Cooking Mama 4 is the first game from 505 Games on the 3DS system. It brings together a lot of the skills from past Cooking Mama games, but this time in 3D. This works pretty well as this is a fun game, even if the 3D aspect is not really taken advantage of fully, however. There are over 200 mini-games to play, add to that a 4 player wireless mode and the ability to decorate your utensils and even the clothes Mama wears and you get a pretty decent game.
The main menu gives you all the options you need to play. The first of these is the Lets Cook mode, this is the main campaign mode if you like, as all the recipes are here including Salisbury Steak, Grilled Prawns, Marron Glace and other delectables. You cook by using the stylus to follow the on screen prompts, so, for example, you need to spin the meat grinder, push the skewers into sausages, cut vegetables or roll sushi. This is a fun way to play the game and it’s easy to do as these actions are done by sliding the stylus in the direction shown, or pressing the buttons and blowing into the mic. The 3DS hardware has been used to add a new dimension to gameplay, so you can tilt the 3DS to move the butter around the pan, or to catch burgers being flipped. All the movements you need to do are shown on screen and there is a timer to contend with.
The top screen shows Mama in 3D, she smiles and is happy when you’re doing well but sad and crying when you’re doing badly. She’s as animated as ever and it’s fun to see her so. Sometimes when you beat the eggs too much, or do things wrong, like send the meat fly’s from the bottom screen up to the top screen, you realise how that 505 have included some nice touches to make the two screens play well together and create a more involving experience.
Next up, is the Let’s Combine mode that allows cooks to combine two recipes to create a new one. Now performing tasks well allows you to gain new recipes and rewards. These rewards are in the form of new mini-games, outfits for Mama and new things for the kitchen.
There are also mini-games such as vacuuming and other fun tasks that are unlocked when recipes are made well. These mini-games increase the life of the game a lot. plus they are very cool to do. Another option that increases the lifespan is the Lets Play mode where you can play with up to 4 players; even with players that don’t have Cooking Mama 4 which is a great touch. To use the rewards you have unlocked simply go to Mama’s Gallery where you can dress her in different outfits, change the colour of your pots and pan, change the look of the screen and the colours of your tools. This is a good addition which encourages gamers to get good scores in the recipes and to play recipes over and over again.
The graphics are very bright, cartoony and manga style. Mama’s huge expressive eyes are nice to see again. I have to the say, the 3D aspect is not done very well. Besides from a few 3D moments, this game can be played in 2D just as well. Yes there is 3D in the top screen and depth is seen and there are objects in different planes, but I can’t help but think this was tagged on to push this title for the 3DS. Yes, this game looks good but it could have been much more, I think. The music is typically happy and upbeat, with pleasing tones that are nice to hear, but after a while the happy xylophone music does want to make you turn the volume down.
Overall, 505 Games have given us the first Cooking Mama for the 3DS and whilst there is not much new here, it’s still a solid game. It’s as fun as ever and really addictive, actually. I can’t help but wonder if old fans will really buy this as it’s more like an update than a new game. Having said that, new fans to the franchise should buy this as it has all the ingredients that make Cooking Mama a hugely popular series. Mama’s back, and this time she’s taking cooking to the third dimension!
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