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 Food Network: Cook Or Be Cooked
Hey have you heard about the the new cooking game for the Wii called "Food Network Cook or Be Cooked"?
Sounds like some cannibal’s version of "Cooking Mama" doesn't it?

Speaking of which, 3 years after the debut of "Cooking Mama", the idea of a cooking game isn't exactly fresh, but Namco Bandai developed in partnership with Food Network, designed a game to teach players real practical cooking skills using their Wii Remote and Nunchuk to make 12 meals that are based on actual recipes from the book "How to Boil Water."

So is it a bit too raw, completely overdone, or a culinary masterpiece?
First off, I've been watching Food Network for awhile, back when it was still called Food TV. I find myself tuning into more than I care to admit.
SideNote: To this day, I still remember the episode of "Throwdown with Bobby Flay," where Bobby went toe-to-toe with a local Philly Cheesesteak shop owner. Classic!

It’s a pretty straightforward premise so let’s skip all the usual hubbub that you read leading up to the main course and get right down to the nitty-gritty. The game has an actual story line that does a fair job of explaining why you're creating these meals in the first place.

Cooking Utensils
Two big-wigs with the Food Network are looking for the best home cook in the nation.
As far as the gameplay goes, it's what you'd expect. You'll be swirling oil around a pan, chopping up vegetables, flipping pancakes, stirring stuff and more using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.
The Nunchuk is used for less perfect maneuvering motions, such as when you have to turn an onion so you can cut it in a different way.
To help the gamer know what to do, every movement is shown with an animated on-screen remote at the bottom right corner of the screen.
No button combinations need to be remembered thanks to this little detail, which makes the game even easier.
Each step of the recipes is broken up into different mini-games. For instance, to assemble the burgers, you shake the Nunchuk or Wiimote at the right time while the lettuce, tomatoes and buns quickly fall down both sides of the screen. It’s like playing a rhythm game but with food items. Oh yeah, you get a big bonuses for multitasking.

A Flash In The Pan
Since each of the steps in a given recipe isn't aren't shortened in any way, they can take a long time. A really long time.
The Nunchuk is really used to do two things: confirm menu choices and speed up time.The time factor also makes the speed button a good addition since the game tends to cook everything in real time.

Luckily, you can speed up time by holding down the Z button. If it weren't for that button, cooking dishes like lasagna for 30 min. would be unbearable!
But it feels like you spend most of the game fast-forwarding through all the boiling and baking that takes place. It’s hard to imagine anyone will want to watch water(even digital water) boil for exactly three minutes. You'd think speeding up the clock would help, but fast-forwarding through a minute still feels like, well, a minute.

Calling Bobby Flay!
Susie Fogelson and Mory Thomas, two Food Network corporate executives who barely qualify as celebrity chefs critique your meals at the end. While I'm sure they are fine people (one is an experienced chef with a few recipe books out, and the other is, um, VP of Marketing). As you go about preparing each dish, they will offer helpful tidbits and feedback on your technique. This is infinitely preferable to some obnoxious ringing bell, or annoying text popping up every five seconds.

This brings up a nice new addition for a cooking game, which is time management. The true kitchen hero will be able to coordinate dishes strategically, ensuring each element is ready to serve at the same time (without serving anything cold, of course).The last thing you want to happen is to have any of your dishes be cold, so you need to have all of them finish at approximately the same time.

Unfortunately, there are only 12 recipes, a far cry from the 30+ promised on the case, that number comes from the different parts of the recipes. In other words, every component of a meal towards this total; for the first recipe, which is a bacon and eggs breakfast, the bacon and eggs are considered 2 recipes into the count of 30 recipes.

Looks Good Enough to Eat
If COBC does one thing right, it's in the graphics. The food is realistic and looks quite delicious. If you're craving some real grub, you can take your gaming skills into a real kitchen because all 12 of the recipes are featured in the instruction manual.

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen!
COBC offers multiplayer options where up to 4 players can cook co-op side by side called "hot potato" or face each other in a cook-off with up to two players. These modes just involve making the same recipes as the single-player mode.
It's called hot potato because players must share 1 Wiimote and Nunchuck and pass it back and forth. This method for switching between players was confusing. My son and I were never quite sure who was actually supposed to be manning the Wii Remote at what time.

Having just 12 levels really makes this a 3 to 4 hour game at most, the fun just doesn't last. If it had more recipes, "Food Network Cook or Be Cooked" would have been one truly hot potato.


Rated “E” for Everyone

Get Food Network: Cook Or be Cooked Here

Graphics A
Sound B
Pickup & Play B-
Overall Fun B

Posted by oxyjen on Apr 29, 2010
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