Cooking is hard. Understanding how ingredients work with each other while grasping the subtleties of flavors make cooking anything more complicated than a pizza difficult. Cooking is a skilled profession, and while Cooking Mama 3: Shop & Chop cannot teach you how to become a chef, it can let you feel the joy of being a host on the Food Network.
With or without the adorable Mama’s help (she gives helpful tips while doubling as a cooking cheerleader), Shop & Chop offers up dishes familiar to us. However, baking a shortcake just isn’t as exciting as pantomiming the steps that create an exotic dish like trout sushi. The common meals are still fun from a gameplay perspective (stylus movements mimic what a real chef does), but getting a general idea of how tempura is cooked is simply more fascinating.
While dressing up Mama and customizing your kitchen are options that hide away in the menus, the “Shop” in the game’s title refers to an almost Frogger-like mode where you outrun sales-hungry employees and elderly women in a supermarket to buy groceries. It’s all about pattern memorization as you dodge around grabbing items.
It’s not surprising how mundane the game’s “Shop” is and how enjoyable the “Chop” is. Both involve repetitive actions, yet the cooking invites you back by letting you mix together ingredients to create meals while buying groceries reminds us why we had temper tantrums when our parents dragged us along a shopping trip. Grocery shopping is boring, and sorry, minigames don’t make it more fun.
Obsess over all the game’s hidden trinkets if you want, but the main course of Shop & Chop is for people that value good cooking. For us folk that cannot cook but appreciate the craft, this is a treat.
Now we just need to discover a way to eat videogame food.
Nov 5, 2009