Cooking Mama absolutely baffles me. For numerous reasons, actually, but some are more important than others.
One of the reasons is that I don’t know why I bought it. While I don’t remember when I did, I’m now 22 years old, soon 23. And I’m a man. I am a man that owned a video game entitled Cooking Mama.
It’s so obvious that the series isn’t aimed at me that I shouldn’t be surprised that I didn’t like it. I found the constant minigames to be boring, lacking the excitement of the likes of WarioWare, and the interaction mechanics were cumbersome. I often found myself staring at the screen like I was in a real-life cook-off, not having a clue what to do.
Baffle point number three is my complete lack of understanding as to why little girls do like this stuff when there’s other, better quality games for them. Instead of the series that have sprouted from the success of this, why haven’t Majesco just bunged it all into one title? From garden (ing mama) to kitchen, get rid of the 100% minigame structure and have a bit of a Harvest Moon-lite thing going instead. You could build yourself up from Mama to Delia Smith, choosing what to cook in your self-styled kitchen, unlocking better equipment as you go. The better you do at the cooking, the more points you’d get to expand your kitchen and garden, and so on. I think that could be a Nintendogs competitor, but Majesco have taken the route most travelled in putting out sequel after sequel.
PETA has criticised the lack of a Vegetarian Mama, making the titular lady out to be a one-woman slaughterhouse.
And, as mentioned, there’s the off-shoots. Gardening Mama is a real thing, which shows Majesco have the technology. They can rebuild her. But it’s just the same minigame overload, and god forbid I even mention Babysitting Mama. But I must, because this is where my baffling myself concludes.
In making these off-shoots, and particularly Babysitting Mama, complete with baby doll attachment for the Wii remote, Majesco pushed boundaries, something they’re refusing to do with the main series. Why?
Okay, so I know why. They’re afraid of making the main series as bad as their off-shoots. Only NGamer and IGN decided to review Babysitting Mama, which should give you a sign that a game really is awful when other places don’t even want to talk about it, but I think Majesco really put a foot forward there. They found their audience, they did market research on what else that audience likes, and then they took a chance on something that might not work. It’s a bit like The Apprentice, lacking the overall quality control that would actually make the thing good, but the intelligence is in there.
The baby doll attachment for the Wii remote shows that Majesco will throw themselves into an idea. I can see that, with more work and improved QA, Cooking Mama could be a series that could really champion a console the sales power of young girls being as unusually strong as it is.
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