Cooking Star places you in the kitchen, cooking up recipes by playing a variety mini-games. You’ll find yourself stacking burgers, tossing meatballs into a pot, and even flipping your kebabs. Each mini-game seems tailor made to the iPhone, and could not be done without a touch screen or accelerometer. Let’s look at how this $1.99 game fares:
Upping the difficulty: Each time you follow a recipe, the experience will change. When you complete it, the level of difficulty ramps up next time and gets appropriately harder. There are five difficulty levels for each of the recipes. The first time through you feel like a cooking champ, but by the latter levels it gets really tough.
iPhone specific controls: Some of the recipes really work to the iPhone’s benefit. To flip kebabs, you actually flip your iPhone screen away from you, which matches the actual action quite well. Other interesting ones are rolling rice balls by carefully tiltling the screen to roll the ball around the table, and even chopping tofu into blocks in mid-air like a samurai ninja.
Unlocking real recipes: Each day, there is a new challenge posted for you to complete five recipes at set difficulties. If you can beat the target score, you’ll actually unlock a real world recipe to use. It’s a cool idea, and with so many recipes to unlock it makes you want to come back and play more.
Some minigames have been done: Making hamburgers, for one, is implemented better in the game Scoops, or the more recently released Sky Burger. For the most part, the idea was the some: stack falling condiments by tilting your iPhone left and right to move the burger. Another challenge, cooking borscht, is a Tap Tap clone which is no doubt better implemented in the original. These felt less inspired than some of the other, more original recipes.
Meatballin’: The meatball game is not fun — it’s incredibly difficult at the harder levels, and I found it impossible to complete. You need to throw meatballs into a pot by bouncing them off a table. While the idea makes sense as a mini-game, adding in certain spots you need to hit while bouncing and trying to set your trajectory perfectly was just too frustrating.
Overall, Cooking Star is a fun game and worth the $1.99. The difficulty helps to increase the game’s longetivity, and so do the unlockable recipes. Many of the mini games are unique and challenging. I hate to say it, but Cooking Mama has just been pushed out of the kitchen!
Cooking Star was developed by Glu Mobile and is available on the iPhone and iPod Touch for a special introductory price of $1.99. The version played for review was 1.0, on an iPod Touch 2G. Played through each minigame multiple times, on several difficulties.