Even the greatest chefs have to start somewhere, and that’s what Cooking Academy is all about. An upcoming game from Fugazo – the makers of Fashion Fits – the game takes place in the prestigious Culinary Academy, where you’ve enrolled as a freshman to learn how to prepare delicious meals.
Under the guidance of the Academy’s headmistress, Phyliss Brie, and other instructors, you’ll practice creating dishes spanning five categories: appetizers, breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. After you’ve mastered each dish by earning a grade of at least a “C” from your instructor, you’ll go on to take exams that will unlock the next phase of training.
The controls and general layout of the game are very similar to the Cooking Mama series for the Nintendo Wii and DS video game consoles, except that instead of the motion-sensitive Wii remote or the Nintendo DS stylus, you use the mouse to execute different actions.
And what a versatile little tool the mouse turns out to be. Using a combination of dragging and clicking, you’ll find yourself slicing, dicing, mashing, grating, peeling, pouring, squirting and whatever else it takes to bring your culinary creations to life.
One of the first dishes I tried to make was Gyoza, which are Chinese dumplings filled with meat and vegetables. First I chopped the onions and garlic by drawing my mouse vertically and horizontally across the veggies. Then I created the meat mixture by dragging and dropping ingredients into the mixing bowl in the correct order in response to visual cues I was given. By following the circular and zig-zag patterns on-screen I was able to knead the meat mixture and fold it into the pastry shells. The final step was to drop each Gyoza into a pot of water to boil them, and quickly pull them out again once they had turned the correct shade of golden brown.
A few of my Gyoza were a little burnt, so I only got a grade of A-. They fared better than my deviled eggs, however, which I completely botched by squirting out too much of the egg yolk mixture into the egg white cups. If you fail a dish, you make your instructor sick, which is never a good thing. However, you can retry a dish at any time to try to get it right.
Cooking Academy also recreates the scenario in Cooking Mama that has you responding to a series of commands that scroll along the bottom of the screen as a dish cooks on the stove top. The goal here is to adjust the heat on the stove, stir the pot, and add ingredients at precisely the right moments.
There are more than 50 recipes to master in Cooking Academy, and one of the coolest things about the game is that you might actually acquire some new skills in the kitchen by playing it, whether it’s being shown how to correctly slice a tomato, pit an avocado or fold a spring roll, or learning what ingredients go into making guacamole or fondue – and that’s not something you can say about every game.