Tuesday, October 31, 2006

VG REVIEW: Cooking Mama



“COOKING MAMA” 
Majesco, for Nintendo DS

rated E for Everyone (alcohol refer­ence), $19.99.

Where most Western game developers seem content to focus on games that involve hitting or shooting things (not that there’s anything wrong with that), the Japanese are a bit more inclusive, making games based on such mundane events as driving a subway train, going on a date or preparing a meal.

That latter subject matter is the basis for “Cooking Mama,” a recently imported game that, as you might have guessed, tests your culinary skills via the DS touch screen.

The setup is basic. You pick a recipe and follow instructions from Mama (a cute little kerchiefed girl). Most involve using the stylus in some manner, such as rapidly tapping in order to chop onions, or swiping across the screen to knead dough.

Other times you might be asked to blow into the microphone.

There is a time limit to most of these steps, however, giving the game a “WarioWare” flavor, though it’s nowhere near as frenzied. Still, it’s quite easy to fail to add your soy sauce in time, resulting in a rather angry Mama and a low score.

The menu tends to focus on Eastern dishes. A few more dishes from other countries (not to mention desserts) would have been welcome, though players can combine dishes to create odd mixtures (spaghetti Neapolitan with potato salad, anyone?).

Ultimately, though, the problem with “Cooking Mama” is the repetitiveness of the recipes.

While there are a lot to choose from, they all feature similar steps, to the point where they tend to blend together after awhile.

If “Cooking Mama” allowed you to ramp up the difficulty level, or offered more variety to its formula, it would be as near perfect as a cooking game could get. As it stands, it’s a fun but ultimately minor game best suited for the casual player.


Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006

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