Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Five favorites: cooking-themed games

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


Viewtiful_Justin said...

That third one looks like a hilarious and frustrating game! And, thanks to the cover of Burger Time, now all I can think about is getting a fat burger with everything...hopefully no one has walked across all the elements of mine...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Sadly, Cooking Fighter Hao isn't hilarious :( It *could* have been, but the developers really missed the boat. The graphics are the main draw for the game, IMO, but even they can't quite overcome the annoying tediousness of the gameplay :( (Can you tell I *want* to like this game?)

Oh, and as for your comment about BurgerTime: Ha ha! I certainly hope your next burger *hasn't* been walked over :)

RetroKingSimon said...

Haha, nice one sir! :) I've only heard of the first one but it's a classic. I used to like Out To Lunch (SNES) and Fast Food (Spectrum) too :)

RetroKingSimon said...

Oh yeah, and I want to play Cooking Mama (but I don't have a Wii) :P

Bryan Ochalla said...

Hey there, Simon! Thank you :) This was a fun post to write.

Sadly, I've never even heard of Out to Lunch or Fast Food. Off to Google!!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, and I would highly recommend checking out Order Up! rather than Cooking Mama. Order Up! is far more enjoyable, IMO.

Or, if you absolutely have to try Cooking Mama, do that and then try Order Up! too.

Of course, it sounds like you have to get a Wii first :)

Marcus said...

Bryan I love this post! I can't cook very well (attempting to fix that) but cooking-related games are still a ton of fun.

Speaking of BurgerTime, last year I really made a fool of myself. I was at Classic Gaming Expo and failed spectacularly playing BurgerTime in front of the Blue Sky Rangers D: . I'll never be able to live it down haha.

Bryan Ochalla said...

Thanks, Marcus!

I'm embarrassed to admit I had to Google Blue Sky Rangers. Now that I know who they are, I'll bet they understood. BurgerTime is TOUGH -- at least it is for me.

Marcus said...

Haha, it's okay! I also wasn't really knowledgeable about Intellivision anything UNTIL that expo.

BurgerTime is definitely a beast. Now this talk is making me hungry for a classic gaming day (Tapper, Robotron 2084, Joust, etc). If only I didn't have other work to attend to...!