Nintendo recently reached out to me, saying, “Hey, Chef Blogger Dad, you are the most awesome cook ever, and probably don’t even need help in the kitchen, but how would you like to review America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking for the Nintendo DS?”
Well, that’s not exactly what they said, but you get the idea – awesome chef daddy blogger reviewing a game.
Problem is, that while I am a Master Chef, I rarely cook anything which involves a whole lot of preparation, beyond ‘open box and insert into microwave.’ In other words, if I reviewed the game, I’d actually have to cook. A real meal. With like steps and stuff.
The game, though I’m not sure it’s really a game so much as an interactive cookbook on steroids, offers 300 recipes tested by the cooks at the TV Show America’s Test Kitchen.
- So, was the game all it was hyped up to be in the press release?
- Or is Nintendo going to wish they never sent me the game?
- Would I cut off a body part?
Keep reading, friend.
Tonight’s meal : Pasta Caprese and Grilled Lemon Chicken
America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking walks you through the preparation of the meal, via the voice of a man, presumably a chef, who instructs you while pleasant mall-type music plays in the background. My wife danced, jokingly, which caused my three year old son, E, to crack up. As I fumbled through the cutting of tomatoes, the game waited. As you complete each step, you can either tap the screen or verbally tell the game to move on.
The only downside to the verbal cues is that if your game is too close to you or the kitchen is too loud, it picks up on noises, which will cause the chef to ask, “hmm?”
For instance, my cat came into the kitchen in attempt to trip me as I was navigating a minefield of bowls, pans, and utensils. I told the cat to get out of the kitchen using words you probably shouldn’t use in front of kids, or cats, for that matter. To which the chef asked, “hmm?”
Some people like to cook with their families. I call these people crazy. I’m the type of person who prefers an empty kitchen, or preferably an empty house, when I cook. The kitchen is My Space and I guard it jealously when I’m in there.
However, I can see the appeal of using the game to cook with your family. America’s Test Kitchen allows you to assign tasks to each family member. When setting up chef profiles, you can let the game know whether or not the chef is able to use knives or hot surfaces, so children will get only safe duties.
But one of the coolest features for a picky eater like me is that you can tell the game which ingredients you don’t eat, and it will narrow your search results and menu options to only foods which don’t contain those items.
Another cool feature is the series of videos which show you various kitchen basics like how to clean a cutting board, the correct way to use a knife, and other informative things which I found very useful. Prior to watching the video on knife use, I held my knife like a ninja, or sometimes, Jason from the Friday the 13th movies. Which, as it turns out, is not the correct way to use a blade.
Does the idea of cooking scare you a bit? Don’t worry. The game is packed with information! My wife has tons of kitchen utensils that I don’t even recognize, let alone know how to use. Fortunately, America’s Test Kitchen has helped me figure out what most of these things do.
Find a standard cookbook that can do that!
I only have two complaints regarding the game, and they are minor ones.
Firstly, it seems like the chef can only coach you through one meal at a time. If you’re trying to make two or more dishes at once, which is not unheard of, you’ll have to exit out of the menu and go back and forth. Fortunately, the game does save your progress, making this an easy enough thing to do. However, I’d love it if you could combine meals and cook them all at once.
Secondly, while the game includes calorie information, it doesn’t include other nutritional values of the meals, such as sodium, fat content, and other things people may want to know.
America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking is a surprisingly fun and useful interactive cookbook. Packed with lots of great recipes and even more relevant information, this is a must-have game for anyone who wants to learn to cook or simply wants to make dinner time more fun for the family.
- easy-to-use interface
- allows you to create a shopping list based on your chosen recipes
- great video tutorials
- selection of 300 recipes
- calendar and suggested menus
- ability to add notes
- can delegate cooking instructions to others
- can share recipes while cooking if someone else has a Nintendo DS
- can’t cook more than one recipe at a time without pausing
- no nutrition information other than calories
Item: America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking for the Nintendo DS (all sizes)
Cost: approximately $19.99
Overall Score: 90 out of 100
More information: America’s Test Kitchen page at Nintendo.com
Final impressions: The meal
As for the meal, it was great. While I don’t normally eat vegetables, there’s something about cooking a meal myself which makes me a bit more inclined to try new things. The whole family loved the meal (though E did ask me to put marinara on his pasta). The only downside to the meal was that it was so good that my wife now wants me to cook. Every night.
All in all, a great experience. Of course, after I looked around at the pile of dirty pots, pans, and dishes, I was looking for a different game, America’s Test Kitchen: Cleaning Up the Mess.
(Note: I was compensated for this review. However, Nintendo placed zero restrictions on my review. Well, they did ask me not to cook naked, but I think that was just a safety precaution. I’ve been thoroughly honest about my experience and opinions of the product, because that’s how Blogger Dad rolls. Got any questions or comments about America’s Test Kitchen: Let’s Get Cooking? Leave them below.)
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