In my ever exciting life as a gaming journo, I stopped by Majesco today to check out some titles coming out this year, most notably Cooking Mama: Cook Off for the Wii. Not only did I get to see the game in action, but I also got to play a little multiplayer as well. Since the title is so simple, there wasn't a whole lot of time spent with it.
Either way, hit the jump for my impressions. Oh, and before you go, here's one very important thing to know: No online multiplayer. I'll get into that when you click on over.
Let's get the basic junk out of the way: Cooking Mama on the Wii will ship in April this year and retail for $49.99 -- kind of steep if you ask me for a game like this, but oh well. The game will feature NO online multiplayer whatsoever -- more on that later -- but will have some cool offline multiplayer cook-off modes, including a new challenge mode. There are more than 250 foods to create and 55 real world dishes from 10 different nations: Japan, America, France, India, Russia, England, China, Spain, Germany and Italy.
OK, now for the good stuff. The gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect if you played the DS version. It's not a straight port, but it's very similar as far as modes and play styles. If you've played WarioWare for the Wii, you'll actually find a lot of the movements to be very similar on Cooking Mama, except you of course do them with a Wiimote this time.
The sad part is though, that like WarioWare, some of the Wiimote gestures are a bit tricky and don't respond as well as you'd like -- this is actually a disturbing trend on the Wii.
The happy part is that the game is fun, especially in the two-player challenge mode. It's no Iron Chef, but it is a light and easy game that you could play with your kid sister or aging grandma. In essence, the game is a perfect example of what the Wii is all about: It's casual, it's fun, and it's simple.
My biggest bone to pick with the game is the lack of online multiplayer. I spoke with the Majesco rep about it and he talked about how Nintendo was still keeping their online service a secret from developers. Basically saying that Nintendo is not letting devs know how to develop their games for Nintendo's online service.
In case you don't think this is a problem, let me tell you, it is. In fact, the rep was telling me that the online question is the #1 thing he is asked all the time about the game. Everyone wants it and everyone wants to know about it. The bottomline is that for now, if a Wii game doesn't have online, don't blame the developer or publisher. It seems that Nintendo is content to keep online on their games only ... for now.
Let me finish by saying this: I liked Cooking Mama on the DS and I like this Wii version. While the Wiimote may not have been as accurate as I would have liked for some of the actions, this was an early build and they do have some time to lock things down, so there is hope.