Come To Mama: Beyond Just Cooking
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It’s official: the next Cooking Mama is introducing a Vegetarian Mode, a long-requested feature for the surprisingly popular franchise. And there’s… something about blockchain that may or may not result in anything? Mama’s catching up with the times, and it presents an interesting opportunity: for the series to finally build a distinct voice and amusing narrative around the food prep minigames. It could make them both more fun to play and, well, way easier to market. 

Mama’s no stranger to hobbies, certainly. She’s had two full games worth of gardening, as she grew crops for use in meals. She’s made some simple crafts. She’s spent time taking care of an occasionally very cool baby, and she even went camping once. Generally, though? The main series entries have just featured a lot of cooking, and some fairly generic cooking at that. She’s made some more varied recipes and cooked with friends, but the games have never really made any themes out of them that made the game feel different or incorporated her other hobbies into the more popular core releases.

 

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But the flashes of other interest and occasional dabbling into trends could go further. After all, moms get into new things all the time! What if Mama got into keto for a bit? Or tried her hand at small-batch brewing? No reason to stop at food, too: Mama can open an Etsy shop or commit herself to a year of pilates. And these can be part of the cooking games, as a busy modern mom juggling tasks or just switching gears for a bit between meals.

This sort of “just trying stuff for a bit” is an inherently relatable concept, as we all have new year’s resolutions or spurts of self-improvement effort. Doesn’t it feel like Mama could do the same? So many casual game characters are static figures, but there’s this opportunity here to make consistency out of inconsistency. And as we’ve seen from the reaction to a vegetarian Mama, embracing trends could help the series break through with marketing in a way that it really hasn’t ever managed. People will take note if the new game has Mama sign up for taekwondo classes or start a popular Instagram account to share food pictures.

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It’d also make for a better game! Building the minigames around new concepts each time would mean playing more than one Cooking Mama game is way less redundant. The games were way more at home on consoles like the DS and Wii, where motion or stylus controls made more sense. It’s time for a reinvention, anyway! So giving Mama some hobbies could make some games that otherwise are less immersive to control still notable and cool.

It’s not really a worry that these things would “ruin” the game, anyway. Cooking Mama has never been a critically acclaimed franchise, and reception has slowly but steadily gotten worse over the past decade. It’s not about objective quality: the fun of Cooking Mama is in being amused by its concept. So lean into it by making the concept more whimsical! After all, the series doesn’t have a heck of a lot to lose by trying.

Graham Russell
Graham Russell
@colorninja

Contributing Writer
Date: 08/23/2019

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