The eponymous Cooking Mama will shower you with praise if you master the techniques: “Wow, even better than Mom!” she will exclaim if you earn three full stars for some cooking task.
However, it’s not all relaxing fun and games. “Kitchen Mom: Kitchen!” has poignant moments, especially when the food physics refuse to cooperate, like when you’re trying to get a stubborn onion or garlic off the cutting board in a time-based challenge. Or toss black bean meatballs with expert hand-eye coordination, being careful not to drop the ball (literally).
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“Kitchen Mom: Kitchen!” from developer Office Create Corp. came to Apple Arcade in June, but it’s still a relatively new release. The game starts with a few ingredients that can be combined to make different and easy to discover recipes. However, there are still not many recipes to unlock, as users must log in daily to receive new ingredients. The recipes so far seem to be tastier than some of the previous Cooking Mama titles and cover a wide range of cuisines.
The Cooking Mama franchise began in 2006, with the release of the first title for the Nintendo DS and aimed at girls. The franchise has had more than a dozen entries (some of which were flops).
Unlike another Cooking Mama mobile title called “Cooking Mama: Let’s Cook!”, “Cuisine” is included in Arcade, a $5 per month subscription curated and controlled by Apple since 2019. That means “Cuisine ” doesn’t rely on ads and in-game purchases to generate revenue, and as a result, its interface is decidedly less cluttered and overwhelming than “Let’s get cooking!” which has tons of pop-ups, in-game promotional event ads, and constant pleas to watch ads.
Office Create Corp. CEO Noriyasu Togakushi said the idea for “Cooking Mama: Cuisine!” It came from thinking about how Cooking Mama could exist on Apple Arcade as a fancier title without tons of microtransactions.
“This was a game we took on precisely because we were developing it for Apple Arcade, where we could focus on finding the fun of the game,” Togakushi said.
But “Cuisine” can also feel a bit basic and can be frustrating to play at times, as you don’t have the option to retry levels with in-game currency or buy new recipes in advance. Players can repeatedly prepare dishes, but are limited by the number of ingredients they have (and how many the game developers have included so far). New recipes are discovered by unlocking ingredients every day or by getting good results on a dish and collecting stars.
Released in 2015, “Cooking Mama: Let’s Cook!” It has been downloaded 34.1 million times worldwide on Apple’s App Store, according to data tracker Sensor Tower. It’s been harder to get a sense of just how popular “Cuisine” and, more generally, Apple’s Arcade subscription service has been. Apple declined to share data from specific apps. Sensor Tower said it did not collect data from Apple Arcade.
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The game’s use of different ingredients depending on the day is intended to resemble what cooking is like in real life, when people use what they have on hand. Office Create Corp. also worked on including recipes that could be freely followed in real life, though not accurately.
“’Cooking Mama’ is performed by people all over the world, so there are famous dishes that everyone knows that we can’t put aside,” he said “Cooking Mama: Cook!” producer Tomoaki Matsui. “But we also have to have a balance of recipes from different regions so that we can still provide the sense of surprise and discovery of cuisine.”
In order to recreate realistic-looking ingredients in the game, Tomoaki noted that the game’s developers either cooked the ingredients themselves or asked restaurants to share what the food preparation looks like.
“You have the way the oil jumps when you drop an ingredient into a hot, oiled pan. You have the way the ingredients move during various types of food preparation,” said Togakushi, the executive director. “We often get feedback from players saying that the cooking scenes and finished dishes in the game make them hungry, which I think is a sign of our success.”