Developer: Black Lantern
Release Date: November 25, 2008
The Cooking Mama franchise has proven that gamers love to prepare and cook virtual food. Whether it's hamburgers, egg rolls or calamari, gamers love to slice, dice and fry anything given to them. The success of the Cooking Mama games has spawned several other titles, all competing to be the first choice for virtual cooking fun. The latest offering, Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine for the Wii, tries to change up the formula by adding a competitive element to the core cooking aspect. While it doesn't outright trump the last two Cooking Mama titles, Iron Chef America provides some fun for fans of the genre.
The premise of the game will be very familiar to fans of the television show. Competing against another chef, your job is to create as many great-tasting and unique dishes as possible within the 60-minute time limit. All of the dishes will be made using the secret ingredient for the match. At the end of the 60-minute limit, the dishes are given to a panel of three judges to be graded on several different criteria. The chef with the highest overall score by the end of the match will be declared the winner.
The main Career mode has you going through different chefs in a system reminiscent of a fighting title. You continue defeating opponents until you get to the Iron Chefs, and once you manage to beat them, you win the game. Aside from Career mode, you also have Quick Play, which lets you set up a quick "battle" against an opponent of your choice (human or CPU) and an ingredient of your choice. If you want to prepare just one specific dish, you can do so in School mode.
As far as gameplay is concerned, the core mechanics of Iron Chef America are solid. The types of dishes given for each ingredient are varied and not commonly seen in the other cooking games on the market. The title's pacing also emulates the television show rather well, giving players the feeling of being pressured by the clock the first time they play.
The gameplay isn't perfect, and there are some flaws. For starters, all of the activities you do aren't connected, as you'd expect. Some might argue that the disjointed nature is true to the spirit of the show, since chefs would be preparing several dishes at once. However, as a gamer, it feels strange and repetitive to be cutting up Kobe beef three times in a row for three different dishes. The other fault, though, is pretty hard to overlook. It is extremely easy to beat the main mode, especially since there is only one difficulty level present. After the first match, you realize that you can always finish all of your dishes in the allotted time period, and the only way to lose against the computer is to miserably fail all of the tasks given to you. Since it is impossible to do that, the only way you'll feel challenged is to play against another human being of the same or greater skill level as yourself.
The controls are definitely a high point of Iron Chef America, as they are as solid as can be. All of the controls are handled by the Wiimote and the B button. For the most part, your movements will be registered by holding down the B button and then moving the Wiimote back and forth, side to side, or spinning it around. The title registers movement accurately even during tilting games, something other cooking games can't claim yet. There's really nothing to criticize when it comes to the controls.
The graphics are somewhat adequate but leave much to be desired. Cut scenes look like photos were stitched together to create something that appears to be animated. This design choice makes the game feel like a budget title and makes these segments difficult to watch. As for the cooking itself, a lot of it feels like a high-resolution version of what was done on the Nintendo DS game. All of the food and implements look fine, but when compared to the Cooking Mama series, where all of the food is done in 3-D, the food here looks bland by comparison.
The sound is a big highlight of Iron Chef America. The music is similar to what you'd find on the show, and the background music does a good job of providing a sense of tension when you play. The sound effects are good enough, although it really isn't that hard to emulate kitchen sounds. The voices for most of the characters are fine, but the work done on the main stars is wonderful, especially since all of the personalities from the show lent their voices to this effort. While you won't hear much from the Iron Chefs or the floor announcer (who is absent in this game), you'll be hearing from both the Chairman and Alton Brown a lot. The Chairman, as expected, shouts out every ingredient as well as basic instructions for the mini-game. While this is happening, Alton Brown gives out helpful tips and facts about the match's secret ingredient. All of this is great stuff, though an option to skip Alton's dialogue would have been nice to move the game along and skip all of the tips that's he's already voiced.
Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine for the Wii isn't that bad of a game. As stated before, fans of the series will love the wide and varied selection of dishes they get to make. The sounds are true to the show, and the controls aren't very difficult to use when compared to other cooking games on the market. On the other hand, the disjointed nature of the actual cooking, mediocre graphics and bad cut scenes don't exactly make it a clear candidate for the top cooking game. The easy difficulty level doesn't help make a case for it, either. Iron Chef America proves to be a good alternative for those looking for a more competitive cooking experience. If you're looking for the next thing after finishing Cooking Mama: World Kitchen and Order Up and are willing to overlook some of the flaws pointed out here, then be sure to give this one a try.
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