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Cooking Mama World: Outdoor Adventures

For: 3DS
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Product: Cooking Mama World: Outdoor Adventures | Developer: Majesco | Publisher: Majesco | Format: 3DS | Genre: Casual | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Cooking Mama World: Outdoor Adventures 3DS, thumbnail 1
Although you may not be aware of it, lemon drizzle cake is widely accepted as the best type of cake. The reason for its dominance in this competitive field is the way it achieves complexity despite its apparent simplicity.

The baking process is straightforward, but the product is a cake that's rich and zesty, yet soft and moist - light on the palate and satisfying with a mug of tea.

Similarly, the individual components of the original Cooking Mama were simple, but when layered together they formed a whole larger than the sum of their parts.

Cooking Mama World: Outdoor Adventures
adds another flavour to its traditional recipe, but in doing so it spoils the mix.

You play as either Ringo or Ichigo, son and daughter of Papa and the titular Mama, out on a camping vacation on an idyllic island. The game sees you exploring neatly segmented chunks of the island while gathering supplies and nosing around the environment in search of adventure.

The land is teeming with wildlife that systematically patrols the area, and should you run into these creatures you'll lose a heart. Lose all of your hearts and you'll fail the section.

Cock blocking (the path)

Some animals block routes along the way, impeding your progress until you've fetched them an object so that they'll move. This sort of bribery hasn't been covered on any nature documentaries I've seen, but it's absolutely rife throughout your quest. And it's dull.

Invariably you have to make your way to one of your parents from a set location, avoiding bunnies, boars, crabs, and more in a crude top-down 2D stealth-lite mechanic.

Animals don't come after you - they stick to their pre-assigned routines - but you still have to duck into small openings off paths to avoid them. This isn't challenging in the slightest, meaning you get so sense of achievement to make up for the inconvenience of having to sporadically hide.

Whenever you do meet with the grown-ups – and at other intervals throughout play – a mini-game will begin. If you meet with Mama it'll be centred on food preparation, and with Papa it'll be creating slingshots or something equally patronising in terms of gender stereotypes.

Mini-game, maxi-filler

These mini-games are well-executed. Although they're not as frantic as WarioWare or as protracted as Mario Party DS, there's still a nice mix on offer.

There are quick-reaction games, such as tapping bees as they emerge from a hive; observation games, like drawing around a cloud that resembles one shown on the top screen; and games that test accuracy, such as tracing spirals to tie knots.

There are "over 100" of these, although some feel very similar to one anothe. The mini-games are the core of what makes Cooking Mama enjoyable.

It's still lovely to look at. The chibi art style is brimming with go-get-'em pep, the lightly used 3D in the mini-games is well-produced, and the music is both peppy and polished.

However, the main dish of Cooking Mama has always been the way it handles individual aspects of creation, and locking these behind an underdeveloped "adventure" represents a misjudged attempt to artificially extend the playing time. 
Cooking Mama World: Outdoor Adventures
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 15 December 2011
The mini-games are just as fun as they've always been and the cute visuals have lost none of their charm, but Adventure mode is perfunctory and crudely made
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