Cooking Mama Nintendo DS
Published by 505 Games
Developed by Taito
Release Date: Out Now
The Nintendo DS with its touch screen control system has really allowed games developers to come up with all different kinds of games. Everything from a being a virtual lawyer (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) to being a virtual doctor (Trauma Centre: Under the Knife). Who would have thought that a cooking game would have been released though? Cooking Mama offers you the chance to cook up to 120 different recipes using all kinds of cooking techniques. Best of all though, it makes the whole thing a bundle of fun that anyone in the family can enjoy.
In Cooking Mama you have a choice of three game modes. You can choose from Let’s Cook, Let’s Combine and Use Skill. Let’s Cook allows you to pick a meal and choose to practice or cook it. You go through the various stages of preparation then cook the meal and in some cases, serve the meal. Let’s Combine allows you to take two recipes and combine them for something unusual. Use Skill allows you to practice all of the cooking skills you’ve used in the Let’s Cook mode. It’s important to make it clear that Cooking Mama isn’t a portable cookbook. Whilst the meals are genuine, the process of creating them has been turned into a series of mini-games. Using only the stylus you’ll be grating, cutting, mashing, slicing, tenderizing, kneading and rolling amongst other things. Of course you can also blow into the microphone when prompted to do so. The range of mini-games you’ll have to perform is quite impressive but it’s not long before you’ll have seen everything the game has to offer in this respect.
Cooking Mama is fun and it’s a great way to pass 20 minutes or so but there’s a real lack of depth here and the long term appeal of the game is questionable. The real problem is that there isn’t much structure to the game. You begin with a handful of recipes and when you complete one recipe, another recipe will be unlocked. Your performance will be rated and you’ll be given a grade by Cooking Mama herself. Other than the desire to go back to a recipe and earn a better grade there’s no real replay value. It wouldn’t have been so bad if you had to earn a certain grade to unlock another recipe but you can make a complete mess of the various stages and Cooking Mama will simply get you out of trouble, allowing you to carry on with the meal. It’s difficult to be too hard on the game because it is enjoyable (and correctly priced at £19.99) but it’s a shame there wasn’t more depth to the game, maybe even a cooking career mode would have been fun.
Graphically Cooking Mama isn’t that impressive. In fact the developers could have easily achieved this level of visual quality if they were creating the game for the GBA. Still this is one instance where the graphical quality doesn’t matter. In fact it’s more important for everything to be easy on the eyes and have personality and this is certainly the case. Cooking Mama herself is a typical anime style character that doesn’t animate but appears in a variety of static images. You’ll see her smiling with delight if you’ve got everything just right and you’ll see her eyes aflame if you make a mess of things.
All of the instructions in Cooking Mama are exclusively in text and you’ll always know exactly what to do. During the mini-games you’re sometimes given directional arrows or lines that indicate where and how you have to move the stylus and it’s all no problem at all for deaf gamers. There is one disappointment though. Each task you have to perform has to be done within a time limit. There’s a clock on the top screen but it’s kind of tricky, depending on the task you’re performing, to keep an eye on it. Hearing gamers will be able to hear the clock ticking and this ticking noise increases in speed as the time grows short so they will not have to take their eyes off the bottom screen. It’s only a minor disappointment though and won’t prevent anyone from enjoying the game.
As we said at the top of the review the Nintendo DS is allowing developers to come up with different kinds of games and these are certainly refreshing from the usual games we see year in and year out. Cooking Mama is definitely an original game and for the most part, it’s a fun one too. There’s not a lot of depth to the game though and it may not be a game you’re going to want to come back to once you’ve had your fill. Still it’s definitely worth considering simply for its novelty value and it’s also a game that children and those who normally wouldn’t be too concerned playing games may find appealing. Here’s hoping the Nintendo Wii version of Cooking Mama can add some extra depth to the recipe.
Cooking Mama lacks depth but for £19.99 it's certainly worth a purchase and makes good use of the handheld's unique control system.