There are game series that many people don’t take seriously despite how many titles they produce. Any series with cartoon graphics tend to be written off as childish which is unfair to say the least. Cooking Mama is one of these titles and deserves far more respect than it receives. While not the most complex or interesting concept, the presentation is pleasant and accessible to folks of all ages. You can even make a case that it works as a rudimentary teaching tool for aspiring chefs. However, even a series as harmless as this one appears is not immune to controversy. With Cooking Mama: Cookstar now available on the PlayStation Store, let’s dive into why it was such a struggle to release it in the first place.
A Mama’s Backstory
Who would guess that locking a PDA and Game Boy in a room with no entertainment would lead to one of the best handheld consoles of our time? The DS made a big splash and inspired a whole new type of game design with its interface. Developers were racking their brains on how to use the stylus and touchscreen without making it feel forced. The team behind Office Create would pave the way with Cooking Mama, a game about preparation and cooking. Players could choose what dishes to cook and each step of the recipe took the form of a little minigame a la WarioWare. It quickly became one of the DS’s best-known titles and went on to have five distinct titles on the platform, all received favorably.
With the release of the Wii and game design being pushed into the world of motion controls, Cooking Mama followed suit. Though not as productive as the DS line, there are still three Cooking Mama Wii games that brought in a decent audience. It then planned to make a leap onto the Switch to keep up with the mainstream and console evolution with the creation Cooking Mama: Cookstar. No one knew the storm of intrigue and conflict that would surround its release, most notably on Nintendo’s eShop.
The average person knows better than to believe idle gossip, but the gaming world runs on community and discussion. While the folks behind any game try to keep conflicts private, things have a way seeping through the cracks. As is the way, one of the events that started speculation were delays in release. Delays in a game’s release are as common as pigeons on a memorial statue, but reasons for them constantly change. In the case of Cooking Mama: Cookstar, delays seemed to revolve around the usual things such as bug-testing and technical adjustments. The strangeness didn’t begin until after the reasons took a turn for the alarming. Claims started popping up that downloading Cookstar would allow the software to mine cryptocurrency from your device. Additionally, it was said that running the game would cause your Switch to overheat and damage the console.
It wasn’t long before Nintendo decided to pull the game from its eShop and players were left with the few physical copies available. Even to this day, Cookstar cannot be found on the eShop while the truth behind banning it has come to light.
Sometimes people exaggerate lies because the truth is just too simple or boring. Rather than cryptocurrency scams and overheating warnings, the reason for banning Cookstar was one of dispute. It seems that IP owners Office Create and one of Cooking Mama: Cookstar’s publishers Planet Entertainment were feuding over release dates. The former believed that the game needed more development and testing while the latter were simply eager to release it. It was released without the agreement of both parties, leading to motion to get it banned from the platform. In the eyes of Office Create, they were releasing an unfinished product.
This is evident in how the game was received, best summarized by a shaky palm held horizontally. Though certainly not the Cooking Mama game with the lowest score, it definitely didn’t blow any minds. Maybe it’s a series meant to thrive on small handheld devices and the Switch covers half that, the Switch Lite even more so. However, as with the Wii titles, the transition from stylus and touchscreen to motion controls was not the smoothest.
What’s Next on the Menu?
It’s hard to believe that Cooking Mama: Cookstar was released a little over a year ago now. Its sudden resurgence on the PlayStation Store is cause for reflection. However, it also highlights the future of the series. There doesn’t seem to be any new Cooking Mama games on the horizon which is not surprising. Perhaps after such an ordeal, Office Create are unsure about the IP. Whether this is the end for Cooking Mama only time will tell, yet there's still hope. Since dropping on PS4, Cookstar has been getting some favorable reviews and with their controllers having a touchpad, we may see a return to classic Cooking Mama gameplay.