Onsen Master • Mini Review

Onsen Master was a much shorter game than I anticipated, which is why it deserves a “mini review.” 

Onsen Master is a hot spring customer management simulator where up to two players may work together managing different hot springs filled with all kinds of customers, ranging from the extremely polite to the incredibly rude. I played through the entire nine hot spring stages with my girlfriend, and I can’t see myself playing through this game alone. Onsen Master is definitely best enjoyed together.

Check out some of the strange customers you will find in Onsen Master.

Beating the game took us less than two hours total. We later replayed a few levels to go for higher scores and get three stars in all the hot springs. We also hoped this would unlock some extra worlds — it didn’t. There were a total of nine hot springs in three worlds.

Playing Together

Throughout the pandemic, I have always tried to find games to play with my girlfriend. We now have our go-to ongoing games, like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Rocket League. We have also played through some beat ‘em ups (Scott Pilgrim, Streets of Rage 4, TMNT: Shredder’s Revenge, and we still have a few more on the list). We spent many weekends taking turns in Splatoon 2 online matches (and we have continued the tradition with the arrival of Splatoon 3 and the inaugural Splatfest #TeamGear).

We also played through some co-op story games, like It Takes Two and Sackboy: A Big Adventure. There is however one big game franchise that reigns supreme, Overcooked. When I introduced my girlfriend to Overcooked, we made our way through that game fairly quickly (in a couple of weekends). Luckily, there was also an Overcooked 2 waiting for us to jump right in and continue cooking.

After beating both Overcooked and Overcooked 2, we have been awaiting an Overcooked 3. I even emailed Team17 and Ghost Town Games about a possible release date — still no answer.

The reason I’m bringing this up is because the first time I heard any news of Onsen Master was in a press email. The game was described to me as, “Overcooked meets Spirited Away.” I immediately thought two things, (1) Wow, that sounds like a nice little mash-up, and (2) We’re getting a nice little Overcooked distraction.

Of course, I didn’t think that this game would be the next Overcooked, and I didn’t sell it to my girlfriend that way either. I told her we had this new game that’s supposed to be sort of like Overcooked, and the gameplay did bring back some of those vibes. Onsen Master was a short little distraction, but it did leave us wanting more Overcooked.

Good Stuff | Not so Good Stuff

As a two person cooperative adventure, Onsen Master is much more tame and friendly than Overcooked. There have been so many times while playing Overcooked where everyone is yelling at each other. It’s quite funny, because any four-person game of Overcooked begins with the “planner/team leader” giving each chef a task. What ensues is chaos. Each task is quickly thrown out the window, and everyone ends up doing their best to survive and get those meals out in time. Usually while yelling at each other.

Onsen Master • Level Intro & Gameplay Video

In Onsen Master the tasks are much more tame: prepare the ingredients, set up a bath, and guide customers to the proper bath. There are certain customers who go rogue and pick their own bath, but instead of yelling at your companion, you end up screaming at the customers.

I did enjoy the music, character design, and the overall art style. Yes, the game does look like something straight out of the Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghibli world (like Spirited Away). The music, although repetitive, is cheerful and uplifting. The different creatures in the game are mostly charming. In fact, even the rude ones who do whatever they want in your bath house and leave a stinky mess are still kind of cute.

In our first playthrough, I did not notice the timer and score on the top corners. It wasn’t until we had made our way through the entire collection of bath houses. Now, knowing about these makes it much easier to keep time and track of my score. A beeping countdown would be a nice addition to this game, just for the final seconds. Something that tells you when the round is coming to an end, instead of the customers abruptly abandoning their tubs and clearing out of the bath house.

The controls aren’t very smooth, and I ran into a few problems. There were many times where I was trying to prepare ingredients (by rolling the thumb stick) only to notice that nothing was happening. There’s also some wonkiness when grabbing customers and ingredients.

Final Thoughts?

Overall, Onsen Master is a quick, fun game that is easy to understand. I would recommend it to people looking for something short to play together. The game even features some extra modes, so perhaps a group of friends can play against each other in teams of two creating some sort of home-brewed tournament.

The real question is did Onsen Master satisfy our hunger for more Overcooked?

Not really, but it was a nice little appetizer to hold us off.
Now bring me Overcooked 3, we’re ready for it.

Onsen Master is now available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox and PC (Steam & Epic Games Store).

*myVGBC.com was provided a review code for Onsen Master by the publisher.

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