Mama is back in the kitchen.
If you happen to have played Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends and were left wondering where Mama had got to after the tutorial, it is now obvious that she had nipped back into the kitchen, and a few other rooms in the house, for Cooking Mama 5: Bon Appetit!. Well, that mystery is solved then…
Mama likes to keep busy, having appeared in numerous titles since Mama first appeared back in 2006, and nothing has changed as Mama not only wants the player to cook up a multitude of delicious dishes through the power of the stylus, but also will have the player helping out in the garden, in a cafe, with the household chores and even doing a bit of studying. There is a lot to do in Cooking Mama 5, and it all revolves around the mini games that have made Mama so popular with the casual gaming crowd.
Let’s Cook is the traditional heart of the Mama game, in which players can choose from a large selection of different recipes and then complete mini games which represent the different stages of preparing the dish. Making use of all that the 3DS has to offer, there will be swiping, tapping, scrawling, tilting and even using the microphone as the player struggles to prepare each dish to Mama’s high standards.
Selecting a dish, the player will be presented with all of the different stages of preparation. Each stage will give the player a brief description of what they have to do, although these descriptions are not always clear. Fortunately, a practice session is available for the player to work it out, as messing up any single stage will make it more difficult to achieve a gold level overall and Mama’s eternal praise.
The games themselves are relatively simple, once it is clear what you have to do, and involve the likes of choosing the correct items to add to the bowl, timing the cooking, mixing ingredients with a rhythmic flair, chopping veg by swiping in the right direction or turning a handle to mince some meat without clogging up the mincer. The inputs are not always perfectly picked up by the 3DS, but the games are short enough that any small issues with inputs do not spoil the overall fun of the game.
Completing a recipe will not only get a big smile from Mama, providing it has been done well, but also unlock new recipes and activities, as well as unlocking the completed recipe in the Cooking Dojo. Here in the Dojo, players will be able to test themselves and their cooking skills with stricter time limits for a bit of challenge. For yet more challenge, local multiplayer will allow two players face off against each other with a variety of different kitchen tasks. The multiplayer is not particularly deep, but it is a nice addition to the Mama formula.
Leaving the kitchen, players can also help Mama out with a variety of other mini games. Chores, such as feeding the fish, can be found in the Let’s Help Mama section, whilst Let’s Help in the Shop will see players fulfilling orders in the cafe. Players can get some fresh air in the garden with the Let’s Help Harvest selection of games, and can even improve themselves with a homework-style Let’s Study section. Whilst none of these games really have the appeal of creating masterful dishes, there is plenty of fun to be had and there is a real quick hit feel that is perfect for gaming on the move.
As a final treat, the Gallery mode allows the player to set their creativity free with all manner of clothes and decorations that can be used to customise Mama and her environment. Items for customising are unlocked as the player progresses through the game, providing a nice incentive to keep coming back for more.
There are no huge innovations in Cooking Mama 5 over the previous entries in the series, but the game is bright, colourful and as much fun as ever. The target audience may be the younger end of the gaming market, but the happy theme and casual gameplay will undoubtedly see more than one hardcore gamer pull the game away from a sibling or child, for a few moments of simple fun.
Cooking Mama 5: Bon Appetit! is more of the same for fans of the series. It is simple, uncomplicated fun, and packed with a massive amount of content. The game is not for everyone, but if you are already a fan of the Mama series, this latest entry will not disappoint.