Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Cooking Mama 2 (DS)


Luckily, you can practice each dish and its individual stages as many times as you like with Mama as your guide so when the time comes, it's not as intimidating. The sequences of the mini-games is fairly predictable for each dish, so this is more a task of memorization and anticipating what you need to do next. Cooking Mama 2 is fairly simple in its execution and each dish is created by going through a variety of smaller tasks or mini-games. These are presented as either stand-alone mini-games or as sections of a much larger dish for you to complete. For example, you have to cut up a carrot or peel a potato by moving the stylus around, and complete this task before the timer runs out. There are a pile of ingredients this time around which makes each dish less predictable and more challenging. This process seems simple on paper, but things can get quite manic, especially when you have more complicated dishes that take more steps to complete. After each task is completed, players are ranked and earn a medal depending on how they performed. The better you are at each stage of ingredients, the higher your score, which makes the overall dish taste better.

After you have completed their mini-games and finish each dish component, you have to move onto the next step, such as stirring up a gravy or broth, then go and pour the items into a bowl and mix them together. Once you have completed all the tasks for a certain dish, the completed dish is then graded, and a successful completion can then be used to unlock additional dishes. In addition, you can unlock other extras such as ingredients, and more outfits and designs for Cooking Mama's kitchen. The game's simple flair and easy to understand controls use the stylus controls intuitively, with your actions such as cutting, mixing, pouring, slicing, and oven operation closely mirroring what you'd do in real life. If you find yourself lost, the game also includes helpful text prompts and onscreen guides with tell you which direction you need to push the stylus pen. While most of the tasks are relatively simple, your biggest challenge is completing them quickly which requires some relatively frantic rubbing and pushing on the touchscreen to complete in time. The mini-games can be surprisingly challenging and you'll need to be consistent in order to succeed. However, the simple presentation and brightly colored graphics makes Cooking Mama 2 enjoyable in either short bursts or longer play sessions. This approach makes for an accessible game that players of all abilities should be able to enjoy without much effort.

The main game hasn't changed materially in the new game, but Cooking Mama 2 includes several new modes of play that add to its replay value significantly. The first of these is the new cooking challenge mode, where you have to cook independently without any assistance. Here, you are judged by a panel of your friends and have to please their taste buds for each dish in order to continue. Its not as easy as it seems since you need to do well in virtually all the ingredients in order for your dish to pass the final inspection. This sequel also lets you share the game and play co-operatively with up to three friends in the new Cooking Contest mode, which adds some multiplayer fun to the action, the best part of comes with the fact that you only need a single game card to share. Finally, there's the new Change Design mode where you can use unlocked items to change the appearance of your kitchen from colors to pictures on the wall to Mama's outfit. There are loads of unlockable secrets and items in the game, so you'll definitely find a lot of extra content in the new game as well. Despite all these additions and changes, the core gameplay remains as appealing and addicting as it ever has, making for an exciting and fun game that should appeal to many gamers. It's quirky personality is evident in its very Japanese design, which doesn't appear to have been watered down for Western audiences and its this odd-ball integrity that plays another key role in its appeal. Cooking Mama is very much like the original game, and its expanded selection of mini-games makes for an enjoyable and sometimes challenging title. Even though playing Cooking Mama 2 won't turn you into a master chef, it's still an enjoyable and entertaining diversion with a quirky personality that will probably win over just as many players as the original game.   

- Michael Palisano

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