Cooking Mama 2: Dinner With Friends
- Developer: Office Create
- Publisher: 505 Games
In these days when Jamie Oliver and chums are trying to drill the message into our blubbery heads that we should chuck the pre-packaged additive-rich lasagnes in favour of fresh home-made ingredients, the first Cooking Mama couldn't have come at a better time. Similarly, in the days when the DS was beginning to fully blossom and show what it could really do with its control system, this bubbly cookery sim came at just the right moment.
Translating the culinary art into stylus taps, scribbles and swipes proved a likeable choice. Mama's world is as cheery and colourful as they come, and her easy-to-understand cookery tasks make it accessible to all. While it never took the world by storm, it appealed to those of the more casual persuasion to which it pandered.
Unfortunately, the fishbone in the kedgeree was that it soon became repetitive, a problem that can't help reoccurring in the sequel given its remarkable similarity to the first. As before, each recipe is split into self-contained micro tasks like breaking eggs, kneading dough, etc, and the various methods used in numerous recipes keep cropping up again and again. There's only one way to chop an onion, for instance, so expect to see that in any recipe that requires it.
Likewise, as we said before, there's no real progression of difficulty from the first to the last. Trauma Centre with a spatula, this is not. Your only challenge after exhausting what's on offer is to try to beat recipes without making a mistake or upping your score in the mini-games. Rewards do however come in the form of bonus items when things go right, with which you can decorate your kitchen and dress up Mama.
The Dinner With Friends subtitle, then, isn't all its cracked up to be. In single-player games you can cook recipes you've learned for some of Mama's chums, which boils down [I'm watching you, Lyon - Ed] to repeating the same recipes you played in the main game in the guise of impressing somebody other than Mama. Multiplayer, meanwhile, is all about who can beat the mini-game challenges the fastest.
Given its similarity to the first, it's hardly an essential purchase, but if you haven't experienced it already then this is the one to get, or at least sneak a go on after buying it for a younger member of the family. It's simple, but has noodles of charm [that's it - Ed].