Iron Chef is a game about cooking, but it sure isn't cooking with gas.

User Rating: 4 | Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine WII
I purchased this game at the request of my father. He's a big cooking fan, and he enjoys gaming from time to time. While I had my reservations as to whether or not a game based on virtual cooking could actually be fun, I was willing to give it a go.

The general premise of the game, while reasonably entertaining, offers none of the creative pleasures you might imagine a game based off of a creativity-based cooking gameshow might contain. The gameplay is essentially a gratuitous misuse of the wii-mote, and you end up spending all of your time waiving the controller in various repetitive motions for short bursts of time. Activities such as chopping or slicing components, stirring, pouring, folding, stretching, and etc are all represented by their own motions. You do these motions until the task is complete or a timer runs out. It's mildly entertaining, but involves very little thought or skill. Ultimately, the successive mini-games might come off a little more successful had the rest of the game been made with a little more love.

Anyone who has actually seen the show knows why doing all of these pointless mini-games is necessary. Iron Chef is a timed cooking competition between a challenging chef and an Iron Chef (a master-chef who represents the show). Upon establishing the match-up between the two chefs, the host unveils one main ingredient with which all of the dishes made during the competition must feature. This aspect of the game is where it really fails. First off, there are only 15 main ingredients that can appear in a competition, and this leaves very little replay value since a match-up lasts only about 15 minutes. Second, you, as the challenging chef, do not actually get any real control over what you make with the main ingredient. You simply have the option to choose 3-7 of the 7-9 predetermined dishes programmed into the game. I understand that it might be a technical nightmare to allow a player to truly design their own dishes, but a little more flexibility and decision making would have made the game a lot more fun. Discovering or learning good flavor profiles and combinations should have been the main focus of the game. This is especially true since the announcer of the show/game continuously tries to educate the viewer/player about the various elements of cooking. Finally, once you've gone through all the wii-mote flailing, the judging phase of your food gives you absolutely no feedback as to what you did wrong. So, if you got poor scores for taste, creativity, or presentation then you have no idea how to improve upon your errors next round.

Even with all of my frustrations about the actual gameplay, my biggest complaint about this game is its offensive lack of polish. There are many cut scenes of the chefs, the judges, the host, and the announcer talking. None of these scenes contain any real animation. The characters only move by way of flipping through 3-5 still images over the course of several seconds worth of screen time. It's truly unfortunate too because the voice acting is actually done really well, and features the actual voices of the TV show personalities.

In the end, the game just feels incomplete and unsatisfying. I wouldn't feel so robbed if it were sitting in the bargain bin for $10, but the $40 price tag it carries might as well come with a stiff kick to your junk. With all that said, I'm sure that some gamers will find this game to be a nice change of pace from more conventional games, but if I want a nice change of pace I'll just pop Tiger Woods Golf in the Wii instead.

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