Game Name: Crafting Mama
Platform(s): Nintendo DS
Developer(s): Cooking Mama Limited
Genre(s): Simulatation, Mini-game
Release Date: October 26, 2010 (US), November 11, 2010 (AU) November 12, 2010 (EU)
Price: $29.99 (US)
After spending time in the kitchen and the garden, Mama is back in a brand new title which lets player’s craft different items with Mama in the classic mini-game setup. While some may put this off as a more casual title, I was quite surprised to find out there is more that meets the eye with this one and I will go over all of these elements in a moment. Here is my review for Crafting Mama.
Let’s face it, the Mama franchise has never been known for it’s story. This one is no different as the main plot of the game is to create various objects from scratch in short mini-games with Mama as your guide and judge. Mama hasn’t changed at all character wise, with the same trademark dialogue and appearance since the original Cooking Mama still in tact. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t fit with the game, as Crafting is right up Mama’s Alley as everything fits perfectly into place and the title does not lose a bit of it’s charm since from the last incarnation.
There are many different elements of gameplay in Crafting Mama. While it is made of of MANY types of mini-games, each one plays differently from the other and I was surprised just how much content was in the game. Getting started in the game you select the “Let’s Craft” mode to bring up different items you must help Mama create. From pinwheels, candles, origami, and many other items, there is a lot to create in this mode.
When you pick an item out to craft, you will be taken into a screen to select the first mini-game in your path to completion of the project. For instance, if your making a candle, the first will be to crush up a set number of rolling candles in a certain amount of time, then you must pick a color, melt the wax, and shape and add the wick so attention to detail is very present withing the game. Now mini-games like this may sound simple, and believe me, a lot of the mini-games just consist of doing simple things such as tapping on the screen, but over the course of the game these tasks can actually provide a bit of challenge as the game throws in mini-games that require fast thinking and precise stylus movement to complete the said game. Overall I found most of these to be fun and the game actually teaches you how to make these items pretty well so the whole family can take something from the overall experience.
That brings me to the controls. The whole game is controlled via the touch screen and as I mentioned, almost all of the mini-games take full advantage of this. I didn’t notice any problems with accuracy, but there is from time to time objectives in certain games that don’t make a lot of sense with the chore at hand. What I mean by this is that some games just make too much out of a simple task like cutting images out of paper where the slightest movement makes you completely restart the cut, and with a timer to back up this task as well, this becomes a bit more tedious than fun. I imagine since the main audience for the title are younger, this would be one that might make them lose interest in the mini-game and switch to one of the more fun projects in the game.
When you complete a task, Mama will judge you on your performance and award you a gold, silver, or bronze button depending on well the task was completed based on time and presentation. You can always go back and aim for a better score as well so if you completely screw up, no score is set in stone. With a practice option also available, you can easily master the mini-game in question before getting officially judged which is great for perfectionists out there.
Replay value should not be a problem whatsoever. As you complete crafts, you not only unlock paintings for your gallery, you unlock new ways to play with even more projects to complete and mini-games that let you take your creation and try them out for yourself. The best example for this is the ocarina you build from scratch. I thought just creating this item was enjoyable to start with, but the mini-game where you get to use it is one of the best in the whole game as you use rhythm-action cues to play a melody with your freshly made creation. Every craft has a “Play” feature like this, and while not all are interesting, most demand to be tried out and I spent hours just going through all the various options in this mode. Some crafts even have different variants you can you create with different colors, shapes and sizes. There is even a mystery mode which let’s players make an item they know nothing about going in and discover what exactly they are building as the mini-games play out. The game really can last as long as it can hold your attention, and with some addictive mini-games, going back shouldn’t be too hard for any gamer.
Everything in Crafting Mama is bright and colorful from the menus to the crafts themselves. Mama looks exactly the same, angry flaming eyes and all and each craft looks like the real-life counterpart. Even little details are easy to spot and a lot of the visual charm applied should easily capture the core audience’s attention throughout the whole experience of playing.
The music in the game in nothing too memorable when it comes to the melodies played while creating, but fits with the overall feel of the game. Mama sounds a bit like a Japanese woman who just learned how to speak English but if you have played the series you should be used to that by now. The sound effects are on key with every action as well, from slicing, playing tunes from handmade instruments and sawing through woodwork. Overall, the sound blends in to the charm filled world perfectly and keeps the mini-games upbeat and entertaining.
While Crafting Mama may have been created for kids, this game has one huge thing that a lot of educational and casual games on the market do not, and that is a pleasant experience that can easily be picked up by someone of any age. Not only are the projects within the game interesting with fun mini-games, I actually started getting nostalgic of the homemade crafts I used to make in class when I was younger, and for a game to be able to achieve this feeling says quite a lot about the title itself. While some of the mini-games are overly simple and even tedious at times, Crafting Mama is packed full to provide something for every kind of gamer out there and is easily worth the price-tag as it is captures it’s whole premise and does everything advertised and so much more.
I Give Crafting Mama: