Hot on the heels of our hands-on time with Cooking Mama 2 at the Tokyo Game Show, Majesco stopped by with an English version of the game to show us some of the specific changes that have been made this time around. The game's subtitle, Dinner With Friends, is an apt one: The biggest new mode in this sequel is called Let's Cook, which has you going through the standard cooking motions to create a meal for your friends and family. Then, once your meal is complete, your guests will lay down the law on your food, Iron Chef-style, by awarding a score. But if you commit an egregious error in your cooking process, they'll stop you in your tracks and not even allow you to finish the meal, requiring you to start over.
When you're tired of slaving over a hot stove for those ungrateful friends of yours, you can focus on unlocking some new customization features. You can now change the colors of the kitchen and even add things like wood paneling to the decor, as well as dress up Mama herself with a number of new outfits and accessories. (She looks good in a monocle, trust us.) The game will also let you take pictures of meals you're most proud of, and you can unlock "seals"--which appear as compliments from Mama in little word balloons--that you can slap onto the photo to make yourself feel extra special.
The original Cooking Mama largely focused on Japanese food, but Cooking Mama 2 will be branching out more fully into other culinary disciplines than its predecessor. In addition to all the requisite sushi and such, you'll see a lot more of the sorts of unhealthy delights we Westerners crave: hot dogs, pizza, and so on. We even saw some slightly classier fare like panna cotta during our demo as well.
The core gameplay in Cooking Mama 2 hasn't really changed. You're still playing a quasi-rhythm game where you have to perform the appropriate cooking motions in accord with a moving guide at the bottom of the screen. Luckily, the developer has done some work to smooth out some of the more difficult mechanics from the original game. For instance, the peeling action is said to be much more intuitive and easier to pull off this time around. Of course, there are plenty of new cooking actions in the sequel as well. You'll get to squeeze lemon juice from lemons by twisting them in a circular motion, for instance, operate a mixer, and shake powdered sugar through a sieve, to name a few.
Cooking Mama 2 will feature single-cart download play that will let you send a single mechanic, something like the lemon peeling, to your friend's DS so the two of you can compete to see who's the better chef. We got only one cart to play with, so we can't comment on multicart multiplayer just yet. Overall, the game is looking quite similar in art style and gameplay to the first one, so anyone who enjoyed the original Cooking Mama's unique recipe of motion-based gameplay ought to find plenty to like here.