80Let’s be clear here: Cooking Mama is a great franchise.  Most titles for the Nintendo DS are hit-or-miss, and it’s rare to have something to consistently look forward to.  That said, it’s not a title I would normally pre-order or spring to buy, because I fear that the series has very little room to grow.  But Cooking Mama 3 has put my fears to rest by keeping the core elements intact, making them more challenging for seasoned players, and adding a whole new set of gameplay features to keep the series fresh.

Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Cooking Mama Ltd.
Oct. 20, 2009

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a hard axiom for most developers to follow, but Majesco has done admirably little to change core gameplay.  You’re still playing catchy mini-games to cook food with Engrish-speaking Mama, and these games still have enough charm to appeal to casual gamer and veterans alike.  They’ve only been improved by streamlining the process to keep frustration at bay; there are some points where rather than starting over, you’ll be given the option to save yourself and soldier onward.  A cookbook full of new recipes will make you feel like you’re actually able to make creme brulee, but don’t let it go to your head–you can’t.  I checked.

The biggest new feature is Shopping.  You must battle your way through frustrated salarymen, women with screaming babies, overeager salespeople to capture your desired ingredients.  If you’re too slow, you’ll have to play a mini-game to escape.  It’s a very cute feature, though it isn’t well-integrated with the game as a whole, and sometimes employees are particularly difficult to escape, and repeating mini-games is not my favorite thing to do once I’ve mastered them.

Blast Factor: This game is so charming–and has such a high replay value–that I can’t help but give it an excellent review.  Mama always manages to defrost the icy leftovers of my heart, and this may in fact be my favorite installation in the series.  If you’ve ever panned this title, now is the time to reconsider.

Cooking Mama 3: Shop and Chop is available on the Nintendo DS for $29.99. A copy of this game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes.

About The Author

Lauren is a Boston-based multimedia designer. Critics and grandparents alike describe her as "very beautiful, if only [she] would brush [her] hair once in a while." Her large animated gif library gives her authority to speak on almost every subject, so she does.

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