Review: Cooking Mama 3: Shop and Chop (Nintendo DS)

Cooking mama 3 unlock all recipes

Cooking Mama 3:

Shop and Chop Publisher: Majesco Developer: Cooking Mama Ltd Genre: Simulation Release date: 20/10/2009

My first thought when I read the description of this game was “I’m not in the target demographic of this game”. He was dead. Still, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I’ll try anything once, especially if it’s on the DS. Moreover, it didn’t hurt that the Cooking Mama series has a pretty good reputation and uses the stylus for everything. I love games like that.

It didn’t take ten minutes to play this before he asserted two things. First, I’m not really on target demographics for this game. You are welcome. Secondly, I can cook a great Samosa! Seriously, pumped fist after making the perfect heart-shaped marshmallows for grandma.

This was going to be an interesting trip


Game modes:

There is a group of modes in Cooking Mama this year.

The first is “Cook With Mama”. This is the main mode of the game. You’ll start with a handful of recipes. As you complete them, you’ll unlock new recipes, one at a time, until you have the full set for this mode. They add up to 65 different recipes with an untold number of different mini-games to play. Some you’ll only see once, while others you’ll see them repeatedly over the course of the mode. You are awarded a medal at the end of each recipe based on your performance. A perfect score gets a gold, a little less than perfect gets a silver and a good effort will give you a bronze. If you manage to ruin it completely, you will get a broken medal and will not unlock a new recipe. You’ll be able to practice any step for any recipe you’ve unlocked before taking it for the score, allowing you to practice the hard parts. There may not be any stories to play, but the structure of this mode is surprisingly fun.

The next mode is “Let’s Cook”. Here you will choose a friend to cook and then a recipe. Unlike “Cook With Mama”, you won’t get any hints, the ability to practice, or even downtime before the next game. This is a complete challenge mode to see if you remember how to make a dish and how well you can do it. Doing it well enough will unlock more friends to cook and other items to customize. I think this mode was in the previous game, and that you needed to cook dishes that appealed to the friend in question, but I didn’t notice any of that here. Anything I cooked, as long as it was done perfectly, would satisfy anyone. If nothing else, it works as a kind of challenge mode.

There is another cooking mode in the game, which would be “Let’s Match”. Here you have a selection of six different ingredients and you can choose two of them to make a dish. You won’t know what you’re doing until you’re done, so a lot of the fun is in experimenting and seeing what comes out of, say, mixing eggs with mushrooms. Once you’ve achieved that, you’ll be able to see what you’ve done and try to improve your score. This is fun until you’ve evened everything out. More ingredients would have made this mode killer, but as it stands, there are more than a dozen combinations.

As the title of the game suggests, there is also a purchase mode this time. “Let’s Shop” puts you on an aerial view and assigns you the task of navigating other customers and store employees to get some items for mom before time runs out. Unfortunately, this mode is a wash. It’s no fun to play and there are only four challenges. You can try to get a high score, just like you can with cooking challenges, but there really isn’t a point this time.

Next is “Cooking Contest”. Here you can complete individual mini-games to get the best time. You can also play with up to three other people in the game’s only multiplayer mode. These are all the games that were featured in the previous modes, so it’s really just a time attack mode. Whether or not you play with friends will determine how much you enjoy it.

“Journaling” is another mode offered by the game. After creating a dish, you can choose to save the picture to your journal. However, instead of having to write something, you will add stickers and bonus the image. I admit this can be a lot more fun than it sounds, and I often save a picture of a particularly tricky dish after getting that elusive gold medal. I also didn’t hesitate to save an absolute mess after my friend managed to burn a cake. If only for the look on the face of the child who was supposed to eat it, it was worth it.

The last two modes are “Let’s Get Fancy” and “Let’s Design”. These allow you to use items you’ve earned throughout the game to customize both mom and the kitchen, respectively. The number of objects starts small, but grows as you play. Also, most kitchen items can only change color, but this gives people a few things to play with when they want a break from the frenetic action of the mini-game.

You can also receive items from a friend’s copy of Gardening Mama to use as ingredients in this game. Or, if you’re smart, you can use another DS to send ingredients from your copy of Gardening Mama to your copy of Cooking Mama 3. It’s a nifty little bonus that they didn’t need to throw, but they did.

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As you can see, there are plenty of things to do in Cooking Mama 3. Aside from the shopping game, the modes are pretty good and useful in their own right. This game certainly does a lot with its concept and I couldn’t believe how much content could be found.


Cooking Mama keeps things simple and clean. Mom and her kitchen are composed of bright colors, rounded shapes, and simple patterns. In short, the game reeks of sanitation, and is very enjoyable to watch.

However, that does not mean that there is no realism. Food is where the game’s graphics shine. Fish have scales, squid have ink, and you can see the texture on various fruits and vegetables. However, it never gets too graphic, so you’ll see chunks of juice dripped from a lemon you’re squeezing, but you won’t get blood when you’re cleaning a fish or preparing a chicken. Still, the various fish in the game are recognizable for what they are, rather than simply using a generic fish, and the finished dishes almost look good enough to eat.

My favorite visual effects were in the details. For example, when you’re beating some eggs, the yolks and egg whites start out separate, but mix slowly over time as they would in real life. The same goes for even when you’re mixing several ingredients. Everything comes together in a very realistic way. The game skips a few intermediate steps when you’re roasting or cooking something, but it still looks good.

The last thing to mention here is the mom herself. She has some animations, as expected. Many of these are seen during mini-games and therefore you’re not likely to notice them because you’re too busy trying to chop that garlic as quickly as possible. Still, he has a lot of personality, and the twinkle in his eyes when you do a good job is a surprisingly rewarding image. The fire in your eyes when you fail is equally effective in motivating you to succeed. The game does a good job here.

However, the graphics of Cooking Mama 3 are certainly not going to attract attention when so many other powerhouses have hit the market this year. For me, this game has nothing about the achievements of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Still, the game looks good.


The music in the game is quite cheerful at all times. It’s the kind of lightweight, upbeat music you’d expect from a game like this. At no point does it stand out as something particularly noticeable, but it is certainly harmless in every respect.

That’s not the case with mom’s voice work. Mom is Japanese, if you didn’t know, and typically, speaks Engrish fluently. That’s not a typo. It’s not so bad when you do it right, but if you make a mistake and get the bronze, she’ll blurt out “Okay. Mom will help you.” Obviously, given how I’m presenting this, you can tell that even if that’s what she’s saying, that’s not what it sounds like. It can be fun, but at the same time it reeks a bit of perpetuating stereotypes that just shouldn’t be in a game marketed to younger children. It doesn’t matter if this choice was made for comic effect. It just doesn’t feel right and is one of the first things everyone notices about the game.

The sound effects in the game are a bit unpredictable. While the sound of something fried or a knife banging on the cutting board is done nicely and quite realistically, some others sound like they’re coming out of a child’s electronic cooking game instead of a DS. The worst offender here is the sound the game makes when you shake something up. It just doesn’t sound right. It also uses the same sound for whatever you’re shaking, creating even more of a strange feeling.

To put it plainly, the sound doesn’t match the rest of the presentation. It’s probably the worst feature of the game, although aside from the vocals, it’s really not that bad. It’s just not very good.



I really like about this game is that it actually uses the functionality of the system it’s on in a way that not enough games do. What I mean is that everything is done with the stylus, and there are even quite a few mini-games that use the microphone as well. These aren’t just monotonous thwaways as seen in most games. There are a wide variety of movements you will use. Also, there’s a lot of time, technique, and skill involved in how well you do in the game.

As for what types of mini-games you’ll see, they run the gamut. You’ll clean fish, break eggs, chop vegetables, wash ingredients, boil noodles, fry some burger, arrange things to fit in a container, grind meat, mix ingredients, pour dough, and just about anything else you can think of when it comes to working with food. Best of all, there are dozens of different games. In fact, there are some games that are exclusive to certain recipes. For example, there is a game where you will spin the pizza dough and throw it into the air. You’ll only use that for pizza. There is another in which a smoker is used by placing wood chips on the fire. That is only used for the smoked trout dish. Sure, there are plenty of vegetable-cutting games to play, but even then every vegetable is different and there’s more than one way you’ll have to cut it.

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For the vast majority of these games, the stylus controls are some of the most accurate in the system. You’ll be surprised how good you are at chopping garlic. However, there are definitely some cases where controls feel irregular. The most notable case for me was when I had to cut off a crab’s legs from its body. The crab guides were the same cutting guides I had seen for any other cutting set, but they just didn’t respond. I ended up having to use a back and forth movement until I read the entry. In fact, there are some cases when it is necessary to make such a move to cut something, but everything indicates that this was not one of them.

Also, not all games are so fun to play. There is a recurring game where you need to grate bread to get breadcrumbs. It’s nothing more than sliding the pencil back and forth as quickly as possible. You can’t screw up, so no precision or time is required to make this minigame. Every time I finished a recipe with this step with a gold medal, I was glad I was done with it. Still, like the controls, this is the exception rather than the rule.

The black sheep of the game is the shopping mode. Here you will have an aerial view of the surroundings and mom will not even be on the screen. You have a timer, a set number of hearts, and a list of what you need to grab. The store changes for each challenge and the number of shoppers increases as you move towards new items. You tap where you want to go and your character will come out without regard to the other buyers. This means that you will have to guide her thoroughly to get out unscathed. Bumping into a buyer results in a time-consuming mini-game. Surprisingly, these are no fun at all. In a game full of fun stylus controls, how come each of them here managed to be boring? If you fail, you will lose a heart and time. If you succeed, you will move on, smoothly. If you run out of hearts, the game is over and your score is determined even without having obtained all the items. Worst of all, your character doesn’t take harm when he loses a heart. It seems that he is getting more and more embarrassed. It kind of adds to that whole racial stereotyping thing I was talking about earlier. This mode is boring, frustrating, and just doesn’t belong in a game like this.

Other than that, however, this is a very solid game. I was amazed not only at how well I controlled, but also how fun it was to play. It is also extremely accessible. I had a friend who had used a DS only once before in her life to try out the game, and she was able to grasp the controls almost immediately. This is a great thing.


With around eighty different recipes to make, as well as plenty of items to unlock and some multiplayer challenges to complete, this game can certainly absorb a lot of your time. More to the point, if you fail to get a gold medal on a recipe, the incentive to try again until you do is surprisingly strong. However, I can’t quantify the number of hours it will take to get a gold at all. For one, I was so engrossed in the game that I didn’t realize how much time I had flown by. In addition, everything will depend on your skill level.

If nothing else, the fun and ease of play lend themselves to making this game extremely easy to learn randomly. I have a good feeling that it will replace one or two suffocating RPGs in my DS game box before moving on to something else. When this game comes across games like Elite Beat Agents and MarioKart DS, you know for sure that you’ll get your money’s worth in the long run.


What I like most about this game is that it is not too difficult to complete any recipe. However, getting that gold medal, or even just a silver one, requires skill and patience. What this means is that anyone can play the game and get a sense of reward when they see their finished dishes, but only those who take the time and effort to master the steps will feel the joy that a perfect score can bring.

From the beginning, I had no trouble finishing the dishes. In fact, I only missed one dish, and that was because I misunderstood how to perform a fairly simple task. (It was taking the lasagna out of the oven if you need to know. I REALLY shot one when it came to that one.)

That said, there are a couple of games that are downright evil. What I’ll talk about is the game where you need to hang an ingredient on a line to dry them or put them in a smoker. For example, the first instance of this game is when you are making dried squid. The game seems simple enough, but you need to pack these squid tighter than sardines, and a small swipe can send them to fall freely. Worse, the movement they make will likely cause others to start shaking. And if that wasn’t enough, their natural urge to try to catch the falling squid will result in a catastrophic disaster that will cause all but one of their squid to fall. It was a while before I got used to this, and everyone I tried the game had the same problem. It was something like an unusually steep curve.

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That’s the only problem with the game right there: it can simply be difficult for you to understand what the minigame is asking of you at first. Luckily, the practice option is there for you to get used to things. If that wasn’t the case, the game would become a lot more frustrating at times than it is.


I will be brief here. This is the same experience as the first two previous games. The only really new mode is the shopping feature, and it’s a complete flop that hopefully won’t waste space on future installments of the franchise.

This is a game that sticks to what works and works by adding new content in the form of recipes and the occasional minigame. If you broke eggs in the first game three years ago, you will also be able to break eggs here.



can’t tell you how many times I would go play this game for a recipe or two and end up playing for over an hour before I realized I was doing it. There were more than a few incidents when I was watching or reading something of great interest to me, like watching the most recent episode of Survivor Samoa (Russel is amazing). Even then, I would pick up my DS without realizing it, so I could try my luck at a crème brulee. After unlocking all the recipes, I would keep playing for long periods to improve my scores.


think the real turning point came when I let a couple of people touch it. Firs was my aforementioned friend who had only used a DS once. In that case, we only played Clubhouse Games because a deck of cards wasn’t useful and another friend let me borrow his DS. I randomly asked him to try this, and he ended up playing for about four hours that day. If she left it, she immediately picked it up to get some recipes. Right after, she would want to play a little more. In another case, I let my little sister try. She played for about three hours straight before exhausting herself too much to stay awake. I found her sleeping on the couch with the DS next to her on the floor.

The game is a lot of fun to play


Appeal factor:

I mentioned before that I’m certainly not within the target audience of this game, but that doesn’t matter. Anyone I asked him to play this had a wonderful time. Sure, there were several who questioned why I, a grown man, was playing something called Cooking Mama, and in fact, I was informed that I had lost a “man’s card” for owning it. (Scrub Reference!) Still, once they tried it, they, too, rejoiced when a well-played recipe went well.

Cooking Mama

has been such a success for developers that they changed its name to Cooking Mama Ltd. It is one of Majesco’s biggest hits and to date the series has sold millions of copies on both DS and Wii. For those wondering if there’s any burnout, the last cooking game for the franchise to come out was two years ago, so enough time has passed for people to recharge.

Fans of the series will certainly dive into all the new recipes. I know I’m seriously considering getting the previous games in the series to make sure I don’t miss a single dish. As for newcomers, if you’re looking for a DS game that takes full advantage of the system’s capabilities, this is the place.

Just make sure tenderness doesn’t convince you otherwise



This game is perfect for the DS. I also don’t say that just because of the pen controls. It’s simply geared towards portable gaming and would only work on Nintendo’s handheld. There aren’t enough games I can say the same about.

The game also includes the ability to send a demo to someone else with a DS. This is a feature I rarely see, and in fact, the last time I remember seeing it personally was with Kirby Super Star Ultra. Not only is it a great idea for the company, as it allows people to spread the word and enjoy the series, but it’s just another way to harness the potential of the system.

There have been

more than a handful of times that I have been pleasantly surprised by a game since I started writing for this site. I’m very happy to say this was one of those times. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that could stop anyone from enjoying this game is their own brain. Push the boundaries of gender roles and enjoy a classic DS experience.


modes: Good graphics: Good

audio: Above average Gameplay: Great replayability: Very good balance: Very good Originality: Pretty poor Addiction: Classic Attractiveness factor: Good Miscellaneous: AmazingFinal score: Good gameplay!


attention span


Cooking Mama 3: Shop and Chop is not only a great use of DS hardware, but also a very good game in its own right. I can easily recommend it to anyone with a DS. If you’re a guy and feel discouraged by the fact that this is a cooking game or that it’s clearly geared towards young girls, you need to get over that feeling. The game is simply too much fun to ignore for those little reasons. If you’ve been a fan of the series for years or have never played it before, this is the safest bet you can find on the DS.

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