Greetings future chefs of the world; put down your "Cooking Mama" and enter a world where only serious wanna be chefs need apply. You think you have the stuff? You think you have what it takes to face painstaking detail in your cooking gaming? If you answered yes, then definitely give Namco/Bandai's "Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked" game for the Wii, hosted by Mory Thomas and Susie Fogleson who lend their likeness and voice, for that added charm.
Cook or Be Cooked isn't just a simple cooking game - you're cooking real dishes using real technique. That's right, it's now about just prepping dishes, you have to have precision such as cutting veggies appropriately, adding just the right seasoning, and cooking the meal in real time; if a dish says it takes 30 minutes to prepare, then it actually takes 30 minutes. But don't worry because with the Z button on the Wii-chuck, you can speed up time. But be careful, if you already have food on the burner or waiting for it to cool, it can either burn or get cold. Just above the timer an alarm will go off which means that particular step requires attention. And through it all Susie and Mory will guide you and alert you when you do something wrong or praise you when you nail it!
Gameplay is quite simple and all you really have to do is follow the prompts, which will alert you when to perform an action and will show you just how to move the Wii-mote. Once the food is prepped Mory and Susie will taste your virtual cuisine and grade you accordingly, if it's fair but needs work you get a Bronze star, if it's good you get a silver, and if it's damn good you'll get gold. You'll start by simply boiling water working your way towards more complicated dishes like salmon and steak. Overall you can prepare 30 plus dishes, with each new dish unlocking when you complete the current dish. Oh and once you've completed a dish, but you want a higher score, you can go back and replay that area over. Finally you have three styles of play. First is solo, fairly easy to understand it's just you and the game. Then there's "Hot Potato", which is you and another player but you share one wii-mote. The object is simple. When the game prompts you, you must past the controls to another player. Finally there's multi-player which requires two Wii-motes.
The graphics are pretty simple, but the food presentation is where it's at because the fool looks really good, especially when it's finished. And with audio every chop, slice, grind, grating, peeling, crushing and shaking can be heard, adding to the realism of the game. Put em all together and what do you get?
First off, the game is easy to get into thanks to on-screen prompts that guide you along the way. And the first few recipes really get you going with ease. Even when things get really complicated, once you know the controls, you'll have no problem. The Voices of Mory and Susie add to the overall presentation of the game, though there's no "real" humor in their commentary, they still make good guides. Finally I will praise the graphics, not the overall appearance but the food itself, which I stated above, looks good and will have your stomach growling. Finally, though outwardly it may not seem that way, but the game does require strategy because you wanna time everything just right so that when all is said and done everything is served up proper. And when you're cooking rice, this is where it will test your skill because if you cook the rice before everything else, then eif you have hot food on the side it will get cold or vice versa. Cook or Be Cooked is a simple game and works well for what it's supposed to be.
I find the game is too judgmental in some areas such as when seasoning. Ok here is a game that's not just about cooking, but also technique. However when adding seasonings such as salt and pepper, I feel one shouldn't be graded in this area. You can add salt, flour, sugar and such with no problem, so why grade when adding salt and pepper? And what I mean is you have to shake the Wii-mote just right or else you either add too much or too little. Second the Wii-mote controls in this game are sometimes too sensitive, ESPECIALLY when we're adding salt and pepper. The prompt as you to turn the Wii-mote upside down and shake, but as you turn it, you automatically shake out some seasoning. You later find out you don't have to turn it upside down at all! You can just shake the damn thing and you'll get it just right. But the scoring in general could use an overhaul. Why score on chopping speed, pushing buttons? The game is just too damn particular and really most actions you perform should not be scored.
Overall I enjoyed Food Network's Cook or Be Cooked and I think must adults will get a kick out of this game as I don't see the younger set itching for this item since it doesn't have guns, swords, and chaos all over the place. It's a fun, easy to play, and even with its quirky scoring system I'd still recommend this title, especially those who enjoy cooking. Out of TOV 5 stars, I give Cooked or be Cooked 3.5 stars and it's been Valkor tested and TOV approved.