TGS 2023: Hands-On with Chill Bartending Sim ‘Bar Island’

Regular readers might know that for the last few Tokyo Game Show events, ol’ Shaun hasn’t been flying solo the way he used to. I’ve had a cameraman along for the ride, handling things like taking photographs, shooting videos so that I don’t have to play one-handed, and pepping me up when I inevitably crash from exhaustion halfway through the day. To the extent that TouchArcade’s Tokyo Game Show coverage has expanded, it is because of the cameraman. He’s also my son, and he’s picking up his old man’s habits. While I was resting in a chair outside one of the halls, he only went and found a cool mobile game all on his own to show you all. It’s called Bar Island, and while the video this time lacks my monotone narration, I think you’ll get the drift of the game by watching it.

The setting of Bar Island sees you teaming up with Grandpa Gnome, a well-traveled fellow who has decided to settle down and start up a bar in his very own treehouse. It’s conveniently located in a coastal town, so there are plenty of thirsty patrons who could potentially stop by to whet their parched throats. Each of those patrons has a story to tell, and they’ll be happy to spill if you mix up the right drinks. Think of a cozy, mobile version of something like VA-11 Hall-A. Well, maybe not that deep story wise, but you know, along those lines.

The main gameplay consists of finding out the drink the character wants, figuring out how to make it, choosing the right ingredients, and then properly mixing it up. There are various systems in play here, from the puzzle-like selection of what goes into the drink to the minigame-style events for actually creating them. On top of all of that, you’re also in charge of decorating the bar itself. You can collect various decorations by playing the game and can place them as you see fit. Perhaps setting out certain arrangements will bring in new patrons?

After you serve the patron their favorite drink, you’ll get a little story from them. These are mostly short bits of wisdom, but they sometimes involve more than that. All of the characters are really cute, up to and including Grandpa Gnome himself. Part of the charm is in seeing these adorable little creatures sidle up to the bar and order a Mojito or what-have-you. You can see the general look of the game, along with how many of the systems work, in the video my son recorded. As I said, there’s no narration here and unfortunately no one is speaking English. Those who can understand Japanese will get a bit more out of it, but you can probably follow it well enough just by watching.

When will Bar Island release? It’s hard to say with any precision, but it certainly seems quite far along at this point. It will most likely be localized, as there are an awful lot of English elements in the game already. We’ll keep you updated on this game as more information comes in, but for now just enjoy the relaxing vibes juxtaposed with the noise of the Tokyo Game Show floor. I guess I need to watch out, my son might be coming for my job sooner than I thought!

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