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More Virtual Cooking: "Chocolatier 2" and others


Published January 30, 2008 at 8:16 a.m.

What game blends "greed, deceit and backstabbing" with luscious, chocolate-y goodness? It's called Chocolatier 2: Secret Ingredients and was made by the fun folks at Flashbang Studios.

Flashbang is also responsible for games called "Hot Dish" -- in which you may be called upon to stir up spaghetti marinara or chicken Alfredo -- "Pizza Chef" and "Farm Frenzy," for those who want to actually grow imaginary food as well as cook it.

I'm not sure how I missed these games when I was writing my article on virtual cooking, Good to the Last Byte, but I did. None of my interviewees mentioned them, and I had plenty of other games to write about. I still think it's neat, and weird, when people who don't actually like to cook spend their time chopping chicken for digital Parmigiana. But I guess it's good that gamers' online activities don't always translate to real life. After all, I know plenty of people who spend their spare time killing aliens, beating people with crowbars and turning random strangers into vampires.

Because I want to be a thorough and accurate researcher, I spent some time playing "Hot Dish," this morning. The game is very similar to "Cooking Mama" in that the player actually performs steps that simulate following a recipe. I made pasta marinara, lasagna Bolognese and pizza by mincing garlic, grating cheese, rolling dough and simmering sauces. After each "meal" was completed, a smiling food critic analyzed the quality of the dishes. If I finished one too early and it got a little cold, she could be rather scathing.

The game had a couple of flaws. One is that you cant see how many steps it takes to make each dish, so it's hard to manage them carefully enough to get 'em all done at the same time. Another is that without a mouse, it's really difficult to complete the "stirring" task successfully. I could chop and add ingredients like nobody's business, but when I had to take a wooden spoon to a pot of gently simmering tomatoes, I failed nearly every time. And the bitchy critic let me know that she was disappointed. Critics.

"Hot Dish" got rather repetitive after a while -- do I really have to make another damned lasagna? I sometimes wondered -- but it's probably much more fun if one purchases the full version rather than playing the limited trial -- then you get to make French and Japanese dishes, too.

In any case, I can't wait to try the next food-tastic computer game...deceit and backstabbing, here I come!

P.S. I'm a few posts behind on my goal of 366 delicious blogs in 366 days, so I'll be posting a lot for the next few days in an effort to get caught up.