A Delightful Collection Of Mini Games, But With Lack Of Purpose
The quirky Japanese cooking game that is Cooking Mama is a intriguing case, for one things its colourful and delightfully Japanese, however, its far too easy and lacks any real incentive to play, though that will never stop you from having fun for as long as it lasts you.
There are 3 main modes in Cooking Mama; “lets cook” which lets you (as the titles suggests) cook one of the 76 recipes, “lets combine” lets you combine two recipes together to string two sets of mini games and “use skill” provides you a handful of challenges based on the mini games in “lets cook“. Right off the bat there aren’t that many modes and it probably could of done with more and it is the lack of things to do in Cooking Mama that makes it only suitable in short bursts.
In the 76 recipes you will be cooking that includes pizza, sandwiches, rice balls, sushi and even a cup of ramen, Mama (as she is so adequately named) will guide you through the cooking process step by step, you will be cutting, kneading, frying, basically everything you would expect to do in real life. The actual input put in to these tasks via the touch screen is fairly well done to say the least, some are dead easy and some are a little convoluted and tricky, more so than they should be, but the instructions for each task are always there if you can be bothered to read them. Throughout a recipe you will be doing roughly 4 to 7 tasks, and since some of them only take about 5 seconds to do, and 1 recipe wont last you long, some tasks however let you arrange things on a plate and stuff that lets you add more finesse to your meal with no time limit, depending on how long you take could extend the lifetime. Depending on how well you have done you will be scored out of a 100 and given a bronze, silver or gold medal and that’s where the challenge in Cooking Mama practically starts and ends, cooking is easy, but perfecting the tasks isn’t, so getting gold medals every time wont be happening. If its challenge you want then Cooking Mama can provide it in the “use skill” mode, here you can perform the majority of the tasks seen in the main game, only this time they will be a lot harder an ridiculously timed, however this mode doesn’t offer any reward to the player and is just there for a few more moments to kill time aimlessly.
Graphically, Cooking Mama is hard to describe, it seems to have gone for a more realistic look in terms of the food, and in the process, looks a little rough, you can see some very striking pixel problems around the edges of some images and that’s what sadly most of it is, images. The menus and mama her self look very colourful and quirky indeed, that’s not enough for it to really make up for the peculiar looking food although it does help a lot. Games and good soundtracks are becoming more of a staple than luck theses days and Cooking Mama sadly does not deliver that staple, the main game music is just monotonous and boring, its drones on throughout the game and really begins to make you feel like dropping the DS on the floor hoping it would just go away and leave you alone, that said the sound effects in Cooking Mama are actually pretty good, things fry, things boil, and things just get cooked in a convincing and generally good way.
Overall Cooking Mama just doesn’t have enough going for it, it often pleases with its visual style and certain mini games that do require some skill (its shame its only some) but above all that the one problem still remains, there’s no real purpose, no real sense of achievement, no reward, its simply just a time killer that can be enjoyed in short bursts. If your looking for a DS game that will provide you with hours of play and will be most likely in your DS away from the dust than actually collecting the dust, this game isn’t for you, however, if your just looking for something fun and quirky for a few hours then its worth giving Cooking Mama a shot.