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A Pioneer Or A Let Down
Cooking Mama is the first of 3 DS games of the same name. Since Cooking Mama is the first, it is like a pioneer, except I'm not sure what it is a pioneer of. A crappy idea made into a crappier game? I really don't know. Let's take a look at these little Nintendo DS cooking games and see if you think that they really deserved a whole series of cooking games of their own.
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As you can see, Cooking Mama has no story. It's straight off the bat to the gameplay. So, what is that like? Well, I'll tell you. You are given a list of recipes that you can complete. By completing each recipe new recipes open up.
To complete each recipe you use the touch screen to do various activities in a very mini game like setting. For example, to make gyoza (a Chinese dumpling) you have to chop the cabbage by making slashing motions with your stylus. For boiling an egg, you have to turn the heat up and down on the stove and blow on the water (only, that's not how you really boil eggs).
However, the problem is the game doesn't always register a movement. I would be slicing to my hearts content while the knife stayed stubbornly still. Also, there is a mini game in which you add ingredients to a pot. The top screen shows the ingredient and you have to add them all before time runs out. The problem is if you add it too early, you fail. If you let time run out, you fail. I guess I'm just not fast enough because even when I knew what to add, I failed. Frustrating? Yes.
After you finish a recipe you get a score on it. These scores seemed totally arbitrary. In some I got lower scores when I'd done more correctly (and gotten more Goods and above) while in others I got higher scores yet I'd messed up more.
Overall, the gameplay in Cooking Mama is as frustrating and nonsensical as trying to cook a chocolate soufflé over a campfire.
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Graphics and Sound
Graphic wise Cooking Mama is okay. It is an earlier DS game and the graphics are quite simple and cartoony, but they work for the game. Cooking Mama's overall look is very Japanese (surprise surprise!) but I enjoy it.
The sound in Cooking Mama is equally okay. While it doesn't have the best music or sound effects they work for this style of game. The sound of food frying is kind of spot on as well. They did do a good job with chopping noises too.
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As a cook I was not impressed. Maybe people who don't know anything about cooking would find Cooking Mama fun, but I didn't. The grades on each recipe were annoying, plus you get a new recipe even if you fail, so what is the point? If cooking in real life was anything like Cooking Mama, I'd never do it.
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Cooking Mama was not my cup of tea. I know other people have really enjoyed it, but I can't get on board with them. Don't waste your money on pretending to cook. There is no pay off. Learn to cook instead of playing Cooking Mama. That way, at least you can enjoy your successes.
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More Nintendo DS Articles
Craving more Nintendo DS games? Want to know which games you should rent and which you should just leave on the shelf? Here are some great Nintendo DS reviews that you cannot miss out on: