March 16th, 2007, 02:12 Posted By: wraggster
Last year Majesco gave us Cooking Mama on the DS. It was a killer cooking game, a bit on the shallow side, and a little too simple to be considered one of the best games of the year, but despite our gripes with the game, it was still a ton of fun to play. In fact, along with games like Brain Age and Big Brain Academy, Cooking Mama still remains to be one of the top titles we shove into the face of non-gamers. Cooking Mama doesn't have the speed of Wario Ware or the depth of the brain games, but it does have a simplistic charm and a loveable concept that anyone can - get ready for the pun - sink their teeth into. We couldn't resist.
And after we were done ripping through the DS version in a matter of hours (yes, it was that addicting for a few of us), we eagerly awaited the inevitable Wii announcement that would promise skillet flipping, egg cracking, pot stirring, and chop chopping. As expected, the announcement came, and like many other DS-to-Wii transitions the game stays extremely true to its roots, ups the graphics just a bit, and delivers nearly the game gameplay concepts.
Garnishing the beef broth like a freakin' champ.Now that we've had a chance to take the game for an initial spin, whipping up a couple dozen dishes in the process, we'd be sugar-coating the truth to say we aren't at least a little disappointed. The style is there, the "Engrish" speaking is there, and the cooking is definitely there, but the overall feel of the game is just a bit more detached and less personal than its pocket predecessor. The game is by no means bad (in fact we keep coming back to it; proof that the charm is still there), but the transition from stylus to pointer is a bit too direct for our liking.
In Cooking Mama: Cook Off, players will step into Mama's kitchen, practicing and preparing a variety of dishes from around the world. Whether you take your time in practicing each step before attempting a full serving, or if you're more into the straight-forward improvisational challenge, the ultimate goal is to pick your poison, prepare the food step-by-step, and impress Mama enough to gain access to more dishes. The better you do, the larger your recipe book gets. Simple, but entertaining.
Go flan go!Where Cooking Mama: Cook Off is a bit of a letdown is in the way you interact with the game, as the Wii remote's primary function will be the IR control. In the DS version players would draw to slice food, grab ingredients a physically place them into pots and pans, or trace designs to fold gyoza or stir ingredients in a pot. While there are a few of these actions in the Wii version - players will literally stir with the Wii remote, chop up and down, and saw back and forth through slabs of meat - many of the actions are still done simply with a cursor, so cutting meat is more about tracing a line, and adding ingredients is a click-and-drag movement.
The split between the two types of play (cursor and action) are still about 50/50, so you'll still be mimicking moves to pull off cooking maneuvers quite a bit, but the feeling is just more of a detached experience. Cracking eggs, for example, centered around physically touching the egg on DS, and slamming the stylus down to crack it. Now it's done by moving the Wii remote softly from left to right. Once you make the move, the game interprets it and gives you the outcome. The feeling of cooking is still there, but the tactile experience is lost with the incorporation of IR.
That isn't to say players should write this one off, as there's still a ton of content for us to explore (two-player mode will have to wait for another day), and dozens and dozens of recipes for us to master. In addition, many of the actions - such as coating a pan in butter or whipping a bowl of eggs - feel much better with the Wii controller than they did on DS, and that many of the actions that do support Wii gestures instead of IR add to the overall experience a ton. It's going to come down to how many of those actions are in the remaining parts of the game, and whether or not they make up for the lack of tactile feel during the other portions.
On the presentation side, Cooking Mama's transition is a decent one, and while the graphics aren't meant to be mind-blowing the game displays in 16:9 and 480p, and has a crisp look to it. Icons are large, colors are vibrant, and the audio is still just as lively (and crazy) as it was on DS. The addition of a worldwide theme for the dishes (each region has specific methods for cooking) and the "Everybody Cook" multiplayer mode could go a long way in the end.
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