TGS '07: Cooking Mama 2 Hands-On

The sequel to Taito's culinary sim is squaring up for a November release in Japan. We rustled up a few dishes at its TGS booth.

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Cooking Mama was a surprise hit when it landed on the DS last year. Who would have thought that console-based cooking could be fun? One year and a Wii version later, it seems that Taito isn't too short on recipes to dish out a sequel. We donned our virtual aprons and headed back into the kitchen for a preview at this year's Tokyo Game Show.

The first recipe that we tried was ice cream simply because we've been eating so much of the stuff out here in Japan. Less of a recipe and more of a reflex test, you need to make three triple-scoop cones by choosing the ice cream then catching it in the cone. After you've tapped all three flavors, they begin to fall down the screen and you need to move the cone with the stylus to catch them in their path. The final touch is a few sprinkles, but only if you catch all three scoops successfully.

After starting with ice cream, there's little else you can do but go for some pizza, which put us squarely back in more familiar Cooking Mama territory. Here, we had to prepare the dough first by adding the ingredients together, the order of which was slowly revealed one ingredient at a time. As any good pizza chef knows, you next need to whisk the ingredients (which you can do with a traditional whisk or some chopsticklike device), mix it together, and then pat out the doughy mixture. As always, this is all done through the touch screen, with prods, mixes, and pats all indicated by arrows on the screen.

The best part of making the pizza was definitely spinning the dough outward on your finger to make the circular shape. If you spin too fast, as we did, the pizza base will go flying onto the floor. Next, you get to spread out the tomato paste then add your favorite ingredients from a choice of salami, prawns, and what looked like egg. We liked the fact that Cooking Mama limited us to a set number of toppings, but we could still move them around on the pizza to improve the presentation. From here, you have to program the oven heat and time then stick your pizza in the oven. Hopefully, you have a satisfied mama at the end of it.

Even though there were 40 games on offer in what looked to be fairly finished code, we couldn't resist making another sweet recipe in our final game. Being able to make donuts at home has no doubt been a dream for many people, and it was nearly as enjoyable in Cooking Mama 2. Again, you have to add the ingredients, but you roll the dough out, fold it into a circle, and then poke it together to join it up. After boiling and baking, you have a set of three lovely donuts. You can even save the results to the cartridge for future delectation.

There's no doubt that Cooking Mama 2 is more of the same, but that's not a bad thing for a game that was as quirky and original as the first game. We like the ability to save your creations to the cartridge, as well as the fact that there seem to be more Western-influenced recipes this time around. Budding chefs can get their virtual kitchen on import when the game ships in Japan on November 15, while European gamers will have to wait until the first quarter of 2008. Sadly, there's no word about the US release at this time, but we'd be shocked and amazed if it isn't coming.

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