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Imagine Happy Cooking doesn't really hit the mark in any department. Certainly no where near as good as its rival Cooking Mama DS, it tries to imitate some of the same cooking tasks, but not nearly so well. With a long character narrative to begin with, which had only vague connections with the theme of cooking there wasn't enough game in this game for me.
After 20 minutes of the introductory narrative I really wondered if I had put the right game card into the DS. The image on the box really lead me to believe this was a cooking game!
The back story is very odd, the main character Lisa rambling on about how she needs to cook for her father who is away on business. Then her toys get abducted by aliens and start talking to her - yes, it really is that strange. Try as I might the game wouldn't let me skip this part, which was nearly the end of it for me.
Eventually after all this melodrama was over I actually got to do some cooking. Most are just simple cooking tasks like chopping and stirring and preparing a combination of dishes for a meal. These combinations are very strange: Sunnyside up eggs, rice and miso soup. Something tells me this was dreamt up in the Far East - with the eggs being a nod towards western cuisine. Disappointingly the game doesn't really let you do much wrong.
I guess this means the game will appeal to younger children who may find something like Cooking Mama a bit too challenging.
For example filling up a saucepan with water you just touch the tap and the water comes out to the right level, no real skill involved. The same went for the food preparation; again the game does a lot for you, all you need to do is tap your bowl of rice and it is tipped into the saucepan for you.
I guess this means the game will appeal to younger children who may find something like Cooking Mama a bit too challenging. You get to customise your meal at the end by adding your favourite table cloth and garnishes, then get a final score from your kitchen helper Rachel (maybe that's who the girl on the cover is supposed to be?!) This is really all there is to the main part of the game.
Annoyingly after each dish I cooked it was back to another long narrative, which again I couldn't skip. Apart from this there were some fun little mini games thrown in like washing up as fast as you can darts and other puzzles. I suppose this may provide some fun and entertainment for someone, but I think the way the game has been marketed is very misleading. You have been warned!
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