Not everyone has access to personal chefs, cooking classes, or even a parent that can cook well. Sometimes, you have to turn to television, books, and the like to learn how to prepare something, but those can be boring. Over the course of the past three decades, video games have become a defining part of American culture. They’ve also proven, time and again, to become a good source of knowledge on how to do things, from saving the princess to learning how to throw fireballs. Some games make a point to show the player how to cook, accurately or not. If you need to learn a recipe, these games might not be the most accurate, but they might be the most fun way to learn some simple skills.
Cooking Mama is the undisputed queen of cooking in video games. The first title, one of the earliest for the Nintendo DS that fully showed off the capabilities of Nintendo’s new and oddly dual-screened handheld (that was so distinct from it’s previous attempts at gaming, they feared to attached the “Gameboy” moniker in case it failed). In this game, the player simply follows Mama’s instructions in how to create dishes; chop these vegetables, slice this meat, mix this broth, and so forth. It’s simple minigame fun, but players can actually learn a fair amount of simplistic cooking skills from it, such as how to cut an onion. The success of the title lead to Cooking Mama 2: Dinner with Friends, Cooking Mama 3: Shop & Chop, Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic, Cooking Mama: Cook Off, and Cooking Mama: World Kitchen, and the cooking free Babysitting Mama, Crafting Mama, Gardening Mama, and Camping Mama.
Mama apparently is busy woman. Who said staying at home wasn’t a full-time job? If anything counts, ticking off PETA is always a sign you’ve made it.
Motoko-chan no Wonder Kitchen
Literally, the title translates to “Little Motoko’s Wonder Kitchen”. The title, an obscure promotional release for the Super Famicom (Japan’s iteration of the Super Nintendo), featured branded items from Japanese supermarkets. The title was educational, teaching about the history of and what goes into the items, alongside how to cook the dishes.
Chef Pete Pepper must walk across ingredients suchs as buns, lettuce, and beef patties to make them fall, creating sandwiches. Fighting the forces of Mr. Egg, Mr. Hot Dog, and Mr. Pickle, Peter Pepper went to star in Peter Pepper’s Ice Cream Factory, and Peter Pepper Jr. took the spotlight in Super Burger Time. The spinoff title Diner was released for the home market, alongside such modern releases as BurgerTime Delight and BurgerTime World Tour.
While Burger Time might not be as held in as high of regard as contemporary arcade classics such as Galaga and Donkey Kong, it definitely is a fun game that’s made returns to the scene every few years.
One of the biggest casual games of recent years, Cake Mania features Jill Evans, a baker trying to save her grandparents bakery. Over the course of the series, Jill travels through time, gets married, and has kids. It’s an odd plot for a game that just basically has players directing the lead to ingredients in an attempt to manage a bakery, but with seven main titles released, it’s definitely showed it’s addictive qualities. We can’t guarantee you’ll learn anything from a game featuring a time-traveling baker, but who knows.
Personal Trainer: Cooking
Part of Nintendo’s Touch! Generations line-up, the Nintendo DS title is a straight-out cookbook with interactive elements. “Players” can hear an audio guide, watch videos, and take notes and such. The Game & Watch title “Chef” is unlockable in the title. It received a sequel, America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking.
Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine
Even the Iron Chefs got into the video game world. Released on the Nintendo Wii and Nintendo DS, Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisines effectively features the gameplay of Cooking Mama, but featuring the voice acting of Mark Dacascos, Alton Brown, Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto, and Cat Cora.