What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver Review
What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Atari 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Keen Games 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 21, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Moving on to the cooking game aspect, you’ll initially wind up in Oliver’s 3D virtual kitchen, though nine others can be unlocked. There you’ll be able to cook meals by jumping back and forth to different stations like the sink, stovetop, island, the fridge, and a convection oven. Using the stylus you’ll mix, chop, heat, combine, and cook ingredients as you follow the directions on the upper screen.

What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot

The interface looks nice, but it’s rather awkward to use properly and tough to navigate. It’s also easy to misplace or lose track of ingredients you’ve pulled out, since you’re often prepping different ingredients at different stations. Interacting with the ingredients and tools is imprecise at times. The commendable complexity and depth the developers were going for is certainly apparent. However, it’s executed in a way that tends to be more confusing and frustrating than fun.

The Test Kitchen mode gives you recipes to complete at your own pace with the purpose of unlocking new dishes as you get better. A series of tutorials shows you the basics, but they’re not particularly helpful when you’re neck deep in preparing a dish and problems arise. Get Stuck In mode lets you freely create your own dishes, while Cook Off challenges you to complete dishes accurately within the allotted time. Even with multiple play modes, the game doesn’t really instill a strong sense of purpose or achievement when completing recipes.

Visually, all of the professionally snapped photographs of each dish are wonderful. They make the meals look appealing. Oliver never pops up in the gameplay himself, but his likeness is plastered all over transitional screens. The kitchen graphics are decent. In contrast, all of the audio in the game is borderline horrendous. Over at the decoration and presentation station of the kitchen you can tap the nearby radio to pick from atrocious, feel-good instrumental tunes sporting names like “The World Can Be Nice,” “A Week in Santa Fe,” and, “You Are My Friend.” Most of the songs are painful to listen to. Also, Oliver’s voice crops up frequently to read dish names and offer upbeat snippets of praise or encouragement. Unfortunately, his voice sounds extremely garbled and robotic.

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On his website, Oliver expressed excitement about sharing a cookbooks worth of recipes with gamers on the DS, as he hopes to get as many people cooking easy, tasty meals as possible. Granted, some who pick up the game may indeed find it useful to learn how to cook a few solid dishes, but this is nothing that can’t be done in a more practical manner by grabbing one of his cookbooks. The actual gaming portion of this package is painfully unintuitive and fails to deliver any sort of experience of lasting worth. A food analogy properly sums it up. Pizza, salad, and cake are all good on their own, but haphazardly mash the three together results in an unpalatable mess. Sadly, such is the case with What’s Cooking.

By Nathan Meunier
CCC Staff Contributor

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.2
Graphics
Decent 3D kitchens and snazzy pictures of yummy food are mingled with dull recipe and ingredient lists.
2.4
Control
It’s pretty tough to be effective in the kitchen with these stylus-frustrating controls.
1.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The canned instrumental music is horrible and Oliver’s poorly digitized “I’m going to eat your soul” voice is rather scary.
2.4

Play Value
The game portion of this title fails. The cookbook is interesting, but not enough to warrant the price of this package.

2.3
Overall Rating - Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Learn to Cook with the Best!: Have fun while Jamie shows you how to create 100 of his delicious recipes.
  • Test it then try it : Try out Jamie’s recipes in one of ten virtual test kitchens using real ingredients; then try it at home.
  • Cook against the clock: Challenge yourself to make the perfect dish in no time and become a master chef.
  • Your own personal shopper: Create and store your personal shopping list so you never leave anything behind.
  • Create and share: Store up to 100 of your own secret recipes and share with your friends using DS Multi-Card Play.


  • Screenshots / Images
    What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge What's Cooking? with Jamie Oliver screenshot - click to enlarge

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