Over 10 years after her debut, Mama's still serving up delicious treats. This entry in the long-running series has you help Mama make a variety of goodies for her bakery so pick up some flour and sugar and let's get baked!
For those unfamiliar with Cooking Mama, the series basically involves mastering a succession of mini-games in order to create a final product to the best of your ability. Sweet Shop is no exception. Apparently, there are over 160 mini-games which is an astronomical amount. They range from tedious tasks such as peeling bananas and mixing ingredients in a bowl to more complex feats like arranging objects in a refrigerator in order to make room for something to chill. One mini-game involves carrying a tray of food across the kitchen but you'd think your character's been in Mama's liquor cabinet the way they almost constantly tip it over. If you ever mess up, you may have to wipe batter off the screen or blow flour away via the microphone. It's fun stuff and there's so much variety that you'll play for hours and still come across new scenarios that'll test your skills with the stylus.
My only issue with the mini-games is that many of them are a bit too basic which can end up making parts of the experience feel tedious. I guess this is like baking in real life in that you have to do some annoying things along with the fun stuff.
Believe it or not, Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop contains 60 treats to make. Considering each one requires mastering a bunch of mini-games, this is an impressive amount. It'll take many hours to complete all of them yet there's still a lot to do even after you make every dessert. As you progress, a savvy businesswoman will start to show up at your shop and if you happen to have the treat that she's looking for and did a good job making it, she'll open a store based on that treat. These stores eventually open up all over the globe and each one can be played as a separate mini-game where you try to achieve a high score. For example, seeing how many cupcakes you can sort or macaroons you can assemble. These World Challenge mini-games may be fun but I sure wish there were leaderboards.
There's also a simulation element where you can setup your sweets in a shop. Upon entering the shop, you can wait for customers to come who then purchase items that they think look yummy. After earning some dough, you can buy different aprons and head scarves for Mama, renovate your kitchen, collect new kitchen utensils, and even purchase items to decorate your shop with.
Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop also includes a local multiplayer Download Play mode known as "Let's Play Together!" which consists of 15 mini-games that you can play competitively with up to four players. Doing so can be rather enjoyable but there's no defined structure as all you do is earn medals as you play the games then just turn it off whenever you get bored. Instead, I wish there was a structured tournament of mini-games so that you could see who the best player is by the end.
Fans of the series will be grateful that the classic charm remains as adorable as it's always been. The soft colour palettes, cheerful animation, and cute decorations make it a joy to play. Mama's voice is still the same, too. The actress is obviously Japanese yet she tries to pronounce things in English which is quite funny and charming. That being said, she only ever says a handful of lines so they repeat far too often. Another downside is that the graphics can be a bit dated. Some objects are very polygonal and have low-resolution textures. Thankfully, the 3D effect is implemented very well and it makes ingredients flying through the air look pretty cool.
Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop is bursting with charm and tons of enjoyable content. Fans of the series will gladly spend hours in Mama's kitchen but those who find stylus-based mini-game compilations boring probably won't be won over.
- + Huge variety of mini-games to master
- + Classic adorable presentation
- + Oodles of content that'll take hours to unlock and work through
- - Many of the mini-games are very basic
- - Dated graphics and repetitive voices
- - Download Play multiplayer mode could use more structure