Support Sinan, click to buy via us...
Gordon Ramsay, Keith Floyd, Worral Thompson, Ainsley and co please step back, enter Cooking Mama. Available for the Wii and Nintendo DS. Whatever goes into this review, it is unlikely to worry the creators Majesco and Taito, as it's already sold an astonishing 2.6 million Worldwide at the time of writing (Oct 2008). The question on my lips was, is it gonna rise like Jamie Olivers bread, or shall we stick it on the back burner? If you think that was a poor joke, don't respond by flaming me.
The precept for this title is that the gamer follows various unlockable recipes in order to knock up a tasty creation. The recipes are from different Countries and feature all manner of ingredients and dishes. You will find yourself knocking up sandwiches, stews, soups etc. All this involves peeling, chopping, cutting, turning and many more bits of cusine related dexterity. A recipe could have say between 1 and a dozen different steps that have to be performed. For example to make a pasta you firstly chop the onion and garlic, cut the meat, add the salt... I'll stop there, you get the drill. The final step usually involves the actual cooking phase during which the gamer has to add the ingredients, adjust the temperature, stir the items and heat accordingly.
To chop onions you move the controller downwards and slice into quarters.
The above is performed with the main Wii controller unless you are using the DS, where the touch screen is used to good effect it has to be said. To cut meat for example, you move the controller back and forth. To chop onions you move the controller downwards and slice into quarters, before using a rapid chopping motion to dice. For some ingredients arrows are provided on screen for you to follow accordingly. In general the controls are just about OK, at times they can be too sensitive or not sensitive enough. Although the game is rated 3+ the reality is that the controls are too difficult for under 6's in my opinion. A little instruction is given before each stage, in the case of the actual final cooking phase of each recipe, these instructions are shallow and made the process a lot trickier to pick up than was necessary. Fortunately there is a practise mode available.
The graphics can only be described as 1990, the sound is not much further on either. Ingredients are blocky and basic in design and a lot more detail could have been used. The sound really adds nothing to the game and was probably rushed in towards the end of development. In general it's the usual brightly coloured, silly voiced, good feeling design.
Gamers can play against each other or against the wii. Marks are awarded at the end of a dish creation, and the winner is the one with the highest marks. Playing against the computer opponents does offer a decent challenge whilst playing gainst each other is the type of thing that would make a Sunday get together more interesting on a rainy day. More fun could be had if say up to four players could indulge at a time but the title is limited to 2 players. Outside of multiplayer you will probably find yourself occupied by this title for a couple of hours maximum owing to the lack of diversity as you unlock recipes.
The bizarre thing about this title is that it can inadvertently teach you more about cooking whatever your age. It should also be given the thumbs up for possibly inspiring some cullinary interest in youngsters. A missed opportunity would have been to have a separate section that included the full recipe list of those used throughout the game.
As I peeled back the sticker I was amazed to see a price tag of thirty five pounds underneath.
I picked up my copy for less than a tenner, as I peeled back the sticker I was amazed to see a price tag of thirty five pounds underneath. Purchasing this for 35 pounds would be akin to corporate theft, surely it was just an innocent labelling mistake?
I should issue a warning, under no circumstances play this if you are an intoxicated student that is feeling peckish at 1am.
In summary I would say that you would gain a lot more by actually buying the ingredients and cooking them for real... thus enjoying something that you can actually taste, instead of waving a piece of plastic at the television or pushing a screen. Come on students, get a recipe off the net, buy the ingredients and do some cooking, you know it makes sense.
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: