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DS  header logo

Cooking Mama 2: Dinner With Friends

For: DS

A tasty snack

Product: Cooking Mama 2 | Developer: Cooking Mama Ltd | Publisher: 505 Games | Format: DS | Genre: Casual, Simulation | Players: 1-4 | Networking: wireless (adhoc), sharing one cartridge | Version: US
 
Cooking Mama 2 DS, thumbnail 1
Every celebrity chef has a theme. Nigella Lawson promotes simple cuisine and Two Fat Ladies extolled the virtues of lard. Cooking Mama however just wants you to tap your way to a delicious meal.

Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends offers a second course of culinary competition, stylus in-hand for any and every cooking technique known to man. A cookbook full of new recipes, added multiplayer mini-games and clever preparation make Cooking Mama 2 perfectly ready for consumption - it's much more lip-smacking than the original version.

Each of the game's 80 recipes break down into a series of simple steps, which play out as mini-games. For example, making an apple pie requires peeling and cutting up apples, lining a pie tin with dough for the crust and then baking it in the oven. Recipes range from easy foods like peanut butter and sweet potatoes to more complex dishes such as escargot, shark fin soup and Chinese steamed buns.

Along with new recipes come inventive preparation mini-games. From shaking up a cocktail and rolling out cookie dough to skewering squid, creative uses of the touchscreen abound.

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One particularly clever mini-game has you separating eggs by sliding one half of a cracked shell toward the second half allowing for just enough distance between the halves to let the egg whites drip out. Move them too closely together and the whites stay with the yolk, whereas too much distance causes the yolk to fall apart. There's fun to be had in quite a few of these mini-games, particularly in the new multiplayer Cooking Contest. You and up to three friends can compete in over a dozen preparation mini-games using a single game cart.

Complex preparations, like the aforementioned egg separating mini-game, are fully explained in Cook with Mama mode. It starts you off with a dozen recipes with detailed instructions for each step and Mama helps by fixing any mistakes. If you spill that rice you're washing, no worries because a new batch magically appears to continue cooking with. Once a dish is complete, Mama grades the result.

Whip up something tasty and you're rewarded with new recipes and special items. For, like a freakish cross between Rachel Ray and Paris Hilton, Mama concerns herself with fashion as well as cooking. Various dresses and accessories to customise Mama's look, kitchen styles, and even cooking utensils become available as you hone your culinary skills. Additionally, completing a preparation mini-game within half the allotted time earns you bonus stars that go toward unlocking more items. There's no shortage of things to unlock, which keeps Cooking Mama 2 fresh.

True to the culinary arts though, not every task placed before you is entertaining. Rearranging a refrigerator in order to cool ramekins of panna cotta hardly conjures fun. More problematically, knife skills are essential because you're required to slice, dice, and chop all kinds of ingredients, but the game doesn't always register movements of the stylus accurately , causing you to botch preparations. After tapping away at a clove of garlic or filleting a fish for the hundredth time, it can become more frustrating than fun.

Mama's kitchen is far from hellish though. Perhaps she could take a few pointers from Gordon Ramsay. Expletive-laced shouting to hurriedly chop vegetables or finish a pie crust would have been just the ingredient to turn dinner preparations into an action-packed cook-off. 'Turn that mess of a meal around otherwise Mama kicks you out of her kitchen by powering down your DS' maybe? Sadly, there's no such motivation.

The Let's Cook mode is the closest thing you get to high pressure cookery, leaving you to cook for Mama and her friends without any help. Left your cookies in the oven too long? Tough luck, they're burnt. Blender overflowing because you've over-processing the mixture? Oh dear, dinner is ruined.

Little room for error is given and in this respect it feels more like real cooking. It's certainly more difficult than Cook With Mama, but also more enjoyable because the game moves faster and preparations flow together without any breaks.

So when dinner finally ends up on the table, what you get is a surprisingly good game. Cooking Mama 2 doesn't succeed through innovation; instead, it serves up a batch of mini-games that are inventive and fun enough for you to overlook the lack of originality. The bitter taste of a few minor flaws linger, but overall it's a treat well worth trying.
 
Cooking Mama 2: Dinner With Friends
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 5 January 2008
More fried chicken than duck a l'orange in terms of sophistication, Cooking Mama 2 still manages to be a delicious distraction
 
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