Version tested: DS
There just aren't enough cooking games these days. Yes, all right, there's Cooking Mama, Cake Mania, Cooking Guide, Happy Cooking, Grand Theft Cooking, Gears of Cooking, Call of Duty: World of Cooking, Strictly Come Cooking, Dude Where's My Cooking, Help I Can't Stop Cooking and Rococo McSpuffers' Easter Cake Meltdown. And yet, here come two more. Both are for DS, both feature celebrity chefs and neither are as appalling as you might imagine.
First up is Hell's Kitchen: The Game. It's based on the US version of the TV show, and so features angry straw-haired swearing celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay instead of angry mop-haired swearing celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White. It includes an actual game which is quite good, and a tacked-on recipe book feature which isn't.
Then there's What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver, featuring the straw-haired swearing celebrity chef who only gets angry when the Government refuses to ban chips. It includes a recipe book feature which is quite good, and a tacked-on game which isn't.
We thought it might be fun to let Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay review each other's games. Then we thought about how logistically and financially unfeasible it would be for such a scenario to ever actually occur. So, throwing caution and fear of litigation to the wind, we decided to imagine what Jamie and Gordon MIGHT say about each other's games, in a FICTIONAL context, JUST FOR FUN. Let's begin.
Hell's Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay
- As (not actually) reviewed by Jamie Oliver
Lawksamercy, guv'nors! I tell you what, it would be dead easy to write down the recipe for this videogame and no mistake. Just take a big dollop of Diner Dash and a splash of Cake Mania and give 'em a good stir. If you don't have any bold, colourful visuals in the fridge, don't worry - just use brown instead. Throw in some Hell's Kitchen branding, Gordon Ramsay's poorly digitised voice and an animation that makes him look like a talking pig, and there you have it. Lovely jubbly!
The gameplay's easy to pick up but trickier to master, a bit like those pisspoor Tefal pans I put my name to that are always tipping over because the handles are too heavy. You're in charge of a busy restaurant, which involves seating people at tables, taking their orders, serving their meals and clearing the plates away. You have to do all that without your customers getting impatient and doing a page-three stunner!
You also have to cook all the food. This is dead easy, as I keep trying to tell people from Rotherham who would rather just eat kebabs and Space Raiders for breakfast. You touch the colour-coded empty bowls with the stylus to prepare ingredients, then whack them in the pans to cook. The trick is to get the cooking times and colour orders right so all the dishes are ready to serve at the same time. Pukka, etc.
Both the kitchen and the dining room are on the bottom screen, and you use the left shoulder button to switch between them. Gordon appears on the top screen, all shouty and arms-foldy like on the telly. If you're doing all right he'll say things like, "Finally, I've tasted something I like." If it all goes up the spout he'll start letting the asterisks fly - "What the **** do you think you're ****ing playing at," that sort of thing - and bish bash bosh, it's game over.
Chances are you'll want to give it another go, as this game is well addictive. Just ask my wife Jools; like all women she loves a bit of Diner Dash, and she reckons this is the same sort of thing. I had a go of the Diner Dash PC demo, and a read of the review of the DS version, and she's not wrong.
The difference, though, is that the graphics in Hell's Kitchen are proper shonky. Everything in the dining room is either blue or brown and teeny-tiny. It's hard to tell the difference between the types of customer at first glance, or what kind of a two-and-eight the tables are in. The whole thing looks like it's been drawn by one of them people who usually sits on a pier painting people's names on grains of rice.
At least the kitchen bit looks all right, and there's an Arcade mode where you don't have to worry about the dining room at all. If you want to unlock everything in the recipe book though, you will have to complete the Career mode, which means managing both. There are 35 recipes in total, and most are a bit posher than them ones what is in my game. There's no shopping list, recipe search, step-by-step option or nuffink like that. So basically you've got an interactive recipe book with no interactive features, and less recipes than a proper recipe book. Good one, Gordon.
At least the game bit's quite good fun. The visuals are too small and too brown, but the gameplay's still classic; it's a bit like playing chess with pieces made of rat plops. It may be unoriginal but it's still addictive, and before long you too will be spending hours serving pixel-sized sandwiches to characters the size of ant babies. As my wife Jools says, it certainly passes the time while your husband is out telling poor people what carrots look like.
What's Cooking? With Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver can **** off. I didn't mind him so much back in the nineties, when all he did was ponce about saying "wicked" while cooking tofu burgers for Jamiroquai. Now he can't stop swearing all over the television for no good ****ing reason, which everyone knows is my job, yes? And he's going round telling people to eat more cabbage and bananas, when I'm trying to get them to eat more veal and horses.
Now he's even done a ****ing videogame, just like me. I suppose he thinks he's ****ing clever, putting 100 recipes in his - that's nearly three times the number in Hell's Kitchen. What's more, they're properly interactive. Jamie takes you through each recipe step-by-step, and so you don't get **** all over the DS you can progress through them by saying "next" into the microphone. However, saying "Hurry the **** up, what's your ****ing problem you stupid ****ing ****," doesn't work, so two points off for that.
I have to admit there's an excellent range of recipes to choose from, and most of them aren't ****. They're also pretty easy to follow, though it would have been good to have some instructional videos like in Cooking Guide: Can't Decide What to Eat. Come on Jamie, if Nintendo can manage it I'm sure it wouldn't ****ing kill you, yes? At least it's Jamie's actual voice talking you through the recipes - though it appears to have been digitised by the people who worked on my game, using the same cheese-grater-and-bucket-of-gravel technique. ****s.
There's an extensive selection of filters to help you choose recipes. You can search by ingredients, prep time, meal type and all of that *******s. You can add ingredients to a digital shopping list, if you're the type of person who doesn't feel like a **** walking round Sainsbury's holding a ****ing videogames machine. It's probably fine if you're the type of person who doesn't feel like a **** walking round Sainsbury's followed by a ****ing video camera, saying things like, "Why not try putting some jam on some bread?" in exchange for 90 million pounds a day. Yes? ****.
Anyway, the recipe book bit in What's Cooking? is good, I suppose. The game bit, however, is ****ing ****. There are three modes to choose from, and they all involve ****ing about in your virtual kitchen. Here you'll find ingredients, utensils, serving dishes, saucepans and all the usual old ****, along with a working sink, stove and oven.
In Test Kitchen mode, there are lessons to teach you about cooking virtual food; how to wash, chop, boil, bake, plate up and all that *******s. These are overly-complicated and tedious, and there's no points, reward or penalty system. Let's say you decide to ignore Jamie's instructions for making pancakes completely, and instead whisk the prawns up with some orange juice and serve on a bed of Marmite. Jamie will still announce you've done a "Great job!" instead of calling you a stupid ****ing **** like a proper chef, yes?
The Get Stuck In mode lets you play around with the ingredients and equipment so you can try out your own recipes. You can't taste the finished results though, obviously, so there's no ****ing point.
The most game-like mode is Time Attack, where you have to complete specific challenges such as "Fry an egg in one minute". Sounds easy but there are usually a ridiculous amount of steps to go through, and no hints as to what they all are. So if you don't realise you need the spatula instead of the wooden spoon, yes, you're ****ed. I couldn't even work out how to fry a ****ing egg, to be honest, and I've got 13 Michelin ****ing stars.
Basically What's Cooking? With Jamie ****ing Oliver is great if you're after an interactive cookbook. There's an extensive selection of excellent recipes, the instructions are easy to follow, the step-by-step system works well and the shopping list feature is useful. If you're after an actual ****ing game, though, **** this ****. Jamie should have put his *******s on and ripped off an existing classic, like me. Stupid ****ing ****-faced ***** **** ***** ********* *** ** ***** ****. Yes?