Cooking Mama

Nothing starts off a wonderful day like some bacon and eggs. Later on I could enjoy a nice turkey sandwich for lunch, and some steak and potatoes for dinner. Sounds like an ideal life to me, except of course, I'm in college. So most likely I'll be replacing that bacon and eggs with a Pop Tart, skipping lunch altogether, and dinner will be ramen noodles ...again. The money I could be spending on such gourmet cooking is most likely being loaded into my PlayStation or DS, instead of my grumbling abdomen.

Enter Cooking Mama for the Nintendo DS. For the first time I'm going to be spending my hard earned loot on some tasty food. Well, not exactly real food, but the kind of wonderful dishes I could only create on my DS. Cooking Mama is a cooking simulation game, in which players create dishes on their Nintendo DS using the stylus in many Warioware-style minigames. The games are true to the nature of creating several of the games recipes in real life, of which there are over 75. The creative minigames included within each recipe run the gamut from chopping, slicing, grating, kneading, mashing, peeling, frying, and flipping; to blowing in the DS' microphone to cool food. There are over 200 different minigames that players will have the chance to experience in creating the games many dishes.

The game's difficulty arises as players are forced to multi-task the many different mini-games in order to create dishes similar to cooking in real life. Players may have to watch as one ingredient browns in the frying pan, as they are slicing vegetables, and all the while blowing on their dumplings. In certain instances, the Cooking Mama herself will step in to offer players the chance to veer into a new course while creating a recipe. Making changes will unlock many separate minigames for players to explore. Upon completion of their dishes the Cooking Mama grades the dish from 0 to 100, the better score delivering a medal, and more of the games creative recipes.

The recipes are an interesting portion of Cooking Mama, as the game was originally developed in Japan, and Majesco has said that they aren't changing any of the games recipes, and their localization only includes supporting the English language. While this offers many players the chance to explore unique Asian cuisine, this could remove some of the familiarity that American players might enjoy in creating dishes that they're accustomed to. It shouldn't turn off many interested customers anyways, considering the games $20 price-tag. Cooking Mama is a budget title at release for the Nintendo DS, and that's sure to disappoint importers who have been paying over $40 since Taito released the game in Japan.

Cooking Mama doesn't have any real multiplayer support apart from sharing recipes with a friend over a local wireless connection. The game also offers players the chance to give their friends a demo using a single cart when playing locally. Getting used to the Cooking Mama system could be of real interest to gamers who are looking to get cooking on a home console sometime as well. The early videos for the Nintendo Wii showed an interesting cooking game using the Wiimote, which is most likely the recently announced Cooking Mama: Cooking with International Friends.

There's little to dissuade players from picking up Cooking Mama when it launches early this September. It allows the many of us who can't seem to put down games long enough to eat a decent meal, the opportunity to create that meal, and fantasize about its glorious tastiness. Well, maybe that's not such a good idea...I'm kind of hungry. Regardless, I'm committed to pleasing the Cooking Mama and delivering up some awesome squid biscuits. Yes, there are squid biscuits in the game.