Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Developer: Office Create
The fifth game in the ‘Cooking Mama’ series, ‘Sweet Shop’ puts you in the flour smudged apron of Mama, an outgoing baker with a penchant for getting creative with her desserts and treats. Along with a customizable sweet shop, the game boasts 60 new recipes and 160 mini-games with which to make them. Now with the Nintendo 3DS street pass, you can put your shop on display for others to visit and admire your confectionary delights.
Keeping the spirit of the game series in mind, there still haven’t been many improvements from its predecessors. The basic mechanics are still intact, but other than its tried and true formula, there’s not much else by which to be impressed. Despite the fact that the ‘Cooking Mama’ games have been enjoyed by gamers of all ages (as well they should), ‘Sweet Shop’ in particular seems to cater to a much younger circle of player, not leaving much else for those that have played the previous incarnations.
The mini-games are fun but become tedious if you’re used to something more challenging.
One of the biggest selling points of this title has to be the customization. ‘Sweet Shop’ puts you through a series of quick, easy to understand mini-games involving the preparation of different dessert recipes, the last of which is usually decorating the custom confection with as many fruits, candies, and adornments as are made available to you.
Knowing where CM has been making the mini-games especially tedious. There haven’t really been any leaps and/or bounds in the puzzle aspect of the game, but it’s never dull or unimaginative. There’s no progression climb or increasingly intricate games that are unlocked as you complete more recipes. It’s mostly just the same stylus-based frosting, rolling, and sifting that repeat in different ways. This is primarily what makes it pretty perfect for a new gamer as opposed to someone expecting a challenge. The repetition is more akin to teaching someone a skill, rather than honing it. The different tasks require the player to follow a specific series of instructions, which reward a sense of accomplishment for a younger, less experienced gamer.
Customization plays a big role and carries most of the game’s novelty.
As you progress, you accumulate different desserts that can be put on display in your shop. Allowing patrons in to purchase your baked goods is how you gather currency to spend on making your sweet shop as lavish or modest as your heart desires. The options, however, aren’t really that numerous; mostly a series of table cloths, wallpaper, etc. You even have the option of picking out different color outfits for Mama herself, but that’s about it. While some might find this to be a lack of imagination when it comes to customizing, you’re actually looking at just enough to allow a child to feel in control of their choices, but not so much that they feel overwhelmed by options. Tricking out your shop is definitely limited, but there’s still fun to be had and it never feels incomplete. In general, it feels perfect for the level of early age gamers that were in mind.
It’s pretty easy to realize that ‘Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop’ is intended for a much younger demographic. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, a seasoned gamer will find themselves bored and uninterested after about five minutes. ‘Sweet Shop’ is, however, perfect as a learning tool. Not necessarily for general academia, but rather the basic mechanics of games that involve puzzles or customization, especially with the Nintendo 3DS. Children should have a lot of fun decorating desserts, putting them on display, and showing them off to an online community. It’s an encouraging experience and provides positive material to keep your youngster engaged throughout. If any parent is uneasy or completely unaware of the games they might be buying for their kids, ‘Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop’ is a safe alternative that will allow them to feel creative and entertained.