Head into the virtual kitchen with Cooking Mama on Facebook

I'm about to have a bit of a fan girl fit here (forgive me), but one of my favorite Nintendo DS game series is now available to play on Facebook. Arkadium, Majesco, and Cooking Mama Ltd have all partnered to bring Cooking Mama to Facebook as an in-depth experience, rather than just a standard mini-game title.

Sure, there are plenty of mini-games here to participate in, but the game is more complex than your standard handheld game. You won't just be completing mini-games by cooking dishes for the sake of cooking dishes, as you'll have customers that will order certain food dishes, and you'll need to take care of their needs and desires.

Meet us behind the break for a look at how you can fulfill your customers' orders, and how this online version of the game differs from those you've seen on other platforms.
For the overall scheme of gameplay, you'll need to use ingredients to cook dishes. Cooking dishes is a mini-game situation, where you'll find yourself spreading butter onto toast (click on the button and click and drag to spread it on the bread), chopping cheese or vegetables (click on the dotted line), and more. You'll be scored at the end of each step, with some recipes requiring a number of steps to be completed, based on their complexity.

As our example with the Buttered Toast, this would only require one step, as the toast has already been cooked and all you have to do is spread the butter. For something like a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, however, you'll first need to chop slices off of a block of cheese, and then physically grill the sandwich by moving your mouse back and forth to move the sandwich around the frying pan, and then flipping the sandwich over (so it doesn't burn) by flicking your mouse upwards.

After each step, you'll be scored on your accuracy (whether or not you burned the sandwich, to continue with our above example), and you'll earn experience points at the end of the dish, based on your scores. Once you've cooked a dish through these mini-games, you'll be able to serve them in your make-shift restaurant. In this comes the timed element to the game. You'll be able to choose how long you'd like to serve a dish, based on how long you'd like to be away from the game. Since we're talking about food, there is a "real-world" element in terms of spoilage, which makes the longer time frames worth less money (in the grand scheme of things), as the food would be of a lesser quality by the time the serving time frame ended. That is, you'll earn more coins overall if you come back every half hour, rather than waiting a few hours, but of course, this isn't realistic for the working individual.

As you level up, you'll be able to add more and more dishes to your menu, to be served at once, resulting in more profits and experience points when you return after your shift is over. These profits can be used either to purchase more ingredients, allowing you to cook more dishes, or to purchase decorative items like more cabinets, bread baskets, hanging pans, etc. to your kitchen, which is viewed at the top of the screen.

There are also quests to complete in the game, like serving a particular dish for a specific amount of time, or even adding decorations to your kitchen. Completing quests earns you coins and experience points, with these coins being used to purchase the ingredients necessary to cook more dishes.

As if all of this didn't give you enough to work on, as you level up, you'll unlock new dishes, and you can then upgrade those dishes by cooking them subsequent times (using more ingredients to do so). Not only will you earn points overall for cooking dishes, but each dish itself has an experience point bar. Simply cook the dish repeatedly to fill the bar, and the dish will level up.

Unfortunately, you won't be able to cook dishes indefinitely, as there is an Energy bar that uses up energy when you cook. For the first few levels, this isn't really an issue, as you'll level up quick enough to refill your energy bar during one sitting. However, in later levels, it might impact your progress while you wait for the bar to refill.

Technically, this is one of the cutest, most polished games we've seen, taking its graphical theme straight from the Nintendo DS game that started it all - meaning that you'll see more bright or pastel colors and shiny stars and glitter animations in the game than you can shake a stick at. Not the most masculine of themes, to be fair, but the gameplay is a solid transition, from what we can tell from our hands-on time with the game.

If you've liked the Cooking Mama games released on the Nintendo DS or Wii in the past, and want to continue the cooking fun on Facebook, the game is now open to play for everyone.

Play Cooking Mama on Facebook --> Have you played Cooking Mama on other platforms? What do you think of its transition to Facebook? Let us know in the comments.
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