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GoNintendo "End of day" thoughts - Cooking Mama: Cook Off hands-on...and off

Just like that, another day has come and gone. Something’s got me extra tired, so I am really ready to hop into bed. I will catch you guys in a few hours with some more update goodness. Have a great morning everyone!

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I have been pretty excited for the release of Cooking Mama: Cook Off. I found the DS title more enjoyable than I expected, and was interested to see what could happen on the Wii. That’s why during my evening off I made my way out to the mall to pick up the game up. A friend of mine tagged along for the trip, and came back to the warehouse with me. I sat down at the laptop and took over for Bethany, and put Cook Off over with the rest of my games. My friend had never played a Wii before, even though she had waited in three lines to get one (for a family member). I was going to show off a few games to her, but she kept asking about Cooking Mama. I explained what it was about, which made her want to play even more. I had the opportunity to sit back and watch someone new to the Wii try out a game. Cooking Mama seemed like a great way to test out how responsive the Wiimote is, as well as how well it played into the game. What was supposed to be a few minutes of play turned into a few hours.

Cooking Mama: Cook Off takes the ideas from the DS version and expands upon them. While the DS game was a lot of fun, much of the gameplay didn’t feel as visceral as it could have. The Wiimote control allows for much more realistic movements, which relates to a deeper gameplay experience. Chopping ingredients is now done by making a slicing motion with the Wiimote, rather than drawing lines with the stylus. If you want to grate something you move the Wiimote back and forth. The Wiimote will take on the roles of many different kitchen tools, as well as food items. The Wiimote is an egg one minute, a whisk another, and an oven dial after that. Getting your hands into the motion of gameplay feels a lot better than tapping and drawing with the stylus. I am not knocking the DS game at all…it just so happens that when you compare the two control methods, the Wiimote comes out on top by far.

Back to my friend’s experience with the game. Once she got into the game, she flipped through the cookbook to see what was available. She found a recipe for popcorn…what could be easier than that?! All you really have to do with popcorn is pop the kernels, and salt the finished product. The first play through only took a few minutes, but the final outcome was not something that made Mama proud. My friend had the idea behind the game, but was still adjusting to the Wiimote. She went right back in and tried cooking popcorn again. This time she absolutely nailed it, and got the best rating you can get. From there out she tried recipes that moved up in difficulty. As she played through different meals, she would hit a few snags. Some control schemes that came up confused her at first, but not because they didn’t work. She just had to adjust to how to play the game. Honestly, the most important hurdle for her was realizing that you just use the Wiimote as you would use its real life counterpart. After about a half an hour of play she had the ideas behind the game all figured out.

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After reading a few reviews of the game, I was interested in seeing for myself just how good the Wiimote was at picking up the motions. I was very confident after watching my friend, but I still wanted to try things on my own. We both played through a ton of recipes, and I had absolutely no issues whatsoever. My friend had some issues on a few recipes, but we found out what was causing them. It wasn’t the Wiimote at all, it was figuring out how to use it. Some of the instructions before each game don’t explain things very well. The way some things are written gives off a very “Engrish” feel. When she was playing a few portions of recipes, she would do what the instructions had said, and nothing would happen. I read though the same instructions, which sometimes made no sense to me. Luckily there are pictures included as well. The pictures can really help in instances like this. For example, no matter how fast my friend moved the Wiimote in a circle, she couldn’t get the game to pick up her stirring motion. It looked like she was doing it right to me from afar, but once I got up close I figured out the answer. When stirring, you have to hold the Wiimote with the sensor pointing at the ground. I figured this out by looking at the pictures in the instructions, and I noticed that the Wiimote was upside-down. You think this would be something clearly stated, but it wasn’t. If you are having any control issues, make sure to take a long look at instructions…especially the pictures.

As I said before, we played through a ton of recipes, and we still aren’t done yet. I am not too sure how long the game will keep throwing new stuff at us, but from what I hear it will go pretty far. On top of that, you won’t be getting the best cooking grades possible on your first play through. As of right now, there’s a lot of motivation to go back and perfect your recipes. I haven’t even touched on the multiplayer aspect, which I plan to take on with my friend tomorrow. It would have been kind of mean to go 2 player on her first night with the Wii! So far Cooking Mama: Cook Off is a blast, and I am enjoying it more than the DS version. I am definitely leaning more towards the 1up review score than the IGN one. I’ll bring part two of this preview with me tomorrow morning.

Categories: Consoles
Tags: wii

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