Cooking Mama seems like it was meant for iPhone. Originally brought out on DS, the game employed stylus based gameplay where you are tasked to create a number of culinary delights by slicing, dicing, stirring and sautéing your way through mini games before being rated for the final dish. A Wii version was later released adding to it accelerometer based gameplay for a more hand realistic feel for some of the game elements such as frying and chopping. SO it makes perfect sense that Taito bring this franchise to the iPhone, allowing them to pull off a hybrid of both the DS and Wii editions.
Now some of you out there will love cooking. Others may see it as more of a chore. So you’d think that a game about cooking would not appeal to the latter. However, this isn’t a training tool, and in no way will teach you how to cook. The game is more inline with a mini game compilation such as Wario Ware, where it’s more about speed than skill… just wrapped up in a cooking theme.
On the other end of the scale, wannabe Gordon Ramsey’s out there may disappointed that this game is more of a toy than a learning tool, and may find it a bit shallow. To enjoy this game it’s best to take it as it is…. a fun game and nothing more.
You have two options when you boot up the game, Let’s cook and Cooking contest.
Let’s cook is the meat and potatoes of the game. You are tasked by Mama to cook various dishes. Only a selection of these are available from the outside, but as you progress you unlock more.
You’ll be cooking… hamburgers in sauce, potato salad, various soups, oriental dishes such as shrimp gyoza, tempura, spring rolls and Sakuramochi… as well as the corner stone of most diets, Pizza and cupcakes!! The object of the game is to complete each dish to Mamas liking. Each dish is broken down into mini games, with most starting out with preparation such as chopping veg, removing shrimp shells and separating the yoke from the egg. And finishing in cook based mini’s such as frying, sauté and stirring. She’ll reward you with either a bronze, silver or gold medal for each of these, and then once the dish is complete you get an overall average of that score. Impress Mama and she’s all smiles, but if you fail, she won’t be happy at all, presenting you with a grimace and rather creepy and demonic burning eyes.
Cooking contest allowing you to replay the mini games you unlocked in the main game, and play them at various skill levels. This mode is more akin to WarioWare, and adds a bit more replayability to the main game.
Graphically the game sticks to it’s 2D, DS, like roots. The style is very Japanese, with vibrant colours and thick outlines. It doesn’t look terrible, in fact some of the sprite effects are done quite well, but it’s certainly geared towards a younger, pre teen crowd.
Sound is equally cutesy. The music is annoyingly sweet and charming. Sound effects consist of suitable cooking sounds, which blend well with the action… in fact the sizzling sound of frying and sautéing resulted in my belly rumbling on more than one occasion.
As mentioned before, it’s a bit of a no-brainer that this game was brought out for iPhone. But the game does seem a little rushed in places. Some of the touch based tasks seem a little wonky. For example, a mini game that requires you to slide your finger in the direction indicated on screen, in order to kneed some dough, would occasionally fail to register my finger swipes completely, causing me to fail that task and feel the wrath of Mama’s burning eyes! I think this is down to the porting of this style of gameplay from the DS version, and not accounting for fat fingers versus the more precise stylus.
Another throw back from the DS version is when a game requires you to tilt the iPhone into portrait mode. Showing that instead of redrawing the game art to fit in landscape, any game that employed the Dual Screens of the DS, have been simply converted to iPhone as is. If a bit more care time had been given to it’s production. All mini games could have been adapted to landscape, or indeed portrait. While it’s not a huge problem, it does break the flow of the game.
Presentation & graphics
Looks like a Nintendo game. Cute and bright. But in this day and age of smooth flash graphics, the pixelated style looks a bit dated, and it’s a shame more time wasn’t allocated to make the game look better on the iPhone screen.
Depending on your taste, the music might be too sweet on the ears for some. But it is well produced. The sound effects are realistic and fit well with the action. Avoid playing when you are hungry, the sounds will make your belly groan.
It’s fun, but not overly challenging. The best thing about the game is the different ways the iPhone’s abilities are used in the mini games, such as tapping, dragging, pinching, flipping and shaking. However, as mentioned before the controls are not perfect. I would have liked to see the Wii’s ‘Cook off’ online multiplayer elements included. Maybe next time.
Most tasks in the main game can be completed with a gold award… and you’ll unlock all the dishes in a few hours. The cooking contest ads some replayability, but overall it’s not something you’ll come back to once you’ve tasted all it has to offer.
Cooking Mama arrived on the scene with little fanfare. Considering it’s quite a big franchise I find that surprising. It’s a fun game, but it does seem a little rushed out the door, with more of a whiff of ‘Hey let’s port this over to iPhone and make a quick buck’. With a little more time in the oven, this game could have been baked to a nice golden glow, but for now… it’s a little rare!
Cooking Mama is available now for $6.99 (£3.99), good value if you factor in the price of the DS and Wii editions.