Setup & Timing
Cooking Mama's setup is simple and too the point, like the game itself. There aren't any meaningless options and everything makes sense, even
when certain translations aren't gramatically correct. The download itself takes a little under 45 seconds and the game can be played, from powering
up the host's Nintendo DS system to completion (by the guest) of the demo, in under six (6) minutes.
Menus & Navigation
After tapping "Start" on the lower screen to begin, there are four menu options: Let's cook, Let's combine, Use skill, and Options. The Demo
is located under Options (of course) as it is the only sensible location for it. All of the fields are large and easy to tap without accidentally
tapping the wrong area. The only thing that is even a little suspect is the "Initialize Data" on the Options menu, which wipes out the saved memory.
A confirmation screen does appear, however, before it wipes away your progress.
Ease Of Use / Play Control
Play is controlled entirely via the touch screen. There is no option to use the buttons; Cooking Mama could easily be a G Touch Generations
title if Nintendo had published it. The controls are very intuitive as long as you are paying attention to what you are doing. Don't go too fast with
certain actions like chopping or making the steak's shape, however, or the responsiveness will drop a little bit.
Category Score: 12.5 / 15
Most of the graphics and designs are cartoony, which works well in a casual-play game about cooking. The food is a little bit more
photo-realistic, but not convincingly so; it's still cartoony enough to fit in well with the rest of the game's designs. The piano music in the
background is quite repetitive and is an OK (but not great) backdrop. You WILL want to play with the sound on, however, because the sound
effects really help make the game. In the Single-Card Download feature, there is only one recipe to choose from. A few options of which recipe could
have been downloaded would be nice.
The Nintendo DS has done something that no video game system (portable or otherwise) did before it (several things, in fact, but one in
particular): it's attracted a slew of casual, non-hardcore gamers. People who don't divest large amounts of time to in-depth, detailed, time-consuming
video game have bought the Nintendo DS. These people come from almost every demographic: men, women, children, young, old... you name it. While first
person shooters, fighting games, and complex role-playing games appeal to the hardcore gamers, the influx of casual gamers want games they can pick up,
play for a short time, and put back down. Many puzzle games fit into this category, but not every casual gamer likes Puzzle games (and some of the
ones that do like puzzle games don't want to stick exclusively to puzzle games). This is where Cooking Mama comes in.
Cooking Mama, while appealing to most types of gamers, is targeted at the casual game player. It doesn't give you recipes. It guides you
through the preparation of food. You chop, you slice, you grate, you mix, you shape, and you do a whole lot of other things while preparing the food.
Each time you "prepare a recipe" in the game, the process takes a few minutes - nothing that requires a lot of time to play.
Simply put, Cooking Mama is fun. It's nothing you need a strategy guide for. It doesn't involve complicated controls. It's the type of game
you can just sit down and play. The demo recipe is Salisbury Steak - simple, straight forward. You can easily master the demo after two or three
times playing through, and the repetitiveness is somewhat lessened by the drive to beat your own high score. A few more recipe options would obviously
increase the variety, but the demo does exactly what it's supposed to do: it gives a sample of what the main game is like in an accurate, fun
An expanded downloadable menu (with the host selecting one recipe from a list prior to the download).
The ability to create original recipes and then allow for them to be downloadable.
The ability to draw (pictochat-style) new side items, and to include them in downloadable demos.
Full Vs Play competition mode (a la one of the TV chef competitions).
Category Score: 11.5 / 15
Overall Single-Card Download Rating: 76 / 100 (a.k.a. 38/50)
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