Pick up your spatula once more in Cooking Academy 3: Recipe for Success

Picking up where Cooking Academy 2: World Cuisine left off, Cooking Academy 3: Recipe for Success sees our hero returning to their roots at the Cooking Academy after having won 1 million dollars in the Annual World Culinary Workshop. Your new goal is to create a cookbook filled with the best recipes the world has to offer, and you’ll need the help of the academy’s many skilled chefs to do just that. It’s just unfortunate that the gameplay hasn’t picked up much originality along the way.

If you’re a fan of the previous Cooking Academy games, or simply a fan of Cooking Mama on Nintendo Wii or DS, you’ll immediately be familiar with the gameplay here. Each wing of the academy specializes in a specific kind of food, starting with desserts. You’ll complete recipes in a step-by-step fashion, preparing each ingredient and adding the finishing touches to dishes through a variety of cooking tasks, some more complex and difficult than others.

 Recipe for Success

You’ll peel potatoes and other vegetables with a vegetable peeler (thankfully, any direction of slicing counts, rather than just straight lines), crack eggs on the side of bowls, slice pickles on a mandolin, cover caramel apples in crushed peanuts, create dough in a stand mixer, and on and on, with each task being graded based on how well it was performed and how much time was left on the clock when you finished.

Even though steps are timed, there tends to be quite a bit of in-game help in the form of arrows that can be traced with your mouse (say, to chop nuts or scrape vanilla beans) or outlines of utensils that can be followed to stir soups or simple syrups at just the right speed. Regardless, the game is incredibly forgiving in terms of accuracy, allowing you to simply be in the same ballpark as perfection and not lose any points. You’ll earn from one to five stars at the end of each dish, but can easily replay each and every step of a recipe as soon as you’ve completed them if you happen to make a mistake. That is, you won’t need to replay the entire dish to earn a better score, removing all possibility of failure unless you’re simply careless.

In addition to the more realistic cooking tasks, mini-games return here, like ones that have you catching items as they fall from the top of the screen while avoiding the wrong ingredients, or instances where you’ll need to match ingredient patterns presented by the game, a la Simon Says. You’ll even need to rearrange items in the fridge at times so that recipes (like fudge) can cool. This particular game is arguably the most difficult in the entire title, as there may only be one way to organize the items to make everything fit. The timer is removed in most of these difficult mini-games, so there’s no way to fail.

 Recipe for Success

Even though there are dozens of recipes to complete throughout the entire process, you’ll unfortunately be stuck in a single variety of dishes until you’ve finished them all and have unlocked the next wing in the college. This allows the game to venture into the world of repetition and boredom towards the end of each set of dishes, as cooking tasks repeat far too frequently. It would have been great to be able to travel freely throughout the college with all dishes unlocked from the beginning, but unfortunately that simply isn’t the case.

Back from previous installments are interesting facts about dishes or ingredients, offering plenty of educational content for foodies or aspiring chefs, and the game’s graphics perform decently well, with only the lifeless models of your professors standing out as a real negative.

Still, no amount of polish can make up for what Cooking Academy 3 lacks: unique gameplay in a genre that is becoming increasingly crowded. If you’re a fan of the previous games in the series, or simply like basic cooking simulations, there’s plenty of content here to give you a few hours of playtime, but the lack of real challenge and extra gameplay features don’t help this latest game in the series stand out in any meaningful way.