Cooking Mama: Cuisine! is the latest game to come to Apple Arcade, bringing cooking sim fun to your iPhone or iPad. As with older Nintendo DS titles, Mama is there to praise you and help you with her over-the-top facial expressions. While this new entry doesn't do a ton to deviate the minigames from past titles, it does provide some progression as well as a reason to come back every day. Plus, cooking all of those delicious dishes is extremely satisfying.
And don't worry. For anyone wondering, Cuisine! is a major improvement over Cookstar.
It's no secret that the last game, Cooking Mama: Cookstar, which released in 2020, failed to impress people — it's currently resting with a Metascore of just 46 and Metacritic User Score of 6.7. On top of the low-quality gameplay, Cookstar had licensing issues between the publisher and developer that lead it to being pulled from store shelves and the Nintendo eShop shortly after release. But fortunately, Cooking Mama: Cuisine! makes up for what the previous game lacked and doesn't have any legal scandal to taint the experience on Apple Arcade.
In many ways, Cooking Mama is the perfect Apple Arcade game due to the focus on touch controls. The very first game released on DS back in 2006 and relied on players using a stylus to participate in minigames like chopping potatoes and frying onions. On iPhone and iPad, I just use my finger to tap, slide, or place items as instructed for each minigame. Most minigames are incredibly easy, making this a fun game for people of all ages and skill levels. I even had fun watching my favorite shows while playing this on my iPad since I didn't need to pay too much attention.
Another reason Cooking Mama works so well on Apple Arcade is that the game can easily receive updates to include new recipes and ingredients. The list of ingredients available to you changes each day to keep the game fresh and interesting, so it'll come in handy.
In previous Cooking Mama games, players were brought to the kitchen and then given a recipe to make. Cuisine! changes this up by trying to add a more realistic element with a touch of surprise. Just like when you come home for the day and stare at the available food items in your pantry trying to figure out what you can make, Cuisine! gives you a limited number of ingredients and appliances to work with each day and then lets you choose which ones to use.
You won't know what you're cooking until you finish the recipe, which adds a fun layer of discovery. So you can keep trying different ingredient combinations to try and unlock as many recipes as possible. As you cook, you unlock more daily ingredients and maybe even a new appliance, giving you more options to work with. It wasn't always easy for me to remember what ingredient combos I'd used already in a day, but the game makes even accidental repeats worth it. For instance, I ended up making donuts twice, but at the end of my second cooking session, Mama suggested we add chocolate, which unlocked a brand new recipe.
Unlike in previous Cooking Mama games, Mama will never get upset at you with those iconic fiery eyes and tell you you've failed. I kind of miss this since it was funny in its own way, but it makes the game more approachable. Mama's always happy at your work even when you fail miserably. If you fail to get the desired three-star score you can always work on the recipe again as long as the ingredients are still available.
The game also rewards you for cooking dishes by unlocking new customizations for Mama or for the kitchen. I don't know why dressing up digital characters is so fun, but I found myself smiling every time I got a new outfit or hairstyle for Mama. It kept me going, wanting to unlock more.
Really, the biggest downside to this game is that chopping those satisfying veggies, stirring that pot, and making desserts made me hungry in real life. I had to consciouisly tell myself that it didn't make sense to make a lavish feast at midnight after playing this game for over an hour. But if you want to look at amazing meals without the mess or hassle of real cooking, you ought to check Cuisine! out.
Unlimited games, one price
Apple Arcade has over a hundred premium games with more added regularly each week. There is something here for everyone, and it only costs $5 a month for all you can game!