Cooking Mama

505 serving Cooking Mama

Due out here in December.

505 Games has announced that DS chef-'em-up Cooking Mama will be released in Europe on 8th December, having already come out in the US and Japan.

Cooking Mama

Cooking Mama

Nutritionally sound.

Never let it be said that Eurogamer's review policies are remotely sexist - I undertook to purchase Cooking Mama entirely of my own volition, not because it was thrust upon me under the assumption that a female critic would be more appropriate (as has happened to me in the past with Barbie sodding Horse Adventures). Having now exhausted the DS' very first cooking game, though, it's inescapably apparent that this really is going to appeal to girls more than boys - not because of all the cooking, you understand, but because it's extremely cute and lovably simple. My mum adores this. So does my niece, whose adorable little sticky fingerprints are now all over my lovely new Noble Pink DS Lite. Unfortunately I'm not anything like as enamoured with it, and I'm guessing that if you're a regular reader of this website your sentiments are more likely to tally with mine than with those of a seven-year-old girl whose primary concerns in life seem to be ponies and how many of those candy bracelet things she can fit on her arms at once. Bless.

At first, though, I was just as taken with the novelty of chopping and slicing and tendon-removing as my miniature relative. Cooking Mama picked up one or two awards at E3, which is entirely understandable as it makes an excellent first impression. Brightly presented and perfectly intuitive, it presents you with seventy-odd unique dishes to make under the benevolent guidance of Mama, who wears a pink hat and is terribly nice (unless you mess up a dish, at which point she suddenly transforms into a flame-eyed she-demon). You can also combine recipes to make your own odd combinations like meat-pie-fried-rice or spaghetti-pizza, which offers a ridiculous number of questionable gastronomic possibilities. Initially, it seems like Cooking Mama is both extremely varied and unexpectedly substantive, which comes as a lovely surprise for a $20 game.

And through your first few culinary ventures, that good impression is maintained as the game's cheery, bright kitchen visuals and satisfying chop-sizzle-thwack noises charm you into submission and Mama rewards your attempts at boiled rice and grilled gyoza with shiny medals. The DS was made for this kind of simple and innovative little game; everything from basic grating and slicing to folding sushi, kneading bread and pulling the legs off crabs is done with the stylus alone, and each recipe is presented as a sequence of easy-to-understand mini-games. The fact that both my mother and my niece picked this up with no trouble at all is testament to how very accessible they are - only very rarely does any step in a recipe actually present a challenge. This doesn't matter at first, as there's a consistent stream of new cooking steps, but after your first ten or fifteen recipes you find yourself doing the same old chopping and grating and boiling and frying over and over again with marginally different ingredients and only the occasional surprise new mini-game (mackerel-fanning, anyone?) to liven up proceedings.

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