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Gardening Mama review

Mama always said I'd make a good ditch-digger!


  • Nice change of scenery
  • Lot of customization options
  • Multiplayer actually a blast


  • Same ol' gameplay
  • Horrible looping MIDI music
  • Oedipal overtones

The Cooking Mama series sprung up around the beginning of the DS’s lifespan, when folks were still pretty wowed by the DS’s touch screen. They didn’t mind that the Cooking Mama games consisted of little more than simple minigame challenges strung together under a cooking theme. But now that the DS and Wii markets are oversaturated with novelty minigame compilations, well, Mama’s got to get out of the kitchen and learn herself some new skills. Like farming, apparently.

So we have Gardening Mama: a new take on the franchise that replaces vegetable-chopping with branch-pruning, salt-shaking with soil-spreading, and dropping vinegar into a beaker with… dropping plant food into a beaker.

If you’re looking for a new way to play your DS, this isn’t it. However, to the game’s credit, the new eco-friendly gardening setting feels different enough to remain interesting, and the types of challenges (tap, flick, draw, blow into the mic while looking like a moron, etc) are varied enough that it’s never unbearable. All that said, if you’re the type of gamer who loses interest when you realize you’re doing the same actions you’ve done thousands of times before, or who would like an actual point to all of this, maybe even a story, you can just take that attitude elsewhere. Mama’s got nothing for you.

A map screen allows Mama to teleport to different areas of the garden, but as an alternative to the simple “pick-a-recipe, get cookin’,” it doesn’t add much. As in Cooking Mama 2, you can play multiplayer challenges with friends even with only one cart, and you’ll be surprised by how competitive you’ll become even in seemingly useless contests like who can blow clouds out of the sky faster. As advertised on the back of the box, you can also “decorate your garden and dress up Mama to your liking!”


Read that last bit again. “Dress up Mama to your liking?” Has there ever been a creepier, more Freudian feature in any game, ever? No, we do NOT want to put cute clothes on Mama. Never mind the fact that she’s just a floating anime head with stub-arms; she’s our Mama. Woman cooks our meals, for cryin’ out loud.

Apr 6, 2009

More Info

DescriptionFun multiplayer but same ol' gameplay with a nice change of scenery.
Franchise nameCooking Mama
UK franchise nameCooking Mama
US censor ratingEveryone
Release date31 March 2009 (US), (UK)