Hot Dog King - A Fast Food Empire Review

If you’re looking for Hot Dog King to be a business sim along the lines of a “Tycoon” game then you’ll be disappointed. While the game does challenge you to build a chain of hot dog restaurants while earning a healthy profit along the way, the business aspect of doing so has been so abstracted as to be at most a secondary feature of the gameplay. In fact, Hot Dog King is in reality more akin to a Japanese dating sim than it is to a tycoon game, but more on that later. Let’s start at the beginning…

You begin a game of Hot Dog King by choosing a location for your first restaurant. Each of the game’s three cities is divided into a few neighborhoods, and each of these neighborhoods is home to a different type of clientele. Your clientele will dictate the type of products you sell and the staff you hire, but the game is pretty straight-forward about their needs so it’s pretty easy to determine what needs to be done in each neighborhood. Once you set-up shop you’re given a stock restaurant with a set layout and décor. Part of the fun in tycoon games is developing your business’ look and design, but you won’t be able to do any of that in Hot Dog King. You’ll have to purchase the equipment for your restaurant, but you’ll be limited to what you need to buy anyway so there’s not really much choice here. You won’t even have access to some items until your restaurant grows in size to the next level, which takes much of the thought out of the process. I’d like to have the chance to send my restaurant to Chapter 11 by buying a fancy grill at the start, but the game forces you to go the more prudent route by locking everything up except for a microwave. Even when you purchase something you have no choice as to where to place it – the game sticks it in its predefined spot in your predefined store and that’s the end of it.

Once you’ve got your store set-up, you’ll need to visit a supplier to stock your store with goods. This is a tedious process made even more difficult by a convoluted interface that is far from user-friendly. Making matters worse is that you need to order food on a daily basis, although the game will let you set-up a standing order once you figure out what you really need. Figuring out what you really need is pretty much a random process. There are a number of food items available and you’ll just need to put them in your shop and see what’s bought each day. There aren’t any charts or tables to help you analyze demand as there are in most tycoon games, you’ll just have to use trial and error. Making things even more random is that there doesn’t seem to be any relationship between the food items. For example, you’d think that you’d sell about as many drinks as you sell food items, but not offering drinks at all doesn’t seem to hurt the food business.

All aspects of running your business in Hot Dog King run secondary to managing your staff. When hiring a new person, you’ll be given a list of candidates and be able to see how they are rated in different aspects such as customer service and maintenance ability. The one thing that they all have in common is that they are all young and nubile ladies. Once you’ve selected a new hire, the next step is to pick out an outfit for her. The available outfits range from short skirts to string bikinis and while your clientele is supposed to dictate the modesty of your staff’s outfits, the underlying idea here is to go as bare as you dare. Let’s face it, the game isn’t having you dress up your women for your customers, it’s having you dress them up for your benefit. This is given a bit of a creepy vibe by the fact that you view your restaurant from a few fixed, rotating camera locations that make things look like your watching them through a security camera. Here, put on this bikini while I go into the back room and watch you from three different angles. No, the game doesn’t simulate sexual harassment lawsuits.

OK, now back to the Japanese dating sim connection that I referred to in the beginning of this review. In addition to playing with dress-up doll employees, Hot Dog King makes it important for you to manage the mood of your staff through things like giving them gifts. In my very first game, my bikini clad counter woman broke down in tears during her first day on the job of microwaving hot dogs because I didn’t buy her a present. Seriously. Here I am thinking about things like margins and I should have been worrying about my high-maintenance staff.

Hot Dog King tries to throw in a little humor with random events such as miniature UFOs that vaporize your customers, but this just seems out of place. There’s no customization in the game and the business model is extremely light. What the game really comes down to is keeping pretty girls happy so that you can keep watching them in their bikinis, and Hot Dog King manages to make this a pretty boring exercise. Save your money and use it to go out and buy a real woman (or man) a hot dog for lunch.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 60%. It’s boring being king…


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