April 12, 2007

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Cooking Mama: Cook Off (Wii)
OfficeCreate, 2007
By Glenn Given production@hippopress.com

Nintendo shakes my faith by adding $20 to the price of what would otherwise be a cute potpourii of minigames in its Wii-make of the DS delight Cooking Mama.

Cooking Mama, the kitchen-themed micro game collection was a darling title for the DS. It married an addictive aesthetic to some innovative stylus uses and provided just the right amount of fun and challenge that a $30 handheld title should; quick to pickup and play but devious in its later stages. Unfortunately, as with Trauma Center, the rush to Wii-make this for the new console amounted to slapping some new recipes (i.e. stages) on and inserting a bit of multiplayer split screen.

As in the original players wield the Wii-mote in various orientations determined by the task at hand (tilting from side to side to butter a hot pan, or slashing across the screen to cut veggies, etc.) and are graded on the accuracy of their motions and the speed with which they can prepare each stage of the recipe. Scores are tallied at when you complete a dish and receive your kudos or admonishments from Mama herself who chirps in with an almost Engrish phrase book. The problem here ó and Nintendo Iím making note of these instances ó is that the wii-mote can be devilishly unresponsive. Players will find that most tasks are either to delicately tuned for the adequate motion sensing of the Wii or they require ridiculously exaggerated motions to complete. Switching from a brute force flailing action like meat grinding to finesse based challenge can throw your assessment of the Wiiís responsiveness far out of whack and ruin your meticulously crafted dish.

It doesnít help that youíll see most of the mini-games that are offered in the first few levels and from then on itís a drag. Cook Off alleviates this a touch by adding a decent split-screen multiplayer (which can also be played against the AI) so that you and your friend can do some head to head cooking. But, frankly, Iíd rather make real food with friends. My kitchen is quite responsive to my motions and I rarely find my chefís knife flinging itself wildly across my cutting board. Unlike Trauma Center which managed to preserve the interactions of itís DS predecessor, Cooking Mama loses a lot in the translation. Cook Off makes no convincing argument to play it over the far superior Warioware Smooth Moves and will only lead to remote flinging, albeit cute, frustration. C-

ó Glenn Given