I first played Cooking Mama back in 2006 on the Nintendo Wii and it was glorious. Booting the game up would bring me hours upon hours of joy and I have many fond memories of waving my Wiimote around to create several different courses and meals. This spurred me to then buy it on the Nintendo DS and my mind was completely blown with the idea of portability – I could make so many dishes on the go! Sadly, my Cooking Mama adventures stopped here as my gaming interests changed with age… Until now, that is.
Cooking Mama Sweet Shop is the latest game in the franchise to hit the Nintendo 3DS, a whopping three years after it released in Japan. It involves you creating a whole plethora of desserts and then selling them to the public in your very own sweet shop – with the help of Mama, of course. You follow dessert recipes in the form of mini-games using the touch screen and it can be anything from melting butter in a pan to folding crêpes and coating apples in caramel without burning them. A lot of recipes allow you to decorate your finished product however you’d like, which feels quite rewarding and adds a tiny element of personalisation to a game that’s otherwise just following guides.
Each dessert has multiple stages of cooking and you are scored depending on how well you perform the techniques in each section. You receive either a bronze, silver or gold medal once you’ve finished, depending on how you fared and your creation can be put up on display in your shop; the more you display, the more your shop will expand in size and the more recipes will become available to create. Members of the public will visit your shop and buy your creations for in-game currency which can then be used to buy various decorative items such as wallpaper and shelves and also accessories for Mama.
The biggest flaw the game has is that none of the mini-games are particularly challenging, but when you think about the fact it’s probably made mainly for children, I do understand the difficulty choice a bit more. A way this could have been solved is to add a difficulty setting, therefore making it more enjoyable for players across all ages. I only failed when I either forgot to adjust a heat setting and something burned or I let the timer run out. I remember the previous Cooking Mama titles being more of a challenge, but maybe it’s because I was a child at the time – I simply don’t know. Regardless of how much you mess up a recipe, you’re still rewarded for it and you’re still able to put it on display for customers to purchase which feels a bit strange to me, unless for some reason customers prefer their fruit tartlets burnt.
This is essentially the game in its entirety. Although there are plenty of recipes to whip up, it still feels barren and becomes incredibly repetitive and boring after a couple of hours of playtime. There is a multiplayer mode, but it’s just more of the same slog with the only upside being that it utilizes the Download Play feature so you only need one copy of the game between friends. I think the game is definitely more suited to children (and young children at that), which disappoints me as someone who played the Cooking Mama games as a kid and wanted to relive the excellent experience I once had. If you’ve got a young child who would be interested in this then go for it, otherwise I’d recommend leaving Mama where she should have stayed – in the past.
Plenty of recipes to create
Good for young children
Mini-games are too easy
No variety in content