniku Simulation had over 100 reviews and was sitting at a “Very Positive” rating on Steam, so I decided to give it a shot — the fact that it was only $1.99 didn’t hurt, either.

Yakiniku Simulation is essentially a cooking minigame. You place some raw meat on the grill, let it cook for a few seconds, flip it, let it cook a little more, then eat it before it gets burnt. If you ever played Grill-Off With Ultra Hand on the Wii (I don’t know why you would have), it’s like that. There are three modes selectable from a bare-bones interface — Score Challenge, Time Attack, and Free Mode. The former two task you with hitting a score as fast as possible and getting the highest possible score within a time limit, respectively. The latter, as its name implies, simply invites you to relax and eat some yakiniku.

The presentation (menus aside) is the star here, with well-textured meats and chewing noises that will either make you hungry or send you scrambling to turn them off in the options menu, depending on your feelings about mouth sounds. And that’s it, really. That’s Yakiniku Simulation.

Yakiniku Simulation

The game lists a range of features, touting the ability to play with rice, beer, salad, and so on. That led me to believe that this would be a kind of restaurant simulation, where you could order different items to go with your grilled meat. In reality, however, those “features” are actually suggestions for ways to play the game. I kind of admire this approach — few games suggest you have a beer while you’re playing them.

Why does Yakiniku Simulation have such high ratings on Steam? Maybe it’s just one of those little games that lucks out in the algorithm. Maybe a VTuber played it and that drove up interest. Maybe people are just hungry (sorry) for games where you eat tasty-looking meat. Maybe it’s all of these things. I’m not sure what explains it, but it’s neat to see weird, small games like Yakiniku Simulation still carving out niches for themselves on Steam. Now, if you’ll need me, I’ll be making more smiley faces out of meat.

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