Review: Yummy Yummy Cooking Jam (DSiWare)

A fallen soufflé

You may remember this game from its appearance on WiiWare, so you won't be surprised to know this is a direct port. We didn’t think much to its incarnation on the Wii, particularly struggling with its controls, but now it’s on the DSi is it more to our taste?

Yes and no, is the answer. Essentially, the DSiWare version is all-but identical to the Wii edition, only really lacking the two-player competitive mode from its home console bigger brother. The graphics have survived surprisingly well, keeping their cutesy style and bright palette, although some of the menu screens are a little unclear. The various bizarre characters that frequent your restaurant, from vampires to Vikings and everywhere in between, are nice and clear on the top screen, leaving the bottom screen as your work area.

The game flow works pretty simply. Customers magically appear in your restaurant on the top screen, you pass them a menu then provide them with what they order. Dividing the play area into halves is a clever move, with “pigeonholes” at the top of the touchscreen corresponding to the seats in the restaurant on the top screen. Rather than dragging your meals over the characters as you could in the Wii, you simply pass them along through one of these holes, and that’s also where customers leave their tips at the end of a meal. It’s nice and clear, and on the whole works much better than the control system on Wii.

Starting off in a humble hot dog restaurant, you learn the ropes of taking orders and passing out meals. At first it’s a case of simply putting the right ingredients on a plate, but soon you have to heat it up, add ingredients in the correct order, apply sauce and more. It’s very straightforward at first, perhaps too much so; your first ten minutes will be spent making different kinds of hot dogs, after which you move onto ten minutes of burger-making. To its credit, the game adds new elements in every level and does so slowly to avoid overwhelming you too quickly, but it’s worth saying that your average gamer will find the game more than a little easy at first.

Once you’ve flipped your last burger you begin to create rather more complicated culinary offerings, but the general gameplay is the same – receive order, process it and move onto the next level, where you’ll generally be doing the same thing but in a different order. If you wanted to be really picky, you could say you’re doing the same thing in every level, and only the graphics change, but that would be ignoring the fact that even with the improved touchscreen controls, it gets very difficult later on.

In fact, its difficulty is probably the only way we can recommend this title to experienced gamers, although the chances are you’ll have switched off long before it becomes challenging enough to be worth your while. The first two restaurants are beyond easy, and sometimes you only need to serve two or three customers to earn enough tips to pass the level’s goal, meaning you can ignore anyone else who walks through your door and simply wait for time to pass. In a game which should pride itself on being frantic and a test of reactions and accuracy, you spend most of your first half an hour with the game waiting for your patrons to finish eating or drinking whatever it is you made them, which doesn’t make for a gripping introduction. If you persevere past these opening stages, you’ll find the game soon speeds up, and with more than two customers in at any one time you could struggle to feed them all quickly. Thankfully the game’s smart enough to avoid having four customers ask for burgers when you can only cook two at a time, so there’s rarely any bottlenecking, but you’ll need to be pretty quick on the draw to please everybody.

Conclusion

Yummy Yummy Cooking Jam starts out slowly but soon evolves into a decently enjoyable test of co-ordination, as long as you don’t mind a difficulty spike in your lunch. The touchscreen controls are markedly better than its WiiWare counterpart, and the fact it’s actually half the price at only 500 Points makes it even better.

Yet there’s enough to drag it down below a meaningful recommendation – it just isn’t that entertaining, and although the difficulty level finds a nice medium about a third of the way through its 48 levels, it’s hard to shake the feeling of absolute repetition. There’s no reward for setting high scores, so often you’ll do the bare minimum required to progress, and that’s no way a game should be played, surely?

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