October 8, 2019

I Love You, Colonel Sanders!

By Elliot

Let’s get some things out of the way before we get too deep into this. I have never played dating sim or visual novel before jumping head first into I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator. I have been interested in trying out Doki Doki Literature Club, because I’ve heard there is a lot more to it than what is seen on the surface, and I’m sure at some point we will get to it on Budget Arcade, but that day is not this day.

I am very familiar with the Colonel. I have partaken in his cuisine on several occasions. I know KFC has been trying to make Colonel Sanders a mainstream icon, making him the focus in their commercials, changing the actor that plays him every now and again, just to keep people talking. I also assumed that I Love You Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator was in the same vein, basically a giant commercial for KFC. I’m not wrong, this game is that, but is there an argument to make that there lurks just a little more to it than surface level ads for mashed potatoes. Or an attempt to trick me into believing that coleslaw is edible food for humans. No one wants that stuff, please stop trying to convince people otherwise KFC. Let's find out together.

Spoiler alert, it's not.

From the start you can tell there isn’t much in the way of options. You can control the volume settings, and put the game into windowed mode, but that is about it. With that in mind, I just clicked new game and it began.

Let me show you the first line from this game. “You sleep softly as the morning sun casts a warm glow through the window of your modest student apartment”. Most of the game’s dialogue is the same kind of fake poetic nonsense that you see here. You start off waking up and getting ready for your first day of culinary school. You are attending University of cooking School: Academy for Learning. Yep, that's the name of your school. Let that sink in, and they say the whole thing, multiple times. The school is well renowned for their famous “3 day only semesters”. That’s right, I Love You, Colonel Sanders! follows your entire culinary school career, from start to finish.

You play as protagonist who you name, and you are heard but never seen in game. What gender could you be? That's for the played to decide. The game follows an extremely linear path. Occasionally after a handful of back and forth dialogue you are allowed to make a choice, or you are asked a question and given a few choices to make. It would seem that almost none of them really matter. You can choose who your best friend is stuck partnering with for a cooking project, and she eventually starts to date that person, or you are given a quiz, where if you answer incorrectly the game is just magically over and you can either start back over from that chapter, or just give up entirely. So either you give them the response they want, or you try again.

Along the way you make several friends, your best friend, no name given there, your two rivals, Aeshleigh your main rival, yes it’s spelled that way, yes, they mention how awful that spelling is. Along with Van Van, a robot who's name I have already forgotten, 30 minutes after playing (literally just finished and I can’t think of it) Pop, who’s real name is Bob, but he reads his name tag upside down, it’s borderline that KFC is making fun of a certain type of person, another student who no one remembers his name, your professor, a talking dog named Sprinkles. And of course, you love interest Colonel Sanders. The only other cast members are the Spork monsters that show up here and there. You can say what you want about the game, but the cast of characters are colorful and unique.

Over the ten chapters that take place you will spend your 3 day semester competing in events, taking pop quizzes and ogle at Colonel Sanders. Like I had mentioned earlier you occasionally are allowed to make some choices, the results don’t really matter, the game makes you start over if you don’t answer correctly. Luckily there are a handful of auto saves in this very short game.

Throughout the game you will either help create well known KFC meals, or be introduced to them by the love of your life Colonel Sanders. Here’s another quote from the game. “Colonel sanders lifts a large bucket above his head. It’s contents glimmer in the light”. He has made fried chicken, and the entire class acts like this is the second coming of Jesus. You learn about the Colonel’s history, his love for eleven herbs and spices, and his dreams of opening up a chain of chicken restaurant.

Other events happen along the way, the funniest is when one of you classmates dies from eating poisoned octopus prepared by another student, and the now ghost student wants you to avenge him. Not much else to really talk about. There’s a dark book of cooking magic that tempts you into cheating your way to success. A cooking showdown takes place at the end, but it doesn’t really matter.

I found the art to be well done. Characters do circle back to the one of a handful of poses, but they look good, are funny when they need to be. The music was also pretty great. It fit the mood, whether that was falling in love, or the heavy metal of the cooking competitions. The game looks well, controls are fine, if you can really even call them controls, you basically click through the dialogue.

Again, I have not played a single visual novel or dating sim, but I have to think this is super bare bones. There really isn’t much here beside the occasional funny joke. The dead kid stuff was pretty funny, turns out he’s not really dead, just wants you to remember his name, which when you think of the lengths he goes to in the game it is kinda funny. Most of the jokes miss here though. It was way over the top and missed its mark, if there was really even a mark to be made.

Not to spoil anything, but your last assignment for school is to “get your groove on” at the end of the semester dance. Everyone is happy and you may, or may not end up with Colonel Sanders, either romantically or as a business partner.

Is everything in I Love You, Colonel Sanders! A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator a commercial for the new Famous Bowl they just came out with that combines mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, chicken, and cheese, in either a regular or spicy flavor? Yes, yes it is. Will you have fun on your way to discovering that? No, no you will not.

You can listen Budget Arcade's episode on I Love You, Colonel Sanders! on Anchor, or search for the podcast by name.

Elliot is a part of the weekly Budget Arcade podcast. Find him on Twitter at Elliot_Argues You can also find his other podcasts; Tessa and Elliot Argue, and Wall Pull where you find podcasts.

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