Cooking Mama

We can’t deny that there’s a low budget feel to this quirky cooking sim – not surprising considering it’s available on US import sites for as little as £12.99. Cheap as chips, you might say. If you buy very expensive chips.

cookingn.jpgIt’s basically Wario Ware: Cooking Edition; you pick a dish, then create your meal by playing numerous speedy mini-games before having it judged by the titular chef herself. Some dishes involve several stages – pealing, cutting, boiling, mixing, dressing – others, like making the Japanese equivalent of a Pot Noodle, just have one. Filling the pot with boiling water up to the ‘fill point’, in that case.

All of the food preparation – and the whole game, for that matter – is controlled with the stylus. Crack eggs by dragging them towards the bowl (but not too fast, or they’ll break), cut carrots by tapping the screen, kneed dough by following the arrow prompts, peel potatoes by running the peeler over them, rub butter onto a frying pan – the list goes on and on.

The actual cooking stages last the longest and aren’t dissimilar to a rhythm-action game, requiring you to perform actions as prompted. Actions like turning the gas up and down, adding salt and pepper, and blowing on food via the mic to cool it down.

If you mess up a dish then Mama will either fix it or ask if you want to change it to something else. For example, if you burn meat intended for a curry she’ll ask if you want to make a stew instead. After successfully creating a dish, more often than not a new one is unlocked. Most are oriental meals – like octopus dumplings, grilled gyoza, soba and udon – although there are a good few traditional dishes too like pizza, meat pie, omelette, Salisbury steak and the humble sandwich.

There are some nice touches, liking being asked to put a tomato ketchup smiley face on your omelette as the finishing touch, and some dishes have mini-games unique to that dish only – like cutting up a crab then pulling the meat out of its legs to make ‘Chinese style crab and egg’. Plenty are repeated though – mostly the vegetable preparation ones. If you’re feeling adventurous then you can combine dishes, but once you’ve got good grades for everything it’s unlikely that you’ll want to put your chef gloves on again.

It’s quite interesting to find out what grilled gyoza, soba and udon actually are, but you certainly shouldn’t see it as tool to learn how to cook them. If you do want to woo your friends and family, then what you need is the Japan-only Shaberu! DS Ryouri Navi instead. That has photos, FMV clips showing how to cut meat and all sorts. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to get back to the kitchen.

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