Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic Game Poster Image
Feels more like a game than a cooking sim, with nice menu.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the overall process of cooking and that it is possible to enjoy helping out around the house. The game encourages kids to assist "Mama" not only in the kitchen, but also in completing other household tasks as well. And the "helping is good" message is by far the biggest lesson here. Kids can also glean a bit about the steps that go into making different dishes and will learn about dishes from around the world. This cooking sim turns the process of preparing food into a game about performing activities in the most efficient manner possible.

Positive Messages

The overall message is that cooking is fun and that you should take pride in your own creations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the Mama character certainly doesn't break any new ground in terms of gender stereotypes, she's generally supportive and offers encouragement. Now and then, you'll get a bit of a mixed message from her, when her face turns bright red and she seems very angry, but then calmly says, "Don't worry. Mama will fix it."

Ease of Play

The difficulty factor is set pretty well for young kids to handle, but certain mini-games could use clearer instructions.

Violence & Scariness

If you mess up certain cooking steps, Mama may get hit with flying food and reel around, surrounded by "dizzy stars."


This is the latest installment (and more than just the 4th one) in a long line of Cooking Mama video games.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic is a time management game that simulates cooking. The animated Cooking Mama leads you through the various steps of making a recipe. Kids won't really learn how to make any real food from the game, but they can get a general sense of the kinds of steps that go into preparing a dinner. A new feature also allows kids to help Mama do chores around the house. Two players can challenge each other via wireless play, if both have a 3DS. Please note that Nintendo recommends that children under 6 play the game in 2D, as the 3D effects can damage developing vision. Parents can turn off the ability to see in 3D in the console's parental controls section.

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What's it about?

The series has had a winning recipe, so COOKING MAMA 4: KITCHEN MAGIC doesn't attempt to mess around much with that formula. You choose from recipes like pizza, pancakes, and squid-ink pasta, and the buoyant Cooking Mama leads you through the steps. You'll use your stylus to roll dough, stir broths, slice tomatoes, and the like. A new mode also lets you follow Mama around the house to do chores.

Is it any good?

Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic doesn't do much to improve the series or even build upon its previous successful entries. It's still fun to rapidly chop veggies or delicately pour out pasta water without dumping your spaghetti in the sink, but a lot of the new dishes here seem to contain steps that are pure video game, bearing no resemblance to real cooking. For instance, you might need to catch falling food in a basket or tap fast-moving dishes as they pass by on conveyor belts. It's simply not as novel or interesting as, say, wrapping rice in a banana leaf.

Also, the 3D capabilities of the 3DS are squandered. Every so often, something will fly around on the upper 3D screen, supposedly to distract you -- but you're focused only on the touchscreen while playing, so you barely notice the rare 3D effect. For newcomers, this addition to the series is fine. But veterans may not be impressed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this cooking game differs from real-world cooking. Do you think kids learn from video games?

  • Does the game make kids interested in cooking? Preparing meals together can be a great way for parents and kids to spend time together.

  • The game has a very diverse, multicultural menu. Ask kids if there are any foods from the game that they'd be interested in trying for real.

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love cooking and pretending to be others

Themes & Topics

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