When the Nintendo DS released, the touch-pad feature and the amount of interaction the player had with games were super enjoyable and engaging. A kid like me loved playing Cooking Mama games on the DS. The swiping motions, the tapping against the screen, the visual feedback—it made me feel like some kind of chef at the time. The game was an early introduction to cooking, albeit extremely simplified. While I enjoyed Cooking Mama games in the past, this was years ago, I was part of a totally different target audience. I decided to give Cooking Mama: Cookstar a go as, at this age, my love for cooking has transcended the game and moved into my real kitchen. I wanted to see what I could make of the game at an adult age and find out whether it was equally as enjoyable on the PS5.
First impressions were good. I booted it up and along came that nostalgia to hit me right in the face again. There were a couple options to pick, including playing through a regular menu, a vegetarian menu, and some co-op challenges which were just playing through minigames with a friend via local play, to see who could complete the minigame first. I chose to play through the regular menu, or the “campaign” if you will. There are about fifty or so recipes in the game, providing a couple hours of gameplay. Unfortunately, I quickly discovered some issues with the experience.
Firstly, the experience did not quite hold up like it did on the DS. This could have been partly because, as a child, completing all the cutting and swiping motions made you feel as if you were preparing ingredients; it is less immersive to just press a joystick in the upwards direction. This is also likely because as an adult you are less likely to be immersed in games like these where you need creativity and imagination, which is less easily influenced when you age. I didn’t quite feel the impact I did as a youngster and the satisfaction about getting “100%” on a recipe.
Then, after the first couple of recipes passed, the mechanics began to repeat themselves. To be fair, when cooking in reality, chopping, dicing, and slicing are highly repeated through most recipes. The problem is repetition in video games tends to make the game stale, and there is no exception here. In fact, the game itself doesn’t really offer up anything new that the older iterations haven’t already provided.
To top this all off, I found it odd that there were no PlayStation achievements. This was not a massive deal breaker, but a bit disappointing given that I enjoy trophy hunting. In fact, when I searched the PlayStation Australia store, the game did not even exist there, perhaps likely due to the controversy around the game back during its release—where it was claimed that there was a cryptocurrency miner running in the background. Couple that with licensing issues, and the game’s release was quite a mess, with the franchise leaving a bad taste in people’s mouths.
I can’t recommend the game—not for adults anyway. If you want a simplistic game that can be finished in a couple of hours, this may be for you. The game will likely be enjoyable for children who enjoy helping in the kitchen. If you want to grab a copy in Australia, you may have to look around at brick-and-mortar stores. At its retail price point of around A$50, I don’t think there is enough content here or innovation to justify the cost.