Game: Cooking Mama 4
Developer: Office Create
Publisher: 505 Games
Available on: Nintendo 3DS only
The Cooking Mama games seem to have been around forever, the crazy mix of gameplay and cooking charming people of all ages for years. They’re the type of game that people will scoff and chortle at the mere suggestion of playing any more than we have to and then not be able to put it down again. “I’ll just do one more” is a statement that would often leave my lips while playing the other Cooking Mama games, which is strange because they’re not usually the type of game that I’d be caught playing, plus the fact that I’d probably burn the place down if I ever stepped anywhere near a real kitchen.
Does this fourth game in the series continue my strange attraction to the series or have I served my last meal?
For the most part nothing has really changed between all of the other versions of Cooking Mama and this news iteration on the Nintendo 3DS, everything you know and love is here and looking better than ever with the sprites that seems much more sharper this time around. The main game mode, Lets Cook!, gives the player a choice of various different recipes all of which have differing difficulties associated with them. The main task of the player is to prepare each of the meals exactly the way that Mama tells you to. Most of the actions that players will be asked to complete are rather simple, and much easier to perform than in earlier games of the franchise where you could be performing the correct action but still have points taken away. Whether it’s because Cooking Mama 4 is on the still brand new Nintendo 3DS console, or whether it’s because, after 4 iterations, the people over at Office Create have finally be able to put together a Cooking Mama game that’s a little more accurate. Whatever the reason, Cooking Mama 4 certainly feels like the easiest game to play in the franchise to date.
While most of the game is played using the stylus (and that’s certainly the intended way of playing the game) it is possible to perform some of the actions using the D-Pad and the circle pad. This feels like a nice little addition but not a lot of people will end up playing the game in this manner so it ultimately seems rather redundant. One of the strangest aspects in terms of using the circle pads and D-Pad to play Cooking Mama 4 is that the game never tells the player that a certain small mini game can potentially be played using these methods, the player will often never know that this option is available to them until they just happen to use them by accident.
The sounds used throughout the game serve their intended purpose but it’s by no means top notch, the general sounds of cooking, chopping, frying and all of the other sounds associates with making food are all present and correct, most of them sounding as good as they possibly could on the Nintendo 3DS’ small, low quality speakers. One thing that was noticed as soon as the game was started is that the voiceovers used in the game are a lot more accessible to new players, they all sound familiar and calming, not as if Mama is constantly shouting at you like earlier games in the series would do. This isn’t the end of the world however, most people won’t be putting Cooking Mama 4 into their Nintendo 3DS consoles to listen to the quality of the audio, but it’s something that’s instantly noticeable from the moment the game is started up for the first time.
With Cooking Mama 4 being the first one available on the Nintendo 3DS people will undoubtedly be curious as to how the 3D works within the game; the 3D aspect of the title is extremely subtle with only a few things being set back from the screen, there are only a few areas of the game where you’ll actually notice anything happening in 3D, the first is when Mama charges at you, either to say that you’ve done something good or bad (the charging is very odd too, the first time I saw it I thought I’d done something terribly wrong but then I achieved a gold medal, so I was a little confused), the only other time you will really notice the 3D is when you’ve finished a meal and you are being shown the finished product. In the latter, the 3D, as well as the general graphics of the game actually look quite impressive.
VERDICT: When it’s all said and done, Cooking Mama 4 is just another game in the Cooking Mama franchise, it’s as enjoyable as those games are if you’ve liked them in the past but if you hated them then there’s nothing here to change your mind. If there’s one thing that the DS family of consoles excel at it’s the ability to start and stop a game wherever you want, just close it up and off you go, Cooking Mama 4 follows this ethos by avoiding some of the huge recipes that could have been included in favour of a lot of much shorter ones. With this method players can jump on the bus/train/tube, open their 3DS, play a recipe or two, unlock a few bonuses in the process and still be ready to move when their chosen method of public transport arrives at their stop.
This type of game is what the DS’s are for and Cooking Mama is a good example of this. If you’re looking for a game to pass some time, something that you can keep coming back to but that you don’t need to play it for hours to feel like you’ve accomplished anything, then Cooking Mama 4 is the type of game you’re looking for. Silly, quick and mindless, but fun. Lets cook!