At this point in time, when it comes to dating sims, we’ve seen… maybe not all, but ALOT. From dating a girl-turned-alpaca in PacaPlus, to a horse with a human head in My Horse Prince and even, dating actual real pigeons in Hatoful Boyfriend – and these are only the japanese dating sims that were deemed tame enough to be localised to the west.
So are we really surprised that there is a visual novel called I Love You, Colonel Sanders: A Finger Lickin’ Good Dating Simulator where you can woo a fictional version of Colonel Sanders that is ALSO actually approved by KFC?
The answer is Yes. And I LOVE KFC so this was a pleasant surprise for me.
The premise of the visual novel is fairly simple. You are a student enrolled at the prestigious University of Cooking: Academy of Learning, a culinary school where the semester is only 3 days long (conveniently the length of the narrative) where your last examination will be a food battle showdown in the Broome Cooking Arena. Now if you’ve watched Food Wars!: Shokugeki no Soma, this may seem a little familiar to you as its basically the same plot and if anything, I’m sure that the developers did find some influence from there. In addition to the Colonel himself, you’re also joined by a simple cast of your classmates, rivals and… Sprinkles AKA Professor Dog, a fluffy corgi who is your teacher and headmaster of the school.
In this fictional timeline, the Colonel is just known as a prodigal student who is handsome, talented, aswell as ambitious. However, his dream of opening his KFC franchise has not yet happened nor has the concept of even having chicken in a bucket ever been fathomed before.
Your character finds themselves becoming infatuated with the Colonel and are determined to get him to fall for you, but of course, hijinks ensue as you must defeat your rival who is also aiming for his affections, as well as get over your crippling social awkwardness putting you in embarassing situations with him. Nonetheless, it is your honesty and your passion for cooking that allows you and the Colonel to grow closer. However his passion for his business will always be at the forefront of his mind so whether you can prove yourself to be worthy of being his partner or if you’re willing to be second place in his life is down to you. And just so you know, my first ending was just him handing me some coupon tickets so… those other two endings are still preferable.
The gameplay is nothing different to any other visual novel. The interactivity comes in the form of choices you get during the story that can affect the storyline, such as the Colonels’ affection for you (and therefore, the ending you get) and even get you a game over (which there are ALOT sprinkled throughout the game – even in the beginning if you choose not to get out of bed, BOOM, game over).
However in its defence, it does try to throw you in for a loop and try to keep you entertained in the short 60 minutes or so playtime that you will spend playing it. Whether it will be a quick-time quiz event or a random turn-based battle (which you only attack or defend and the Colonel saves you in either case) it does successfully keep you interested enough to want to know what happens next.
In terms of the graphics, I thought they were pretty good as the screenshots you see are what is in the game. It is simple, yet appealing and consistent (and you have to admit, the Colonel does look like your average handsome main love interest.) The music was simple (I only remember hearing 2 or 3 different songs) but it was enough to convey the feelings of the scenes.
My only real problem was the lack of a history/log option to see any past conversation that you may have missed and also, how the skip button had to be manually clicked and held in the top corner, rather than being a button on your keyboard that you can press or an option that you only need to click once. Small issues but these are the staples in any visual novel, although it can be overlooked as the length of the game was short.
I feel a bit silly rating this as it should go without saying, that this was clearly a fun game created to provide advertising for KFC and was released for the low low price of free. It makes no sense if you go into the game expecting to be blown away with a deep message. With that in mind, the game still offers a good length of gameplay filled with a cute cast of characters, cheesy jokes and a perfect fictional re-imagination of Colonel Sanders that I couldn’t ask more of. If you like KFC and want to dip your toe into the world of visual novels, then this might just be the one to start your journey.
(Just maybe eat before playing… OR, you can buy a bucket of KFC after and have it hit that chicken craving this game will give you.)
I Love You, Colonel Sanders! is free to download on Steam for Windows and Mac.