|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Black Lantern Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Destineer||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 25, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
In order to compete with the high-tension, drama-heavy entertainment provided by reality TV, cooking shows have had to adapt over the years. Hardcore culinary enthusiasts may still get their kicks from low-key chefs going through the motions of myriad delicious recipes on-camera, but more casual viewers want some spice thrown into their food TV programming.
Networks have upped their game accordingly, offering food-related shows packed with conflict, explosions, challenges, and excitement. Both the original and the American versions of Iron Chef stand out among the rock stars of cooking shows, but the popular shows debut in the gaming world is less than palatable.
As a TV show, Iron Chef is a very stimulating experience. Master Chefs pit their culinary skills against one of a handful of Iron Chefs in an intense, timed culinary battle that has each side producing a specific number of dishes on the fly. Every match revolves around a mystery ingredient thats unveiled right before the battle begins, and chefs must prepare each of their dishes using the secret ingredient. The often unusual and occasionally disturbing nature of the surprise ingredient, and how the chefs choose to prepare it in their dishes, adds to the fun of the challenge. The battle culminates in each round of dishes being given a taste-test and critique from a panel of guest judges, and a winner is decided. While Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine on the Wii manages to do a reasonably basic job of capturing the general flavor of the show, its missing more than a few key ingredients for success.
The first of many disappointments in the game comes from the lack of character customizability. Theres the option to play as a generic-looking white male or female chef. Thats about it. Aside from being able to input your name, theres no other way to change your appearance. Hand-picking facial features, skin and hair color, and other personal elements of your character would have been a nice option. So many other games are offering this basic feature that players have come to expect it. Unfortunately, the inability to make your character look cool will be the least of your concerns, once you start playing the game.
Some poor design decisions implemented in the presentation causes the game to be unnecessarily lame in the visual department. All of the characters in the game look like high-end clay animated caricatures. Since a handful of the individuals from the actual show appear in the game, including the host Mark Dacascos, commentator Alton Brown, and several of the Iron Chefs, the character style may seem a little off for players who are familiar with the TV program. Even worse, the animations are atrocious. From the intro scene introducing your opponent and the unveiling of the secret ingredient, to the wrap-up with the judges and the announcement of the winner, the animated sequences are horribly choppy. Characters mouths dont move when they speak, and they cycle through a few awkwardly robotic positions; its far from fluid or appealing.
In contrast to the shoddy animations, the cartoonish look of the food preparation portions of the game is quite sharp and actually enjoyable. That is, except for Browns hovering severed head that continues to spit out the same repetitive facts about the ingredients, the utensils, and the foods in question. In the show, Brown is witty and informative, but the game makes him more of a nuisance than anything else. The other voice acting throughout the game is generally so-so, but the background music is tolerable.