Cooking Mama: Cook Off Review
If you’re looking to Cooking Mama: Cook Off to make you a great chef, then you’ll be in for a disappointment. Cooking Mama is more a collection of food-themed mini games than it is a cooking sim and playing the game will no more turn you into Emeril than a snowboarding game will turn you into Shaun White. That being said, let’s take a look at those mini games and see if they’re enough fun to keep you distracted while your mac and cheese burns on the stove.
Cooking Mama’s main mode of play presents you with a collection of international dishes and challenges you to complete the associated mini game collection within a set time limit. Apparently the game’s designers don’t think much of American cuisine or are hopelessly clueless about it as the first several American recipes include stovetop popcorn and hot dogs rather than more respectable dishes such as Cajun blackened catfish or New England clam chowder. At least they skipped the deep-fried cheesecake. Anyway, each recipe takes you through the steps of preparing the dish through the use of the previously mentioned mini games. Vegetables are chopped by swinging the remote up and down with your wrist, pots are stirred by holding the remote upright and moving it in a circular motion, and spices are added by pointing at the spice jar and shaking it over the dish. All of these various mini games are timed and you must successfully complete them within the time limit or you’ll risk failing the recipe or ruining the dish. Succeed and you’ll be scored on the speed and quality of your performance and you may unlock new recipes as well.
Cooking Mama suffers from a couple of issues, the first of which is endemic to mini game collections and the second which is unique to this game. There simply is not enough variety in the mini games to hold your interest for very long. Once you’ve chopped a few times it doesn’t matter if you’re chopping a carrot or celery, you’re still just waving the controller up and down for a few seconds. Like most mini games, this gets old pretty quickly. Cooking Mama’s unique issue is that the controls are not very sensitive. The game often fails to register a chop or stir or similar motion, which adds some challenge to the game but in an unwelcome form. Some mini games don’t seem to work well with the controls at all, such as an egg-breaking game that’s impossible to play with any consistency.
In addition to the single player mode the game has a cooking face-off mode either versus a friend or the computer. In these you perform the same step of a recipe simultaneously on a split screen. This adds a little bit of pressure to the game but these modes suffer from the same issues as the single player game.
As far as presentation goes, if you’re into bright cutesy anime then you’ll be right at home here. Mama likes to pipe up a lot while you’re playing but her accent is so thick that you’ll have difficulty understanding what she’s saying. The things that you do understand quickly grow repetitive. It’s hard not to get annoyed when you hear “Better than Mama!” after nearly every mini game.
The cooking game concept is off the wall enough to have the potential to be a fun party game, but Cooking Mama is not challenging or deep enough to pull it off. Instead it gives you too much repetition and frustration, kind of like getting stuck eating meatloaf every night. Pass on this home cooked meal and order out.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 59%. This dish is served tepid.