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Cooking Mama Package Art
Cooking Simulation
Majesco Entertainment

Cooking Mama

Cooking is universal, and everyone loves to participate, which makes a cooking game a smart choice to turn into a DS title. Combined with the right mechanics, a cooking simulator could be truly entertaining. Enter Majesco Entertainment and Taito's quirky and unique cooking sim, Cooking Mama, which goes where no game has ever gone before, to the kitchen!


Considering that the main focus of Cooking Mama is the unique control mechanics, graphics were probably not a priority. All the graphics are in a two-dimensional form with great color, so things are going to be simple but nice to look at. Ingredients and foods are bright and vibrant, but lack a whole lot of detail. Telling them apart is usually fairly simple, but sometimes certain ingredients will look too similar to another. It isn't a big deal because you will not be quizzed on what ingredients are similar in color to another, but it's disappointing nonetheless.

Although some detail is lacking in the food and ingredients, there seems to be quite a bit of action going on when you cook. When frying ingredients, they sizzle and smoke, adding a bit of realism to the actual cooking. For example, when frying pork on a pan, you will notice it start to smoke up; if the pork gets left on for too long, it will begin to burn and turn black. The details in the effects are impressive.


Nothing mind-blowingly impressive came out of the DS speakers, but some interesting effect sounds did make things a bit more realistic. Sizzling, steaming, chopping, boiling, blowing, and just about any action you can perform in Cooking Mama has a corresponding sound. Each corresponding clip is unique and sounds pretty good; but it's not as if different ingredients have different sounds. So while a respectable variety of cooking clips can be heard, it's not quite as much as one would hope for in a game that is specifically about cooking.

The music is possibly the most treacherous part to Cooking Mama. The quality of the cheery menu music is fine, but it just gets replayed over and over. The same music appears in every menu and every meal you cook, so if you're a person who goes insane over this type of thing, watch out.


Cooking Mama has a few different modes that all revolve around a series of cooking minigames. The main mode is "Let's Cook", in which Mama, who I presume is your mother, will lay out up to 76 dishes for you to attempt. After selecting a dish, minigame after minigame will appear until the dish is completed. Each minigame requires you to do certain things, such as pour rice, chop cucumbers, peel lettuce, stir a boiling pot of soup and various others. Every minigame uses the stylus or microphone in some way, so cooking these dishes is fun. After completing all the minigames, Mama will give you a score and a medal based on how accurate you were in the minigames. Since the minigames are fairly easy, you should have no problem getting at least a silver medal in every dish you attempt; and as long as you complete a dish, you unlock a new one.

The minigame set up for cooking is fun at first, but after a while, the novelty wears off. The game makes great use of the stylus and touch screen, but the game doesn't progress much past unlocking new dishes to attempt. After the twenty or so dishes, the incentive to continue playing through the main mode wears thin. This is rather disappointing, especially considering how strong and responsive the controls are.

Cooking Mama also allows players to combine two dishes that may go well together, such as rice with fried dumplings, which would be called a dumpling rice bowl. This is virtually the same as the main mode except it features more minigames in one sitting. Another mode, "Use Skill," lets you take on a series of challenges involving the skills you learn when cooking. For example, in "Chop" you are told to chop up a certain vegetable as fast as you can before the time runs out. This can be pretty intense as you'll find yourself tapping at the screen to cut vegetables in a flurry of speed.

Actually being able to tap at the screen to chop, or make swirling motions to stir soup certainly makes Cooking Mama a unique title to play, but it's too bad that there isn't a whole lot after the initial wave of fun.




Cooking Mama is one of those non-games that can really grab the attention of virtually anyone, gamer or non-gamer. Controls are tight and responsive, and offer up an entirely new experience, especially since Cooking Mama is one of the first of its kind, but the experience will not last. Cooking Mama will give most players a solid three to four hours of fun and unique control experience. In the end, Cooking Mama is like an onion on a frying pan: it smells strong at first, but once it burns, it begins to smell old and nasty.

final score 6.4/10

Staff Avatar Allen Wagner
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"Princess Peach just got 10 times hotter!"

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