Cooking and gaming have some similarities-- there are multiple steps to complete before finishing them, they require a wide variety of "moves" to be successful, and they are best served when piping hot. OK, scratch that last one. Majesco's Cooking Mama is a fun combination of Julia Child and Wario Ware and a must for fans of micro-gaming or kitchen mavens.
Though there are a few different modes, most of the action happens when players select Let's Cook from the main menu. You can unlock recipes as you go and even if you consistently fail each step, you still can complete a recipe. While this eliminates challenge, it also eliminates possible frustration-- players are never stuck on one particular recipe and they can replay them to win bronze, silver, or gold medals to their hearts' content.
Each recipe has several phases, whether it's as simple as measuring water or as tricky as filling dumplings. Controls are fairly responsive, but the goals are somewhat unclear as in Wario Ware. Since each phase only lasts 10 seconds at most, players have a chance to learn from their mistakes, but the lack of any tutorial is interesting.
The majority of cuisine represented is Japanese. They also have some American dishes, but with a Japanese touch (spaghetti cooked in a frying pan with a dash of ketchup?!). Having lived in Japan for a month, I have to attest to the accuracy of the dishes represented here. Gyoza (fried dumplings) and udon (typically soup with thick noodles in a fish-based broth) are more typical of Japanese cuisine than chicken teriyaki and fried ice cream.
I wish the game would reward you with actual recipes, however. Just imagine bringing the DS to the kitchen to try out a recipe you just completed virtually! Maybe a Cooking Mama cookbook is in the works?
As a whole, the game is a lot of fun, though somewhat short. Anyone else have a chance to play it?
I must say I find the game pretty innovative but I tend to become bored with it over time. Great quirky little game though!
Mark Vergeer - Editor / Pixelator
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
I've only played it briefly, but my daughter loves it.