Yum Yum Cookstar has arrived on Xbox, and with no ‘Cooking Mama’ here to compete with, can Cookstar take the culinary crown.
Yum Yum Cookstar is a game about cooking all sorts of magical dishes, to be judged by a panel of three judges who will award you out of 10 for your tasty creations.
You start with only Rainbow Waffles to make, and you’re quickly introduced to the gameplay which is best described as a mixture of rhythm-action mini games.
Split between a handful of sections, such as collecting ingredients, stirring and then colouring the batter before finally making your Rainbow Waffles. Your performance across these areas will define your overall score, and you’ll soon be heading to the kitchen to improve your techniques.
After learning level 2 skills, such as applying topping and using the oven and kitchen scales, you’ll unlock a selection of new recipes including the tasty sounding Yum Yum Sundae and Unicorn Poop Cookies.
With each dish, you’ll have a choice of 4 difficulty levels, Relaxed which is really especially suitable for youngsters with no time limit and entry margin for error, Casual adds a timer but keeps the difficulty low, and Pro removed the pre-game hints and gives a few more complex patterns, which means you’re a little moe reliant on memory and quick reactions. The final difficulty, Cookstar, is described as “Play it Perfectly” and to rack up gold trophies on here, you’ll need to master each dish and know exactly what to do and when to have any chance of success, as even the button prompts are delayed, meaning a gold medal will only be awarded for complete perfection.
It’s a really pleasing spread of difficulty, which gives enough freedom for younger gamers to enjoy, while still providing a real challenge for the most experienced chefs.
Back to the recipes, and once you’ve completed each of the 4, level 2 recipes at least once, you’ll unlock further techniques.
this loop continues with another 4 recipes once you’ve proven your techniques, gradually adding more and more recipes with each group separated by another 6 technique challenges.
These new techniques are all introduced in increasingly complex recipes, and what starts off as just a handful of mini-games, will eventually be a collection of 10-12 per dish.
After 25 recipes,you’ll be into level 6 techniques, as well as another 10 recipes, you’ll also unlock daily mode, which gives you 3 dishes to make on a present (quite tough) difficulty. There’s also a invitational tournament mode that you’ll unlock later on.
The whole gameplay loop does verge on getting a little repetitive as some mini-games are very similar to others, but overall Cookstar manages to keep the produce fresh with the ever-expanding list of ingredients and dishes.
The presentation is all very impressive, with some great voice acting and one-liners from the 3 judges who each have their own unique personality, adding to the audible treat is a high-quality soundtrack by Nile Rogers, which is best described as funky ‘pop’.
For any rhythm action game, the sound is always important and I found myself bopping along to the background music on plenty of occasions, which all helps when trying to time the beats of your stick pushes and button presses.
Graphically there are a few shortcomings, with a few limited animations and some odd effects, especially when food is tipped from the measuring bowl to the mixing bowl, but many wouldn’t notice and fewer would care, so this really is nitpicking.
Otherwise Yum Yum Cookstar is a bright, fun and friendly game, which is certain to capture the eyes and imagination of younger gamers.
In total there are over 70 recipes to work through, and even just sticking to one of the easier difficulty levels, you’re likely to take well over a dozen hours, just to work through all the recipes and techniques and with plenty of enjoyment from hitting those perfect 10’s, I’m sure many will return to past dishes to improve their score or master the higher difficulties.
There’s plenty more to do though, as you want your kitchen to look the best when creating your delicious masterpieces, initially, the only customisation option is the welcome addition of allowing the user to change the skin tone of their arm, but after a few recipes, you’ll start to unlock options for your kitchen, maybe a new chopping board, a knife?
As you progress, unlocking new techniques also unlocks their associated equipment, so it wont be long before you’re using a frying pan or blender, and of course, you’ll get the option to customise the colours of these the more you play and unlock.
Ultimately like the achievements, the bulk of the equipment customisations are locked behind tournament mode, so while you’ll have to put some serious hours in the kitchen to get there, there’s plenty of reward for doing so.
It’s fair to say Yum Yum Cookstar caught me off guard, at first glance, I was expecting a cheesy Cooking Mama clone aimed solely at young children, and while many recipes sprinkled with unicorns and rainbows reinforce that, underneath the sparkly exterior there’s a really intriguing game, that’s fun to play for all ages.
Unlike many family games, it’s equally fun to watch, I had my two youngest (7 and 11) both sat glued to the screen as I whipped up French Toast Layer Cake, and the youngest is equally happy creating some Unicorn cupcake cones while I type this.
I can’t say it’ll last forever, after 5-6 hours the repeated voice lines and familiar mini-games did start to grate a little, but not many will sit and play it constantly as I have, and a quick blast here and there, it’s a pleasing game that the kids especially will keep coming back to time and time again.
There’s no denying that Yum Yum Cookstar isn’t going to appeal to a wide audience, some will feel the £34.99 asking price is a little high, and others will be put off by the cutesy graphics mixed with a few too many rainbows and unicorns, but if you’re after a fun, family cooking game, then you’re in for a treat.
Yum Yum cookstar