There a something sad about a long lasting franchise that comes to an end. The Cooking Mama series has been part of the handheld market for a very long time, and it was recently announced that Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop will be the last on the 3DS. While Cooking Mama was never on my list of ‘must play’ games, I wanted to at least give it a try. I know there is a core audience for this game that enjoy it, so I wanted to see for myself what Cooking Mama was all about. I admit that I was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the title is.
The Cooking Mama series is not exactly a mystery. The name of the game is to cook. In Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop, players focus their time on cooking confectionery treats like chocolate, cakes, and a wide variety of other recipes from all over the world. If you enjoy a specific treat, then it is most likely included in Sweet Shop. More than 60 recipes are available for Sweet Shop, and you will cook every single one of them. As you prepare dishes, customers will buy them and you will use the money to decorate your kitchen, sweet shop, or buy outfits (of course, my 6 year old daughter LOVED this part).
Cooking Mama utilizes the mini game mechanic. Each recipe has approximately 4-5 steps for you to prepare as you make the recipe. The mini games are not very hard for a seasoned gamer. You will use the stylus to slice, mix, and bake your sweet treats. A typical recipe will have you add ingredients by taping them in the correct order. They will ask you to use the stylus in a circular motion to mix a specific way. You will move the DS to balance your tray of food as it goes into the oven. And, of course, you get the chance to decorate it as you see fit and present it in your sweet shop!
One of the best things about Cooking Mama is the responsiveness of the controls. I was impressed with how well it kept up with my cooking. And there were times when I was rewarded with taking my time and cooking properly. During my first minigame, I had to mix ingredients. I decided to swirl the stylus as fast as possible. Of course, when that happened, ingredients went everywhere and covered the screen. I lost points and only got a silver medal. I was impressed by how much thought the developers put into the cooking mechanic. For young gamers, it is a good way to introduce cooking and everything that goes into creating a dish from a multi step recipe.
There isn’t much of a story in Cooking Mama. The main game requires you to make treats for your shop. As you bake recipes, new customers will come in and request a specific dish. This will unlock new recipes for you to create. It’s really simple, but it keeps you moving through the minigames. Overall, you have 160 minigames to play. You get gold, silver, or bronze medals for successfully completing recipes.
For certain gamers, that is a lot of mini games to ask you to complete. It can get extremely repetitive. There are only so many unique ways to mix ingredients and chop up ingredients. You have to keep in mind that I may not have been the focus audience for Cooking Mama. With that in mind, I had my 6 year old try it. It’s pretty awesome to watch how serious a young gamer is when they play games. She easily played all the minigames. There were some frustrations in the beginning, but that’s because she didn’t read some of the instructions before taking on the recipe.
While the Sweet Shop is the main component of the game, there are other modes for you to try. You can play multiplayer with 2-4 players and challenge each other to be the best at creating a dish. You can go all over the globe and participate in mini game challenges that will time you on finishing tasks. They are fun, but not exactly a rewarding experience.
Graphically, Sweet Shop is right on par with what you can expect from the series. It is extremely colorful and cute. Cooking Mama herself is always smiling if you are cooking right. I may have made her angry a few times, but that’s a topic for another day. The dishes look good and the accessories do as well. Let’s call it what it is – Sweet Shop is very cute and perfect for small gamers.
And that’s the bottom line – Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop is a great fit for young gamers who need simple and responsive controls. Young gamers will enjoy unlocking accessories and cooking dishes. I am really happy that I got to try the game, but it isn’t exactly a game that I would buy on a regular basis. The repetitive gameplay will cause some gamers to avoid it. However, if you are looking for an enjoyable game for young gamers, then you can’t really go wrong with giving them Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop. If Sweet Shop is really the last in the franchise, then Cooking Mama is retiring on a very sweet note.
Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop is available for the Nintendo 3DS digitally and in retail stores for $29.99.
Note: GameOctane Editor Ryan Welch received a physical copy for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Great for young gamers
Lots of accessories to unlock
May bore older gamers