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Ratatouille: Food Frenzy: Rats on a Range

Company: THQ

Just in time for the DVD release, THQ is readying Ratatouille: Food Frenzy for the DS. Though not completely apparent at first, the game takes the franchise in a direction that seems obvious by replicating some elements of Cooking Mama and combining them with a dose of mini-games.

Food Frenzy sets itself up as a sequel to the movie. "La Ratatouille," which is probably Paris's only rat-run restaurant, is getting ready for its big opening night, setting all of the cooks (and rats) into a frenzy to get everything ready. Most of the major characters from the movie show up in the game and you'll spend most of your time playing as each for various mini-games.

One of the more striking features about the game are its visuals. As a movie-licensed game, I was expecting to see visuals that attempted to match the movie. Instead, everything is presented in a flat, abstracted storybook style that really works for the game. It offers a nice, clean look that gives you something nice to look at that doesn't distract you while playing.

Although most of the games involve food, or some step in food preparation, Food Frenzy isn't a complete take-off of Cooking Mama. Rather, it takes a few of Cooking Mama's cooking elements and combines them with a number of other mini-games. Gameplay is broken into two modes: Story and Freeplay. The two modes follow the normal pattern of unlocking a game in Story mode and then being able to play it as much as you want in Freeplay.

As you would expect, games are kept simple and feature few rules. The first game has you playing as Remy as you try and knock snails off a wall. The object is to accumulate enough points to move on, though you aren't given a time-limit, so it isn't that hard. Things begin to pick up in later games, such as one where you have to cook fish without burning them by flipping them; once cooked, you then need to flip it high enough to land on a waiter's tray. Again, there's no time limit to the game, though you can't get rid of a burned fish, which limits the number of available skillets. So far, the most confusing game is a puzzle game where you have to stir soup. Although the games are kept simple, sometimes the explanation isn't as clear as it can be. Thankfully, this is the only knock against the game I've come across.

On the Cooking Mama side of Food Frenzy, so far I've only come across a chopping game. The game works the same way as it does in Cooking Mama, though it does seem a little out of place only because the touch elements require a little more precision than the more twitch-based mini-games.

Though I played an early copy, Ratatouille: Food Frenzy already looks like it is heading in the right direction and should provide mini-game fans, and the movie's younger game-playing fans, with a fun portable experience.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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