When I bought My Universe: Cooking Star Restaurant I had one question in my mind. Has the cooking game genre moved forward since the Wii shovelware days? Outside of the Cook, Serve Delicious games, so far the answer has been no. This game firmly confirmed that answer too – it is everything you’d expect from a Wii cooking game. Some of that, is actually quite welcome. Other parts though, I wish we’d leave behind.
At the start of the game you hire a chef and open your personally named restaurant. Whilst its a cooking game and you hire chefs, they just seem to stand next to you and tell you what to do! Why aren’t they cooking?! Each of the 6 chefs you’ll hire across the game as your business expands will bring 6 dishes with them, slowly unlocking as you repeat preparing their dishes and gaining XP to level up the chef and your business. The chefs are themed so you’ll have pancakes from America, lasagne from Italy, sushi from Japan, a lassi from India and so on. This adds plenty of initial variety to your menu – on the surface at least.
Each dish is prepared using quick minigames such as pressing buttons to crack eggs, rotating the analogue stick to mix ingredients, moving a knife and pressing a button to chop veggies and so on. For the first few menu items, it appears that there are quite a few minigames as each dish can range from 4 to 8 minigames to complete within a time limit. The problem is that after half an hour you’ll start to realise that you’ll be pouring, mixing, chopping, peeling, frying and flipping different ingredients over and over and over again. The colours or the ingredients will change but the actions remain the same and soon repetition sets in. In order to keep you on your toes, each meal a chef unlocks has a slightly tighter time limit to complete. Some of these time limits are actually very tight so you have to be on the ball and speedy to get 3 star ratings for a few of them. Outside of that though, you’ll be grinding through to just unlock all the menu items and reach level 25 in your restaurant to finish the game.
I did run into a couple of oddities whilst completing the game. Firstly, the game would often rate me as 3 stars on one screen, then give me only 2 stars afterwards. Sometimes it was the other way round. Very odd. Whilst I applaud the controls in general for the game, using the frying pan seemed to be totally random. I’d follow the controls and sometimes it’d work and sometimes it wouldn’t. There was no correlation between completing the task and getting a score so I’d often run out of time and need to 3 star every other minigame to get my top marks overall. The final quirk was that you have the ability to clear plates and seat customers and you can get an XP boost for seating them where they ask to be sat. Customers have an odd definition of what a first floor is…
Bright, colourful, chonky and arcade to the hilt, My Universe: Cooking Star Restaurant feels like a mid-tier Wii game coming out a decade too late. I was charmed initially and oddly, I did want to see the dishes and three star them – so that says something about the games set up and premise. I was never offended or upset playing the game, it just lacked minigame variety to sustain itself over the 6-7 hours of gameplay. I’d seen every minigame after about 2 hours and then its rinse and repeat all the way home. I’d welcome a sequel to this game if the was more minigame variation.
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