I am PekoponTAS. I have tourette's syndrome, and I have been a gamer my whole life. My favourite franchise is Kirby, and my all time favourite game is The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX. I'm a big fan of underrated hidden gems, and I tend to have opinions on games that really conflict with the popular opinion. Anyways, glad to meet you all and stuff.
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The Cooking Mama series gets a lot of hate from "hardcore gamers" or whatever from supposedly "ruining" gaming by fueling the casual crowd, but there are two things wrong with that. First of all is that casual gaming is a good thing. Have you ever been on a bus and seen an older man or woman playing Angry Birds or something similar, and hear them talk about how much they enjoy it? I have, and it makes me feel good. Finally the people who have long hated video games are starting to see what it's all about, and it brings a big smile to my face every time I see it. The other thing people don't quite see about the Cooking Mama series is that it's a highly entertaining game in a lot of ways, many of which come from outside the actual gameplay itself.
Cooking Mama isn't a series I'm loyal to or anything. I've only played a few of them, and it's something I rarely indulge in. However I really enjoy it whenever I play it, and this time more than ever I'm loving it now that I've realized one very important thing about it. I've learned that the Cooking Mama series is absolutely CRAZY.
There are several reasons as to why this game is so funny, and one of them is that the kitchen you and Mama cook in must be swarming with poltergeists throwing the food all over the place. There's one mini-game where kiwis are thrown into this chopper thing, and if you don't slice them quick enough, they go flying out of the chopper due to the evil spirits throwing them away. Let's also not forget about the mini-game where you're trying to spread jam on toast, but you have to get your timing right because the toast keeps JUMPING. No joke, the toast JUMPS. There are three explanations for this craziness. Either this is what the "magic" in the title is referring too, the kitchen is swarming with demonic food throwing spirits, or Mama is attaching strings to all the food and pulling it away just to to fuck around.
Another funny thing is that some of Mama's equipment is a little questionable. I can only think of one example off the top of my head, but her toaster might need to be looked at, because I don't think toast is supposed to fly five feet in the air when it pops out of the toaster. What's even weirder about that is if you fail to catch the toast, the evil spirits fling the toast at Mama and smack her in the head with it, making her eyes all swirly.
Another thing that makes this series, or at least this game so funny is that a lot of these tasks would be incredibly simple if Mama wasn't teaching you to be a show off. Take for example this machine that pokes the pits out of cherries. Any sane person would just place the cherry on the slot, and press the lever to poke the pit out. That's not how Mama teaches it though. The REAL way to do it is to shoot the cherries onto the slot like you'd shoot a marble, and time it so you press the lever when it's in the slot. Of course if you miss, the cherry falls on the ground and it counts as a screw up.
Another thing that can make this game unintentionally funny is only if you have a filthy mind, because there are a lot of great innuendos in the instructions for the mini-games. a few examples are...
"Move the corndogs upward and stick them in the fryer. Be careful of your timing!"
"Move the sausage left and right to cover it with batter."
and probably the best one...
"Touch the Mandarin to squeeze out the juice. If you squeeze too hard, the juice will go flying!"
And finally the other thing that makes this whole series so funny is how Mama can take such a simple thing like toast and jam or making a popsicle, and turn it into an incredibly complicated process. How complex can making a popsicle be? Take a popsicle tray, pour apple juice in the holes, stick it in the fridge. Somehow Mama finds a way to make it so we have to cut up several different fruits, all the while dealing with the demons in the kitchen and your teacher telling you to show off and make things overly difficult.
And this is the core joke of the series that I think most people miss, be it intentional or not. Mama is the character that holds the whole game together, being the adorable teacher who is kind and reassuring even when you screw up, but aside from her being a charming and nice person, she's really not a very good teacher. A good teacher would try to make things as simple as possible at first to ease you into the field they're teaching, but Mama makes things overly complex, and makes the tasks extra hard just for the sake of looking like a pro when you're really just learning. She's really quite an incompetent teacher, and that's what makes the whole game such a big joke.
Now even with all the praise to the other aspects, is Cooking Mama 4 fun to play? Well the previous DS titles frustrated me with some mini-games that I had no idea what to do on, but Mama 4 seems to be pretty good about that so far, and it's much more fun because of it. It's also a lot more forgiving with the scoring as it will now let you make certain types of mistakes without it affecting your final grade, which makes the process a lot less infuriating when you actually do screw up enough to have it dock your score. But really, this game seems to play on the craziness of it all rather than making it about the actual cooking, and I'd say that's a good thing. Mama herself has always been one of the cutest and most lovable game characters ever created, but she's always been a bit loopy. Making it so everything around her is also crazy really benefits the game, and makes Mama that much more lovable.
I don't know if the whole series has been like this since I never really payed attention to that when I played previous games, but Cooking Mama 4 is definitely a silly game when you look into it, and is much more than just a girly casual game. It's certainly an acquired taste since you'd have to be one of those "kid at heart" type of people to really notice and appreciate it's zaniness, but if you like that sort of thing, this game is certainly for you. It may not be the most invigorating gameplay in the world, but picking it up and making a recipe is a great way to kill some time before putting it down and doing something else. It's a great once-in-a-while-game that is sure to bring a smile to your face, and add a fun, silly game to your 3DS library.