Cooking Mama: Cook Off Review
Cooking Mama: Cook Off box art

System: Wii

Review Rating Legend
Dev: OfficeCreate 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Majesco 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 20, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Majesco's Mama Misses Mark

by Jonathan Marx

Majesco's charming, animated title has finally come to the Wii. All of the appeal of the first game is here but with a new control scheme via the Wii-mote. Unfortunately, all of the series' faults are here as well and, overall, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of improvement. The addition of player vs. player does make for some fun, but the lack of story and some too oft sketchy controls have left this culinary connoisseur wishing for more.

Cooking Mama: Cook Off screenshot

If you are not familiar with the series, Cooking Mama has players perform a series of tasks in order to prepare the perfect meal. For the DS, after successful completion of a recipe you were rewarded with another recipe that was similar to the previous one but a bit more complicated. The more complex recipes incorporated previous cooking techniques and built upon your skills with new ones. In this version, you will try to open up all the recipes from ten different nations. For example, you will be given a simple recipe from Japan, France, or the United States to complete. After finishing the recipe, a more difficult one from that nation will be unlocked. The player will have to peel, chop, clean, sauté, fry, brown, boil, crack, beat, mix, and season their way to Cooking Mama excellence. This is all done through the use of the Wii-mote.

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The game concept is a good one. The implementation of this concept is not great however. I wouldn't call this a poor game; it just won't keep you captivated for very long. The only real goal of this title is to improve upon your previous score. Completing recipes, whether you performed them well or not, will still result in the unlocking of the next recipe. Where's the fun in that? This is not a challenging game at all. What the game really needs is a story mode in order to establish some sense of accomplishment. Majesco should take cues from Atlus, the creators of Trauma Center, and have a story that engages the player. As a former line cook, I can tell you that cooking in a restaurant can be very stressful and very exhilarating. Time limits, multiple tickets, "for here or to go," send backs, custom orders and the like, all play a major role in the daily life of a cook. Finding the balance between speed and quality is the chef's challenge. Majesco could have easily made Mama's kitchen an extended tutorial mode where you learn all of her tricks. Subsequently, if you could progress to a real kitchen where time and quality were of the essence, you would have a truly winning experience. You could be rewarded with bonuses for superior skill and efficiency, maybe even get the head chef position, or earn enough money and notoriety to set out on your own and open up the best restaurant in town. A story mode would have added hours of enjoyment to this title: unfortunately, you are going to pay $50 for a title that will get old the same day you buy it.

Cooking Mama: Cook Off screenshot

The graphics in this game are great and suit the Nintendo faithful well. Mama is as cute as a button, and the ingredients you'll use look delicious. The graphics are animated rather than realistic, but that does not detract from the gaming experience. Everything looks really sharp, and good enough to eat. This is due to the 480p capabilities. You certainly won't find any sluggishness here as the graphics don't draw heavily upon the Wii's hardware.

The sound effects are very good. The sounds of sizzling meats, sweating onions, and the chopping of veggies are all perfectly captured. The music is cute and appropriate for the overall look of the title. The voiceover work is funny and will probably annoy adults. There is one phrase in particular that is repeated over and over again that drove me absolutely batty. If you complete a portion of a recipe very skillfully Mama will say, "Wonderful, better than Mama." This may seem innocuous at first but the accent is that of a Japanese lady, the pronunciation is purposefully poor, and it will wear your nerves thin after a short while.

Cooking Mama: Cook Off screenshot

Screenshots / Images
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