A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this video game is simply a series of Mini games that have a cooking theme. Kids don't have to know anything about cooking to play. This game is best played in small bursts – like on the way to soccer practice or while waiting for an appointment.
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What's it about?
In COOKING MAMA, you \"cook\" recipes by playing Mini games -- to chop ingredients, for example, use your DS stylus as a knife and tap the screen to chop objects. The fun comes in perfecting them in a timed environment that requires execution at very specific times. Mentoring you through this cooking marathon of 76 recipes is the doe-eyed, anime-looking Cooking Mama. But don't be fooled by her sweet appearance; she turns into a flaming-eyed taskmaster when you fail -- and fail you will, unless you take the time to \"practice\" a recipe before you attempt to \"cook\" it for a score.
Is it any good?
Original, fast-paced Nintendo DS game Cooking Mama makes excellent use of the DS' touch-sensitive screen capabilities in its 200-plus timed, cooking-themed Mini games. While things like chopping are easy, peeling a carrot using the DS stylus is a challenge, and probably more so because the controls aren't responsive enough. Some of the Mini games can get quite demanding, as you are required to add ingredients, stir, and adjust the heat either up or down at just the right time as indicated on a scrolling timeline. And some of the Mini games don't come with enough instructions, which forces you to experiment.
The newness of this gameplay will sustain players through preparing many feasts -- but eventually the novelty wears off. This game is best played in small bursts -- a recipe or two at a time. This game succeeds because it's wacky -- too bad cooking a real dinner isn't this entertaining.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how quirky gameplay in a video game frequently makes the game a hit. Is that because people are looking for originality in video games and are getting tired of games that mimic others? Which of the Mini games was your favorite? Would you want to learn to cook any of the foods you made in the game? Did you miss having a storyline?
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