Go-Go Gourmet: Chef of the Year Review

Tired of time management titles? Had it up to here with hidden object games? Perhaps you should reconsider. Combining the best aspects of both with a reality cooking show-style presentation, Go-Go Gourmet: Chef of the Year resumes where its predecessor left off, serving up a tasty hybrid of gameplay styles.

Better yet, while the outing’s frantic pacing and occasionally off collision detection will leave you breathless, and not always in a good way, it’s still an incredibly easy prospect to swallow.

Now an accomplished chef, Ginger, star of the original Go-Go Gourmet, is back. Here, she must compete in an international tourney against a set of friendly peers from seven different countries. Per a storyline which unfolds through a series of captioned still picture interludes starring colorful comic strip-style characters, you must help the young lass – representing the good old US of A – outperform rivals.

Mind you, the setup (an elimination style bout divided into individual point-scoring rounds, with multi-stage totals eventually determining who gets knocked out) is all in good fun. However, actual play itself is incredibly demanding, so get those fingers ready, because you’ll have to click like a madman to make any sustained headway.

Each stage effectively consists of a single-screen kitchen, themed after the current territory you’re visiting. Before it begins, a list of ingredients – cinnamon, flour, soy sauce, bamboo shots, chicken stock, bread, whatever – and list of recipes is chosen. Upon arrival, foods are spread about the screen in seemingly haphazard position. Thus, at any given moment, you might find a pile of mushrooms located on a nearby shelf, a sprig of rosemary atop a remotely-located counter or carton of milked clandestinely stashed by the frying pan and butter.

As evidenced by the appearance of cartoon characters on the right side of the screen, judges soon arrive, demanding you fill certain orders. By clicking on each, it’s possible to not only see the steps and ingredients needed to fill their cravings for herb roasted turkey, western omelet sandwiches or hot and sour soup. Curiously, via this method, you can also juggle which order you’re actively filling at any given time.

The catch being that the clock’s always ticking, and there’s only so much that can be accomplished in a given set. Likewise, a dwindling meter reflects’ judges patience, and shows what score out of 10 points they’ll award once the meal is delivered. Of course, in the meantime, you’ll be kept ridiculously busy having to choose which task to prioritize, scour your kitchen for the right ingredients to complete each step and make sure concoctions simmer, boil or reduce as needed.

Expect to be suitably flustered running between stove, food processor and shelf, with the heroine complicating matters by always wandering back to the center of the screen unless you’ve been quick enough to click on the next necessary item beforehand. And, of course, deciding which orders to focus on and when as indicated above, especially once time-freezing power-ups and other goodies – collectible by completing orders for the specific individuals they’re attached to in super-quick fashion – start appearing.

It doesn’t help that hint functions take time to recharge; clicks don’t always seem to register; dozens of ingredients can simultaneously populate the screen; and items are often disguised behind one another or in remotely-located positions.

On the upside, though, the title delivers the goods when it comes to sheer addictiveness, the presentation’s top notch, and collectibles are plentiful to boot. In addition, the more you progress, the more user-selectable speed- or point boost-bestowing outfits one can grab, souvenirs you’ll snag and even printable recipes that become available.

Bonus stages also help liven up the proceedings, demanding you find a certain number of objects or match the exact sequence of foods depicted in a specific photo. The only thing missing is an alternate play mode or two to help round things out.

Basically more of the same, but offering a slightly wider variety of sights and options, Go-Go Gourmet: Chef of the Year serves up a delicious helping of game styles that’s hard to dismiss. However, do be aware going in, especially if you’re not a veteran keyboard jock. Like the sugar rushes the many cakes and confectionary goods you’ll put together within would surely inspire in real-life, its willy-nilly blend of real-time shucking and strategizing can quickly and woozily go to one’s head.

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