Developer: FUGAZO
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.9.5
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

I’ll tell you a little secret: I’m a Food Network junkie. Show me how to cook something, and I’m transfixed. So when the opportunity arose to review Cooking Academy for the iPhone, I jumped at it – not because I thought it was going to teach me something about cooking, but because I just can’t resist cooking – even when it’s just a theme for a fairly benign game.

Cooking Academy places you in a generic school for aspiring chefs. In order to move up the ranks, you have to learn to cook a series of dishes, ranging from appetizers like gyoza to full-fledged main courses. One of the real strong points of Cooking Academy is the sheer number of dishes you have to work your way through. Assuming you just peruse one or two challenges each time you play, it should take you quite a while to finally reach the end of everything the game has to offer.

The game’s controls should be familiar to anyone who has played a game like this (even, say, Fruit Ninja) or a more complicated rhythm-style game. Each dish has a variety of steps. For instance, Gyoza requires you to tap on the dough to roll it out, tap ingredients to cook them, slide your finger to drag ingredients to the dough, slide your finger to roll up the dough and tap repeatedly to “dimple” the dough into the familiar gyoza shape. Tired yet? You will be eventually, as this is one of the simplest “recipes.” Speed and accuracy are of the essence, so the game nicely provides a practice mode to help you build up your chef skills.

The graphics and sounds are simple and straightforward and don’t really do much to help Cooking Academy stand out from other similar games. A unique artistic style would have been nice to see, as would a menu that focused on a particular nationality’s cuisine. Instead you get a mish-mash of cultural foods with a very white bread graphical style and the highly unusual inclusion of banjo music in the background for some odd reason. There isn’t a unifying design dominating the game, and that really could help the overall appeal of playing Cooking Academy.

Cooking Academy is a basic, light little game that has some great ideas and controls but a weak graphical style. That said, it still provides some of the vicarious thrills a wanna-be Iron Chef like me desires.


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