Cooking Mama was released three years ago. It offered 96 different recipes and saw you making meals by playing numerous different mini-games. It was fun. Cooking Mama 2 was released 18 months later. It offered 80 different recipes and saw you making meals by playing numerous different mini-games. It was fun too, even though it seemed a bit of a cash-in for being far too similar. Cooking Mama 3 has now been released another 18 months later. It offers 80 different recipes and sees you making meals by playing numerous different mini-games. It's not fun. At least, it's not if you've played the first two games.
Play the first Cooking Mama for a while then play this one and, other than the recipes changing, there's really not a lot of difference. The music is the same. Mama still stands watching you as the timer clock ticks round. The bell still dings when you're done and Mama will still either say "even better than Mama" if you did great or "don't worry, Mama will fix this" (as her eyes burst into flames) if you messed up. You still unlock recipes as you play and you still unlock different outfits for Mama too, allowing you to customise her and her surroundings.
Just Like Mama Used To Make
Most of the other new modes in the game are just old modes masquerading as something else. Let's Match sees you choosing two ingredients from a selection of six and combining them to make a new recipe. Sounds unique but it's just an excuse to add another 15 recipes to the main game because once you've chosen your two ingredients it's mini-game business as usual.
In fact, the only proper new addition is the Let's Shop mode, where you have to run around a supermarket collecting ingredients for Mama before time runs out. This ends up being infinitely frustrating because the supermarket is full of people who have a habit of running into you, and every time you hit someone you have to play a dull and lengthy mini-game before you can continue.
What's worse, the stylus controls are so bad in this section that you'll often tap the area you want to go to and the game will ignore you, causing you to stand still and have the character whose mini-game you just cleared bump into you, forcing you to play the mini-game all over again. Frustration has never been this blatant.
If Cooking Mama 3 were a steak, it'd be a medium-cooked one. It's satisfying enough, but it's certainly not rare and it's not exactly well done.