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Hell's Kitchen is the chef Gordon Ramsay's cooking program, before he moved onto the wider gameshow remit of The F-Word. The DS game uses the program as a theme for its various catering based activities.
Party games provide short bursts of fun themed around novel leisure activities. In contrast to sports games that try and recreate the whole experience, party games take one element and create a game around that.
As their name suggests party games are designed to be played with multiple players and work well in a party situation - either an after dinner event or a novelty in the corner of the room throughout the evening.
Although not unique, Hell's Kitchen does a surprisingly good job of re-creating a cooking experience out of three linked mini-games. First there is the front of house reception, second is the waiting on tables, finally the actual cooking of the dishes.
The simplicity of the first two tasks and game's reliance on time management is reminiscent of the early Game and Watch titles. Parachute Game and Watch or Cement Factory Game and Watch both set the player a similar task - cope with an increasing flood of buttons to press.
In this case the buttons are tapping on guests as they arrive, order, are served and finish their meal. This then revolves around the central cook activity. Here the player must add ingredients to different timed pots, ensuring they are ready at the same time. Throughout the game, Gordon Ramsay's berating tones respond to every missed moment and dropped dish.
Players will be drawn to the game who enjoyed the TV series, and indeed find Gordon's robust (some would say agressive) style of kitchen management appealing. As players learn to manage both front of chouse, multiple covers and complex cooking there is a real sense of achievement to the experience. Certainly, managing to extract praise from Gordon's lips is cause for celebration in its own right.
As with the simple Game and Watch titles, this game can be played in short sessions of ten minutes or so - expanding to multiple sittings where more time is available. Most players will have progressed through the levels within fifteen hours or so, but the focus on achieving the perfect service ensures the incentive to replay levels remains high.
Ironically, although Hell's Kitchen's activities are well suite for younger players, Godon's sharp tongue and (beeped out) expletive comments make it less suitable for them.
Those a little older, who are comfortable with the narrated tone, will enjoy the simplicity of this title. The cooking task, because of it's tight time management requirements, is a lot harder than the other activities, but offers some great education value. Player must calculate the difference in cooking times to ensure they start dishes at the right moment. They then have to match the coloured ingredients with those on the recipe.
Intermediate and Expert players, apart from those who have a particular penchant for simple Game and Watch style games are likely to find the experience a little simplistic for their tastes.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: