one of the other games i played while out of town on vacation was cooking mama. this was one of my first forays into the world of mini-games, and the experience was quite underwhelming. i’m one of those people who barely knows how to cook, so i was somewhat interested in learning more, which the game does succeed in to some extent. in terms of gameplay though, i agree with the majority of the reviews at metacritic.com, that there just isn’t nearly enough variety. chopping is always exactly the same no matter what ingredient you’re working with, as is stewing, kneading, slicing, and so on. many dishes require rice or noodles with the same process of making them, which quickly grows boring. also, the additional mode of combining dishes (e.g. udon + fried shrimp) adds absolutely nothing in terms of gameplay. and although there’s a long list of recipes, there’s not really any incentive to unlock them b/c the mini-games are all the same and the game doesn’t bother to track your progress (in terms of the percentage completed). all in all this is one game where the trailer covers the whole game. but if you’re really eager to track down all 76 recipes, this FAQ at ign.com lists them all.
despite the disappointment, this could be a decent game for kids and less demanding players. cooking mama 2 for DS and wii was announced a couple of weeks ago and has the potential to include a lot of improvements, but i wouldn’t count on it. here’s hoping.