Cooking Mama is a game series by Majesco on Nintendo's systems in which you are a cook in the titular Mama's kitchen. She teaches you how to prepare a variety of dishes step by step, from preparing the raw meat, chopping vegetables, stirring, baking, frying, you name it. Each step takes the form of a mini-game. Your score for how well you complete each task, with bonus points if you do it before the time runs out. And at the end you see just how lovely your dish came out.
Depending on the system it's on, it makes very good use of the DS's touch screen or Wii Remote controls.
There are several games in this series:
- Cooking Mama (DS) — First game in the series. Allowed players to unlock more recipes by combining dishes already created.
- Cooking Mama: Cook Off (Wii) — First Wii entry. Introduced Mama's friends from around the world, along with a selection of international dishes.
- Cooking Mama 2: Dinner With Friends (DS) — With new recipes came an Iron Chef-style mode where you had to prepare a dish minus instructions and offer it to Mama or one of her friends for tasting.
- Cooking Mama: World Kitchen (Wii) — Now with 3D graphics and more of the tried-and-true content from previous games, including 2-player co-op.
- Gardening Mama (DS) — Cooking Mama WITH POTTING SOIL!
- Cooking Mama 3: Shop & Chop (DS) — More of the same as Dinner with Friends, except with different recipes and a new "shop for food" mode which puts you in the most malevolent grocery store ever.
- Crafting Mama (DS) — Cooking Mama WITH CRAFTING!
- Babysitting Mama (Wii) — Cooking Mama WITH BABIES! The game also came with a stuffed baby toy peripheral.
- Camping Mama: Outdoor Adventures (DS) — Cooking Mama WITH CAMPING!
- Cooking Mama 4: Kitchen Magic (3DS) — Cooking Mama IN 3D!
- Gardening Mama 2: Forest Friends (3DS) — Cooking Mama WITH POTTING SOIL AND CUTE ANIMALS!
- Cooking Mama 5: Bon Appétit! (3DS) — Cooking Mama IN 3D AGAIN!
- Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop (3DS) — Cooking Mama FOCUSED ON DESSERTS!
- Cooking Mama: Let's Cook (mobile) — Cooking Mama ON MOBILE!
- Cooking Mama: Cookstar (Switch) — Cooking Mama WITH A VEGETARIAN OPTION!
Apart from all that, it appears that Taiwanese arcade games maker Universal Space has obtained the rights to create a Cooking Mama arcade game to market only in the southeastern region of Asia. There is also Cooking Mama: Friends' Café on Facebook, good for pestering your friends and Bribing Your Way to Victory. There are also the app games "Cooking Mama Let's Cook" and "Cooking Mama: Let's Cook Puzzle".
This game provides examples of:
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Given the art style, she doesn't look old enough to have two children, especially not possibly preteens* .
- Artistic License: This'll teach you how to cook the same way Guitar Hero or Rock Band will teach you how to play guitar — which is to say it won't. At all. Despite this, one person has tried to cook using the recipes and apparently it is technically possible to cook edible food using the game as a basis. Averted somewhat in "Cooking Mama: Let's Cook", as in the Mama's Theatre section, does contain actual videos of recipes being cooked, provided by the Macaroni YouTube channel.
- Big Eater: This is Papa's (Mama's husband) main characteristic.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Cook Off; more gold medals = more fancy cookware to display in your kitchen.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first game is, thus far, the only title which allows you to choose to alter the dish when you're partway into making it. They're listed in the menu separately once you have opted to make the switch at least once. The timer is also much less forgiving in the first game compared to all its sequels.
- Feelies: Babysitting Mama includes a baby plush doll that you stick your Wii Remote inside to act as a peripheral.
- Fireball Eyeballs: Mama gets these whenever you make a mistake."Don't worry! Mama will fix it!"
- Food Porn: What did you expect from a cooking title?
- Game Gourmet: This series is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The wiki has each game's recipe list all on one page.
- Gratuitous English: This is the only language Mama speaks in the North American version:Mama: WONDAFUHL! EVEN BETTA ZAN MAMA!
- Holiday Mode: Cooking Mama 3 features Christmas mode during December.
- House Wife: Also falls under the Feminine Women Can Cook umbrella. Parodied in VG Cats, where Mama tries to convince a Nintendo executive to let her diversify her work experience. It doesn't go well.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The various chefs that appear in later iterations of the series.
- Mini-Game: Every cooking step is a minigame.
- The Moral Substitute: P.E.T.A. has on their website a game called Cooking Mama: Mama Kills Animals, which shows a very angry and violent Mama preparing a Thanksgiving feast in the most gory cartoon fashion possible. In the end, she performs a "face turn" and turns to making a tofu turkey feast instead. Subsequently, Majesco issued a Take That! and exploited the frenetic attention that PETA was gaining with such gore both in a single message.
- No Cartoon Fish: Averted, since most of the ingredients are depicted very realistically compared to Mama herself.
- No-Damage Run: Required. Make one mistake in any step and you lose the chance to receive a gold medal for the dish. It appears that World Kitchen has done away with this.
- The Noseless: Characters don't have visible noses.
- Oddball in the Series: Camping Mama, which in addition to portraying Mama at a somewhat un-Mama-like task, is more of an adventure game with an overworld to explore.
- Parental Bonus: In World Kitchen, you can point and click on Mama in the main menu. She reacts depending on where you click on her (face = sneeze; legs = bow; chest = spinning around with stars in her eyes).
- Pointless Band-Aid: She puts Band-Aids over the food and it supposedly heals it.
- Strawberry Shorthand: Mama's daughter Ichigo has a strawberry motif.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Mama herself. In-series, although she's a housewife, she also loves camping and other surprisingly rough-and-tumble activities. And on a meta level, she's also issued some hilariously snarky press releases, both on the subject of her series coming under fire from PETA and some of the ripoffs of her series flying around.
- Sugar Bowl: Appropriately enough.
- Supreme Chef: The goal is of course to be "Better than Mama!"
- Take That!: When a decidedly Follow the Leader-ish game called Science Papa appeared for the Nintendo DS, Majesco issued a press release from "Mama" saying that she and Mr. Science Papa used to date, but putting up with him just wasn't worth it.
- Took a Level in Kindness: In the original game, Mama gets furious whenever you fail a step. Later games that added a voice to her still gave her the Fireball Eyeballs, but had her cheerfully tell you moments later that "you can do it", and in the 3DS games when you botch up a step, she instead just makes a sad-looking expression while also encouraging you to try again, and only if you completely fail a recipe does she become angry.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential: Babysitting Mama lets you babysit a baby. You can shake the baby and essentially make their lives miserable, at the price of it crying.
- Widget Series: Boy, is it ever!
- Wingding Eyes: The characters' eyes are quite expressive.