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.