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An authentic cooking game with all the feel of a French restaurant, this was fun, challenging and didn't run out of steam too quickly!
Unlike other cooking games Imagine: My Restaurant (Gourmet Chef in the States) brings the whole restaurant package to the DS. It's set in a French bistro with good-looking but moody chef Jacques and his team. You can choose your character, though choosing either chef or waitress didn't seem to change the game play at all. With 'Ratatouille' style music and Jacques' rich 'Bonjour' greeting this game has a genuine continental feel.
The aim of the game is to advance your career as the new kitchen apprentice. There is a fair amount of narrative between each course invovling the various interactions between the waitress and her diners. This sets the scene and leads onto your upcoming cooking tasks. For example, making something for a visiting child diner or a surprise vegetarian. These are ok to begin with but thankfully I eventually realised they were skippable, leaving me to get on with the real task in hand - the cooking.
I found the cooking itself pretty challenging and really good fun. The interface is much smaller and more detailed that a lot of other culinary games on the DS which takes a bit of getting used to. To that end my first task was to make Beef Bourguignon: select garlic, put on chopping board, select knife, slice using stylus following the on-screen directions, then continue on with onions and carrots.
The game is very thorough and authentic in its dishes and cooking approach. The top screen gives you a scrolling list of tasks. The game gets a bit confused if you skip a step by mistake and at first I was charging ahead trying to do it really quickly and missed the fact that I had to puree my soup before it would let me serve it up. I spent ages wondering why I couldn't progress. You have to wait a couple of seconds after each element of the dish before it scrolls down t your next task. So even though you get marked on how fast you complete your dish, it pays to take it steady! You get marks for speed and quality of your dish and a rating. I haven't made it beyond B-grade chef yet, but I am determined to make the A-grade!
I was glad to see some proper dishes on this game too; no strange east meets west fusions.
I was glad to see some proper dishes on this game too; no strange east meets west fusions. You have some quite complex dishes to prepare, like chocolate fondant, where you have to whip cream and egg whites separately, melt chocolate, and bring it all together before it is baked in the oven. All of this whilst moving between the different areas of the kitchen which are on tabs at the bottom. The dishes get more complex as you progress through the game which really keeps you on your toes. At the end you serve up your dish at the pass (chef speak for the area where the waiting staff collect the food to go out to the diners). You have several things to do here too like adding garnishes in the right order and even a choice of plates.
At the end you get a really nice picture of your efforts which really makes the game feel authentic and professional - dishes really do look classy and very cheffy! Not some grainy blocky cartoon food as in some games.
It is also nice to have something that the older generation can play and enjoy, which doesn't feel like it is aimed at kids all the time.
I think that's what I liked most about this game is its departure away from the quirky kitsch cartoon-like cooking games. It really brings something a bit different to the (ahem) table. It is also nice to have something that the older generation can play and enjoy, which doesn't feel like it is aimed at kids all the time. It was one of those games that I couldn't put down and found my self playing again and again, which was nice after some that I've played which I couldn't wait to put down.
Apart from your missions and a tutorial section there is another element of this game which I nearly overlooked completely; a section listing all the recipes used in the game which are set up so you can cook them yourself. In the usual way there is a list of ingredients, equipment needed and cooking method. Although I have talked quiet positively about the recipes used in the main game I'm not sure I would be so enthusiastic if it actually came to cooking them.
Having scrolled through a few of the dishes to see their cook-a-blity I think my instincts are correct. One dish, Zucchini Gratin, tells you to boil your Zucchini (courgettes) with a bouquet 'garnish'. Now I don't know many people who would know what a bouquet garni (the correct term) is, so telling them to use a bouquet garnish is just going to confuse. For the record a bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs in a muslin bag or tied with string which you use to give flavour to soups or stews. It can easily be removed after cooking.
I think the recipes are best avoided unless you are an experienced cook who can read between the lines and fill some of the gaps in the recipes. I'd be interested to hear from anyone with a positive culinary outcome from using the recipes though. Do any of them really work?
Stick the the main game though and you will find plenty of enthusiasm for becoming a proper master chef. Add this to the grown up style and varied tasks and you have a great little chefing experience.
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