Developer: Taito Corporation
Release Date: 10/20/2009
Available Exclusively On
Cooking Mama is by far one of the most popular game series out there, as it caters to both young and old, as well as experienced and new gamers. The third installment in the series, Cooking Mama 3: Shop & Chop, brings in a sort of new game mode where Mama goes shopping for supplies. Mama is controlled with the stylus, where you can direct her to supplies needed (each level has different supplies and varied amounts), or away from other customers and employees. When running into, throw you into a random mini-game you have to figure out on your own (no instructions are given) and if you fail the minigame, Mama loses a heart, and at three strikes you are sent home. You get scored, and if you collected all of the supplies you were prompted with at the start of the game mode, you get a Bonus, usually stickers to decorate your Cooking Journal with, or clothes to dress Mama in. The controls are frustrating and unresponsive and everyone moves faster than you do, so avoiding the repetitive mini-games proves more challenging than fun.
The cooking part of Cooking Mama is as it was before, a series of mini-games meant to resemble various stages of cooking a meal (slicing vegetables, breaking eggs, peeling potatoes & carrots, etc) and is quite fun until you hit the 5th page (with 8 recipes per page), find no end in sight, and wonder where it all went horribly out of control. There is a total of 80 recipes in the game, making it seem to go on forever. There is certainly no lack of recipes but that does not mean a lack of gameplay, as there are only so many mini-games that pertain to each recipe, and it can get boring and repetitive cracking eggs, chopping vegetables, straining noodles, and grating cheese over and over again, even if the end picture is different every time.
A redeeming quality of the game is the vast amount of things you can customize from the in-game pots and pan colors to the countertop and background to the clock (you can turn the time limit clock from the inside of an orange to a cookie and other various circular foods) to even Mama herself. If you do well enough in a mini-game inside of recipe (such as breaking all the eggs into the bowl in under halftime) you get a Bonus, and when you get enough Bonuses you get to choose between three circles on a scratch card. When you scratch it off with the stylus you get an item – either stickers for the Cooking Diary, new backgrounds or other screen customizations or clothes for Mama. You can make her wear bunny ears, put bows in her hair, new earrings, new dresses, even Mama’s overall set from Gardening Mama is unlockable.
There are other charming mini-games available to play with, including “Let’s Match!” where you pick two basic ingredients and make a random recipe out of it (such as Meat & Mushrooms makes Meatloaf) but you’re unaware what you are making as it doesn’t tell you until you see the finished product, “Let’s Cook” where you get to cook for Grandma, Grandpa, Papa, and various other people. They will cook a meal for them and they will judge you on how well you’ve done after they’ve eaten it, and “Write in Diary” in which you can save photos of your favorite completed recipes and put unlockable stickers in.
There are no in-game instructions nor is there an in-game tutorial, which proves frustrating and confusing if you rented the game or bought it used with no manual. I was well over halfway through the game and still figuring out how to complete certain parts of recipes. The “Shop” part of Shop & Chop seems a pointless addition to the game, with awful controls and difficult mini-games, but overall it’s a fun game to play when winding down from work or sitting in a boring lobby or otherwise distracted, where normal games would prove to concentration consuming.