It should be obvious to anyone who stumbles upon this blog that I love gaming. Likely not as obvious is my similar love of cooking.
Anyway, once in a great while those two interests collide in a cooking-themed video game. I've played a number of such games over the years, with the following being my favorites:
1. BurgerTime (Arcade, 1982)--As far as I can tell, this is the original cooking-themed video game. To say it's still one of the best wouldn't be an understatement, in my opinion. OK, so the cooking here involves assembling giant hamburgers by running over each ingredient--bottom bun, burger, lettuce and top bun--in order while avoiding crazed eggs, hot dogs and other food items, but that's still cooking in my book, so I'm including it on this list.
2. Panic Restaurant (NES, 1992)--I'd like to give a good pat on the back to the person who came up with the idea for this game--which focuses on a Chef Boyardee-esque protagonist who races through a cursed restaurant in pursuit of his chief rival--and another to the publishing exec who gave it the green light, as it is, sadly, one of the very few cooking-themed platformers to hit store shelves over the years. Thankfully, it's a delicious, if a tad difficult (and expensive), gem of a game.
3. Cooking Fighter Hao (PlayStation, 1998)--Nippon Ichi may be best known for its tactical RPGs (like Disgaea and Phantom Brave), but one of its very first releases seemingly took its cues from that campy Food Network mainstay, Iron Chef. Unfortunately, this sometimes-annoying, button-mashing arena battler--which, admittedly, features some nice spritework--fails to evoke any of the fun that's a hallmark of its boob-tube-based inspiration.
4. Ore No Ryouri (PlayStation, 1999)--The folks who made Cooking Mama and its ilk--which includes the following entry on this list--owe a lot to those who made Ore No Ryouri. The protagonist in each of these games is a wet-behind-the-ears chef who has to work his (or her) way up the proverbial ladder of the restaurant world, after all. In Ore No Ryouri, that means chopping a lot of onions, frying a lot of meat and pouring a lot of beer--all while utilizing the pair of analog sticks on the original DualShock controller, of course.
5. Order Up! (Wii, 2008)--Take Ore No Ryouri, replace the Japanese setting with an American one, change the art style so the characters look like Weeble Wobbles (in a good way--honestly!) and alter the controls so it works with the Wii Remote and, basically, you have this charming, Supervillain Studios-developed title. Read this review (part of "The Great Gaymathon" series) for more information on this criminally overlooked release.
See also: Previous 'five favorites' posts