You won't find secret recipes for filet mignon or tips on how to make the perfect pizza in "Cooking Mama," available for the Nintendo DS handheld system.
You will find plenty of fun touch-based mini-games that will test your memory, speed and dexterity in order to make you the greatest cooking student "Cooking Mama" has ever had. If you're curious as to what "Cooking Mama" looks like click here for some interesting screens.
The story and premise is pretty simple, however. "Cooking Mama," a wide-eyed cook in kitchen gear, is teaching you how to cook. Starting with basic skills, such as filling a pot with water and simply cooking rice, you will advance to more difficult dishes.
"Cooking Mama" grades you on each of the steps in making each dish and gives you a final score once the meal has been completed. The game is very lenient, as you never really lose if you mess up a particular step in making the dish. While "Cooking Mama" will have anime-inspired flames in her eyes as she scolds you for having to fix your error (so cute!), the dish is never really ruined; you just continue with the next step in the dish.
"Cooking Mama" is more related to its mini-game cousins, such as "Warioware" and "Rub Rabbits," as there will be different types of games to play in order to make your dish. Using your stylus or finger, you'll be peeling the skin off hot potatoes, tilting a pot filled with broth, and blowing on your stew to cool it down.
"Cooking Mama" uses each of the DS's unique inputs creatively. The challenges slowly but surely ramp up in difficulty as you progress with each successful dish created. Even completed dishes will open up variations of that dish with extra steps to increase your cookbook.
Yet, once your cookbook is filled, besides skill-based tests which hone moves you've already learned to masterful levels, there's not much more to do. Although, getting to this point will take a casual gamer quite a while.
Which brings me to why "Cooking Mama" is one of Nintendo DS's star games — it continues with their vision to expand gaming beyond the core gamer.
Sure, the core gamer will enjoy "Cooking Mama," but so will anyone else in that gamer's family. It's mini-game format makes it easy to play a quick game anytime. Despite grading you, and scolding you if your performance is poor, it comes across as non-competitive. And, most importantly, it's a lot of fun to play!
"Cooking Mama" for the Nintendo DS handheld system is rated "E" for Everyone.
By Alejandro K Brown