Though the Switch is rapidly becoming the top dog in the Nintendo ecosystem, the 3DS still has plenty of life in it yet with some new hardware and a surprisingly lengthy lineup of games to come over the next several months. One such game is Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop, the latest entry in the long-running food-centric series.
To prepare for the game's impending release this month our own Morgan Sleeper and Mitch Vogel had a chance to pose a series of questions to Tomoaki Matsui, Producer at Office Create, regarding what we can expect out of this entry, where the series might go from here, and more.
Nintendo Life: First off, can you introduce yourself to our readers?
I'm Tomoaki Matsui and I've been involved in the development of Cooking Mama games since the first installment.
What was the inspiration behind focusing this entry around a sweet shop?
TM: Cooking Mama is a game focused on cooking food, but we started thinking about how can we get the players to experience other aspects such as who do you make the food for, and ways that the person receiving the food could play. This is how the idea of Sweet Shop began.
What new features and additions can we look forward to with Sweet Shop?
TM: In Cooking Mama Sweet Shop the player takes on the role of a Patissier, creating delicious cakes and arranging them in their shop for customers to enjoy. Furthermore, players can decorate the cakes they make in their own way so the recipes can be enjoyed over and over again.
Is there a reason Sweet Shop wasn't made a numbered entry in the series? How does the gameplay differ this time around?
TM: Cooking Mama Sweet Shop unique point is playing shop; the ability to create cakes and put them on display in your shop. Plus this game focuses only on cakes so we decided to give it a subtitle rather than a number.
What kind of notable changes, if any, are being made for the Western release?
TM: Aside from localizing the game there aren't any changes from the Japanese version.
How did Cooking Mama get its start?
TM: Nagashima-san who established the company wanted to make a game that used the Nintendo 3DS as a way to "play mom" rather than as a games machine. He also wanted to make something that his daughter and children of a similar age could enjoy.
Cooking Mama games have always appealed to both children and adults; how do you approach that balance with the series?
TM: The concept that even if you fail you can complete the recipe means that children can enjoy the game along with those that are not used to playing games. Also, we don't focus on game difficulty levels or techniques, but rather strive to give players the experience of actually making a recipe on their Nintendo 3DS. These design principles help make the game enjoyable for all players regardless of age.
There have been several sequels and spinoffs released in this series since its start on the DS. How has this diverse history impacted the development of Sweet Shop? What kind of lessons have you learned over the years?
TM: We leant that no matter how fun the game is, if there is long explanation and many things to remember before the game starts players will get bored. It's best to keep the amount of information to a minimum and design the games so players intuitively know how to play. Cooking Mama Sweet Shop benefits from all of the things we have learnt throughout the series so far.
With this being the final Cooking Mama game for the 3DS, where does the series go from here? What kind of possibilities do you see in developing a hypothetical Cooking Mama game for the Switch?
TM: There are currently so many exciting technologies, such as virtual and augmented reality, mobile, tablets, and even new game consoles like Nintendo Switch. We aren't announcing anything right now because we are concentrating on Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop, and we look forward to revealing our plans in the future.
Cooking Mama has occasionally branched out into other styles, such as gardening and camping. What are some other styles of "Mama" games that you would be interested in making?
TM: We're looking to expand the Cooking Mama series using themes such as work and housework that children see every day but cannot experience themselves.
Which Cooking Mama game (or spin-off) would you say is your favourite?
TM: I'm quite attached to each of the games we have created, but Cooking Mama Sweet Shop is the best game in the series.
Do the members of Office Create enjoy cooking in real life? What are some of your favourite dishes to make?
TM: As you can probably imagine, we've got a lot of information on cooking in the office so there are a lot of staff in the office that like cooking. Myself, I prefer eating that food rather than cooking it!
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! Are there any last thoughts you'd like to leave our readers with?
TM: In Cooking Mama Sweet Shop in addition to making the sweets you also get to arrange the sweets you make in your own shop. Of course there are lots of recipes to make in the traditional Cooking Mama, each one broken down into a series of fun mini games. I hope you will enjoy making your own cakes and sharing them with your friends and family!
Cooking Mama Sweet Shop launches at retail for 3DS on 16th of May in North America and 26th of May in Europe, arriving on 18th and 25th May respectively on the eShop.