Cooking Mama: Cuisine! is the 15th game in the series (if you include the spinoffs) that was first published 16 years ago. And it has not changed much.
The game is still essentially a collection of minigames each representing a step in food preparation. These steps are then grouped to form recipes.
The goal of the games is to prepare all the recipes perfectly by completing each minigame within the designated time and margin of error.
What makes each iteration of Cooking Mama stand out is the novel way it takes advantage of each system it was published on. For example, the first Cooking Mama was published for the Nintendo DS. It uses the stylus to simulate chopping, pouring, and stirring of ingredients.
What makes Cooking Mama: Cuisine! special is it’s the second game in the series on a mobile device and, because it’s on Apple Arcade, it doesn’t have microtransactions.
The game is best played using a touchscreen, of course. It plays well on the iPhone but it plays best on the iPad because of the ratio of the display.
Certain minigames will require you to swipe down or up. On an iPhone, it’s so narrow that I often end up accidentally pulling down the control centre or pushing up the app.
That said, I had a lot of fun with the games at first.
Cooking Mama: Cuisine! begins presenting the player with a pool of ingredients and cooking appliances. A player starts by picking one or more of these ingredients.
If the items picked are compatible, the Let’s Try button will be enabled and you can start “cooking”.
Completing a recipe unlocks it. Do it perfectly and you get three stars. These stars will push a progress bar along and unlock customised options for the kitchen, appliances, and Mama herself.
As you play more ingredients and appliances will be added to the pool and in turn, let you cook more things.
But soon enough, game progression screeches to a halt.
The thing is, I have to guess what combination of ingredients and appliances I haven’t used to unlock new recipes. Because the pool of ingredients and appliances is random, sometimes I can’t find new combinations even if I refer to the recipe book option. This kills the momentum.
To be fair some recipes can be prepared again to unlock variants. But they are rare.
I recommend that this game be played in short bursts. And unless you’re a completionist, you’d probably stop before you’ve found all the recipes (like I did), and that’s perfectly alright.