Cooking Mama: Cook Off

Cooking Mama: Cook Off

I can't cook to save my life (which is why I usually swim towards the light rather than sealing myself in pastry). Fortunately, the Wii's charm lies not in its ability to render activities realistically, but rather in its capacity to rend our preconceptions and deliver entertainment regardless of how skilled we might actually be in the activity we're performing. Little surprise then that within minutes of putting a flame to Cooking Mama I was chopping, peeling, frying and mincing with the best of them. Grilled bonito, pierogi, paella, lasagne, popcorn - when it comes to the console that makes surgeons out of tennis players, it's all in a day's wok.

Each of the game's many recipes is broken down into a series of preparations that utilise the Wiimote in different ways. To chop a vegetable, you first remove the ends by dragging the pointer across the area indicated on-screen, perform the same action to cut it a few times lengthways, and then chop it finely by drumming the Wiimote down on a virtual counter until the blade's run the length of the food. Holding the Wiimote horizontally and rotating it like the handle of a tombola allows you to mince beef, while moving it back and forth shakes a pan of frying onions, tilting it butters the inside of a pan, and moving it in response to directional prompts kneads dough to the correct shape and consistency.

Naturally you're not required to demonstrate any actual culinary ability, but you might learn a thing or two about what goes into the food you eat, or gain an appreciation of the timing and phases of cooking. It's in these areas that the game develops its simple premise of prompt-and-response into something more testing, as you have to click an icon to add salt, stir, and adjust the heat in an ongoing sequence. Having wrapped vegetables in meat and skewered them, another task has you fanning the flames beneath them and flipping them when you're prompted, or when smoke starts to gather - and having to act on different skewers at different times. Developer Office Create may or may not know its way around the kitchen, but it does a good job of harnessing certain activities' inherent tension in order to throw you off, asking you to resist the urge to pluck mussels from hot oil at the first sign of their golden innards, for instance.

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Cook with Wii

Mama's secret recipe.

505 Games has pulled out the rolling-pins and announced Cooking Mama for Wii, due for release on 11th May.