The Nintendo Wii has proven itself as a versatile virtual simulator of real life activities presented by bringing life to games with its innovative Wiimote interface.
Starting with Wii Sports, the platform has exploded in popularity bringing to life sports play that even your parents can instantly enjoy even without reading the manual.
Cooking Mama does the same by bringing to life the cooking experience from start to finish that’s fun even if you’re not already a master chef.
I’m certainly no master chef in real life, but I play one on TV.
This game teaches and simulates the work involved in cooking with its rewarding outcome of well cooked meals once you’ve followed all of the steps in a recipe.
Cooking doesn’t seem hard while playing the game. It’s all about timing and following the correct sequences in order. Working with a myriad of recipes of different origins, the game takes you into Mama’s kitchen where you start learning how to prepare domestic and foreign dishes in the comfort of sitting in front of the television.
Prior cooking experience is not required and not knowing how to cook can actually be a treat by observing how a particular meal is made piece by piece. You get to do it yourself where it is clean fun that doesn’t require any clean up. Upon each section, Mama gives you a little briefing describing how the preparation of the dish works at every step of the way. Once you start, the sections that are broken down are executed by your cooking.
The cooking sequences range in difficulty from simple preparation of basic ingredients to the more complex combination of all of the ingredients to stir fry. Not surprisingly, many dishes share the same cooking process in common with dishes in the beginning but later fork off to develop into the different dish of differing origin. Peeling vegetables and slicing ingredients are examples of common techniques learned that are repeated throughout cooking different dishes. Barbequing kebabs or frying tofu are examples of what sets apart each dish with some of the key ingredients requiring a different style of attention. All dishes universally require key timing of execution in order to prevent undercooking or overcooking.
The realistic visual effects of some of the ingredients make the game simulate a sense of authenticity than what I had originally expected from a video game. My confidence of cooking has skyrocketed with some of the ambiguity stripped away by doing the Wiimote approximation of how it’s done in real life. From cutting beef, to separating squid, some of the ingredients actually look slimy or oily. The texture looks real throughout the entire cooking process.
The learning curve for learning the Wiimote for Cooking Mama is relatively intuitive compared to most other Wii games. They really took advantage of using the Wii’s unique Wiimote interface to combine moves that can’t be easily replicated using other interfaces. Using the Wiimote, some of the preparation sections are indeed difficult to figure out on the first try. However, once you walk through that sequence once or twice, you’ll be able to pick up on the process relatively quickly and soon master how to do that particular sequence. Most of the other sequences are self intuitive by correlating how it work work in real life. Often times, you realize how a dish unfolds in front of you in the matter of a couple of minutes.
What I like about this game is its complexity of dishes that are broken down to simple execution phases. With the simplicity of the game play integrated, the real notable metric of performance is the timing and the speed in working within Mama’s kitchen. Speed and timing also brings competitive cooking battles between the computer or another play on the second Wiimote. In order to compete with the best times, the game encourages a practice mode where you can run through the exercise of preparing individual dishes to hone in on particular skills.
The game is also really cute. Nobody gets hurt and the worst thing that can happen in the game is making the kitchen messy. It is an encouraging game where Mama will give her kinds words whether you’re doing well, or even when you’re not doing so well where Mama tells you to “Try harder. I’ll do it for you…” The end result always results in a full cooked meal that looks good enough to eat.