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 Wii Cooking Mama-Cook Off
I love me some slicing
When it debuted on the DS, “Cooking Mama” was an instant success that served up a zany, offbeat cooking experience. I personally loved the game and even raved about it in my review (be sure to check it out under Handheld Reviews)

When the Wii version of “Cooking Mama” was finally released on March 21, I quickly ran over to my friendly neighborhood “Gamestop” to get my hands on my very own, ready to devour it single-handedly!
But after having had my fill, (after only about 1/2 hour) I found that my gaming appetite hadn't been fully satisfied, in fact it kinda left a bitter aftertaste!

If you haven't already noticed, it seems like a lot of super quirky DS games are getting announced for Wii, the belief being that if it worked with a stylus it'll probably work with the Wiimote.
If you've played the DS version, then you've essentially played “Cooking Mama Cook Off.” The meat and potatoes is still the same - cook, cook, cook.You still pick from a list of recipes and cook dishes according to a series of timed mini-games. But instead of tapping and sliding a stylus around, you wave and gesture with the Wiimote, turning it into the ultimate cooking utensil, acting as a vegetable peeler, a wooden spoon, and a knife, amongst other things, you get the idea right? The mini-games include fast cutting, slow cutting, peeling seafood, mixing stews, cracking eggs, and much more. After you complete each step, your Engrish-speaking Mama will give you a grade and move you on to the next recipe.

Crying Over Spilled Milk
Let’s talk about the controls shall we. One word – awkward! No, I take that back they aren't just awkward their also unreliable. Some are overly sensitive, as in the egg-cracking task, swinging the controller a little results in a weak crack, whereas too strong of a swing will break the egg open too quickly resulting in egg yolks all over your kitchen counter and not in the mixing bowl where you actually need it! While others aren't sensitive enough such as the simple task of stirring, I can’t even begin tell you how frustrating it is stirring minestrone soup with just enough speed to prevent it from burning but at the same time making sure not to do it too much or it will spill all over. Ugh!

I had moments where I tried everything-quick actions, slow actions, gentle movements, vigorous movements, banging the controller on my knee, smacking it in my hand (thank goodness for the wrist strap I tell ya!) and it still wouldn't recognize my motions, and that became extremely annoying during a heated culinary competition.

Listen, I know no game is perfect and I can overlook a lot of things but nothing makes me angrier than shoddy controls in a game. Bad graphics (ok) bad sound (ok), bad storyline (ok) but bad controls are enough to make me immediately hate a game.

I also disliked the fact that, no matter how awkward you are as a chef, your dishes always come out looking great. It would have be better if the end results actually reflected your performance, especially in the 2-player split screen mode where you and a friend can compete to see who turned out the most mouth watering looking dish. All the game asks from you is to simply “complete” each recipe in order to unlock more recipes; cooking an item better and/or getting higher medals doesn’t earn you anything extra. In other words, know matter how badly you score in your performance you are still able to move on (“don’t worry, Mama will help for you”) so where is the incentive to do better, I ask you. Where’s the challenge?

Mama’s Back and She Brought Friends
There are 2 new modes in this version called “Friends and Food of the World”, where you challenge CPU friends from foreign countries on their local cuisine. As well as the “Friends and Food” mode, which is essentially a 2-player vs. mode, where the game pits chef-you against chef –friend to see whose cuisine reigns supreme (think Iron Chef split screen style), so get ready to face off making a dish.
You each complete the same steps at the same time. It’s basically the same thing as the normal mode but with a split screen and a score to beat. Kudos to the developers for adding this, I think we would all agree that a game is always more fun when you get to battle others, it actually gives you a sense of “challenge” the very thing that I mentioned was sorely missing in the single player mode!

The DS version of the game placed a heavy emphasis on Japanese style cuisine (often times some gross ones like octopus dumplings) but Cook Off offers many different types of food, a well-rounded diet if you will. All the ethnic food groups are featured here: Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, American, Spanish, and Germany. Kosher meals didn’t make it here though, nebechdik (sorry in Yiddish).
I enjoyed learning what goes into certain foods which under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have been exposed to. It reminded me of why I fell in love with “Cooking Mama” in the first place.

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The graphics are nice and colorful but they tended to be on the cartoony side so they never really looked realistic enough to make me hungry or even make me feel like I actually made food.
The sound effects were very good however. The sounds of sizzling meats, fried onions, and the chopping of veggies are all very realistic. The voiceover work is hysterical! There is one phrase in particular that is repeated over and over again that gave me the giggles every time I heard it. If you complete a portion of a recipe very well Mama will say, "Wonderful, better than Mama!" now I know this may not sound at all funny to you now but you see the accent is that of an old Japanese lady whose accent is so heavy...umm never mind, you’ll understand what I mean when you hear it for yourself.

No More Mama Drama
No matter what you are doing-dicing, slicing, chopping, cracking, peeling, grating, rolling, pulling, sautéing, boiling, frying, seasoning, mixing, pushing or twisting, Mama will still always be there to offer support and she actually talks now! Even though she sounds like she’s talking through a mouthful of marshmallows due to an extremely thick Japanese accent it still adds a cheery, upbeat element to the gameplay.
This time around it seems Mama went to some anger management classes or something, gone are the flaming red eyes when you mess up, unlike the DS version she never visibly loses her cool, no matter what she always maintains a smile on her face. So what if it is a little odd that she disappears sometimes and suddenly comes back wearing these weird sunglasses! Hmm.

Okay in Small Portions
Unfortunately, for all its charm, the game is deeply flawed, and I can't help but wonder if it was best left served as an appetizer on the DS rather than as a main course on the Wii.
While the first game was unique, quirky, and fun, the Wii version feels a bit old and tired. The magic which was once found on the DS version now feels gimmicky and cheap. The touch screen on the DS made you feel like you were actually doing something, sadly that feeling is completely gone on the Wii version especially if you are peeling or stirring. If this were a budget title I might have been a wee bit more forgiving but shinier graphics and a few extra perks (vs. mode) definitely does not justify the 50 bones!

But if you’re starving for something to play on your Wii, this is worth a rental at best.

Get Cooking Mama-Cook Off Here

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

Posted by oxyjen on Mar 30, 2007


2 Comment(s):

On March 30, 2007, said:

On March 30, 2007, said:
cookingmama game


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