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Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic

Score: 93%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Cooking Mama Limited
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Mini-Games/ Action/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

I'm not sure how I haven't played any of the Cooking Mama games before now, but Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic is now available and it is my introduction to the series.

At a glance, you can tell that the graphics in Cooking Mama 4 are quite simple, but that is a good thing. Everything has sharply drawn lines and simple colors. This means that you can clearly see the edges of where you're supposed to put things or the lines on where you need to chop. The only character in the game is Mama, but she is quite amusing though. When you do well, she'll clap for you. When you fail, her eyes turn into flames. I found it amusing when I would mess up and Mama ended up with food on her face or even a face full of smoke. I'm not sure why it was funny, but the way they do things is just really humorous.

The sounds can be quite important to hear, so I recommend that you actually listen to the music rather than your own, but you don't have to. A lot of times you can gauge your timing by the sounds as well as the visual and that really does help a lot. Mama will speak to you as well, either words of praise or words of encouragement. Even when her eyes are flames, she doesn't yell at you. She simply tells you "It's ok. Mama will help you." Be prepared for her thick accent though! I find it amusing.


Gameplay:

Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic is basically a collection of mini-games. From the Main Menu, you have: Let's Cook, Let's Combine, Let's Help, Let's Play Together, Mama's Gallery, and Options. Not all of these options will have games available to play yet though, so you will need to start in Let's Cook to unlock more. In Let's Cook, you will start with the option of several recipes to choose from. For each recipe, you will have a different number of steps to prep and cook the food. Some of them only require one step, some have 8 or more. For each step, you will be given arrows that show you what you need to do. Most of them are pretty logical though. There are only so many ways to use a knife, after all. If you complete the task on time, you'll get a gold star. If you don't though, you will get a silver, bronze, or green star, depending on how badly you did. On some steps, you are able to earn bonus stars, if you complete them in half of the allotted time or less. These bonus stars unlock things in Mama's Gallery. For each recipe that you complete, you will unlock a new recipe. There are 60 recipes total and I can promise that it will take you quite a long time to unlock them all. It took me about 8 hours of gameplay just to unlock all the recipes.

Let's Combine lets you combine any of the recipes that you have unlocked with one of a selection of "original" recipes. Combining them will happen through different mini-games that you can earn stars for. Unfortunately, these stars won't unlock anything. Let's Help are mini-games that you will have to first unlock to play. They are short little games that involve a variety of tasks for you to help clean up the house, in a fun way. You will need to unlock the Let's Help games by doing well on your Cooking. Let's Play Together are DS Download play games and they are for playing multiplayer. You will also need to unlock them as well. I can't tell you how many there are total though as I've got to do a bit better on some of my recipes to finish unlocking them. Mama's Gallery lets you change Mama's outfits. There are quite a lot that you will have to unlock through excellent cooking. You can basically change the color of Mama's apron, clothing, pots, pans, and pretty much anything you see.


Difficulty:

There is no difficulty level that you can adjust on Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic, so the games are going to be the same difficulty every time. You'd think that the first few would be the easiest and it would get harder as you go, but I didn't really find that to be the case. Most of the recipes are relatively easy with a step or two that are hard. To get gold for the recipe, you have to get a gold star on every step. This means that you can complete every recipe without much effort, but if you want a gold star on all of them, you're really going to have to work at it!

The Let's Help games don't really increase in difficulty either. They're more meant to be a fun way to spend the time. Let's Play Together can be more difficult though, because you have a real person for an opponent. This means that the difficulty is going to depend on who you find to play with. It also makes things more interesting though.


Game Mechanics:

When I first started the game, I had to run a system update off of the card. It didn't take very long though, so you can pretty much play immediately. The controls are very simple to use. You will not use the buttons for anything and everything is done on the touch screen. You simply tap and follow the on-screen prompts. You will also have to use the mic at times to blow away things, like when you spill flour and have to blow it off of the screen before you continue. Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic can be played in 2D or 3D mode. For the most part, I found that I preferred 2D just because that is my personal preference, but for some things like tapping the egg on the bowl, the 3D was much easier to see. Whichever is your preference though will work just fine.

I have really enjoyed Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic, but honestly I couldn't tell you why. It's not like there is any real purpose to the game other than to spend time playing mini-games, but it is a whole lot of fun. I'm looking forward to the next one in the series. If you like mini-games and such, check out Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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