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Cooking Mama Cookstar's An Undercooked Mess

Cooking Mama Cookstar Title Screen
Courtesy of Cooking Mama Limited

Cooking Mama Cookstar

Release Date: March 25, 2021
Available as: Digital and Physical

Cooking Mama, Because ‘Mining Mama’ Sounded Too Good

The story of Cooking Mama Cookstar is interesting for a game that didn’t deserve such history as all Cookstar should have been was the latest addition of a long-running series. If I were to determine Cookstar’s merit from a gameplay’s perspective, especially after playing the game for almost an hour, that would be the final verdict. I’d end the first look preview on that note, considering.

However, it’s because of Cookstar’s weird history that brought the game unintentionally to the limelight for all the wrong reasons and it all began with an unauthorized launch on the Switch eShop. When Cooking Mama Cookstar was released on the Nintendo eShop on March 31st, 2020, it was immediately pulled from the store for unknown reasons at the time. Cookstar had its share of controversy due to the potentiality of the game having blockchain technology embedded in a user’s Switch.

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Cooking Mama Cookstar - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Not Even Mama Herself Was Pleased With The Result

The developers, 1st Playable, immediately denied such claims without citing the real reason behind the game’s sudden takedown from the eShop. Dataminers who had access to the game cited that the game drained battery due to the “shoddy removal of currency and blockchain code,” yet again this was neither confirmed nor denied as a plausible reason. Eventually, the real reason came to light and it was due to a dispute between the publisher, Planet Entertainment, and the IP holder of Cooking Mama, Office Create better known as Cooking Mama Limited. 

This dispute took form with the publishers releasing the game on the system despite the IP holders urging them to polish the game more before release. Once Planet Entertainment released the game anyway, Office Create immediately used their connections to convince Nintendo to remove the game altogether, throwing oil in the fire of an already complicated situation. 

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Cooking Mama Cookstar - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Nope, We’re Still Not Done With Cookstar’s Tragedy.

In an interview with Screen Rant, an unnamed developer stated that “while the game was far from perfect, we have done the best we could with the Cooking Mama IP” while also stating that if it wasn’t for the meddling of the IP owners, the game’s development would have been a lot smoother.

Hearing from the developer’s words that their own game wasn’t the best it could have been does nothing more for me than raise several yellow flags. The controversy surrounding the removal including its speculations only raised several more red flags, and soon the game faded into obscurity from its eventual release later on in the year. 

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Cooking Mama Cookstar - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Even Cooking Mama Cookstar’s Release Had Issues

Obviously, this is not the case because there’s now a PS4 version of Cooking Mama Cookstar that was released in 2021, which is even more humorous as the PS4 version was slated to be released alongside the Switch version but was shelved due to executive meddling listed above. 

The release of Cookstar on the PS4 was released with very little fanfare, quietly appearing on the PlayStation store and various retailers. The same goes for the Switch version, as physical copies can be ordered from stores including Target and Best Buy among others. Just recently, the game was released in Australia a mere several weeks ago.

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Cooking Mama Cookstar - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Finally, We Can Talk About The “Game”

So, with the history lesson taking longer than most coverages of titles I’ve done in the past out of the way, surely all of this excitement leads to the payoff that is Cookstar right? Well, unfortunately, its reputation did not just precede Cookstar, it outright exceeds it. 

Cooking Mama at its core is nothing more than a series of minigames involving usage of the device to complete objectives and Cookstar is no different. The boasts and claims involving “motion controls” are non-existent on the PS5 version at least, only using the analog sticks to mimic the actions of chopping a knife, kneading dough, and mixing ingredients. Occasionally, the touchpad is used to mimic the actions of grating cheese, for example, but even these gestures become repetitive as you go through the recipes.

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Cooking Mama Cookstar - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

The Recipes Are Diverse, The Gameplay Isn’t

Despite the number of recipes available, ranging from lamb gyros to, uh, rainbow-colored grilled cheese dishes, each of the actions tend to overlap with one another. It doesn’t matter if you’re grating cheese or grating bread for breadcrumbs, the actions for these steps are the exact same. This becomes even more of a hilarious point when the vegetable dishes are included, as these dishes do nothing to break the monotony of the game. It only adds to the redundancy

An example of this is the lamb gyro dish and its vegetable counterpart, the chickpea gyro. Can you guess the difference in steps? Here’s a hint, it involves the main ingredient and it involves replacing slicing the shawarma with opening a can of chickpeas. That’s the only difference and the action isn’t even that much of a change as it involves rotating the analog stick versus flicking the analog stick. 

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Cooking Mama Cookstar - PlayStation 5 Direct Capture

Cooking Mama Cookstar Was Cooked Raw On Arrival

Not even the incentive on unlocking customizable equipment was enough to lure me into playing more past the allotted time as I couldn’t care less about changing Mama’s appearance. I was quicker to turn Mama’s voice off in the options menu than I was to care about what color her bandana and apron appeared to me.

Overall, there are far better minigame-based games on both the PlayStation and the Switch with the Cooking Mama series showing its age on many accounts. Perhaps at this point, it’s best to let the Mama retire from her duties rather than defend an IP as passionately as meddling executives have in the past year. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all a publicity stunt for the public eye to remotely care about Cooking Mama, not as a brand or for its gameplay, but because it simply happened to be in the news at the time.

Cooking Mama Cookstar is available on the PS4 and Switch.

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