Review: Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine Game for the Nintendo Wii [video]
I got an early Christmas present the other day — a copy of Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine for the Nintendo Wii. Trailers on the web had it clearly ripping off game design elements from the Cooking Mama series, in which players go through a series of tasks to create a final dish. Cooking Mama is mildly amusing, but Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine is, without a doubt, a complete disaster.
The game is just a lame, infuriatingly nonsensical, slow-moving, low-budget, grindingly repetitive, shovel-ware shit-storm waste of the Iron Chef brand and an offense to the awesomeness that is the Nintendo Wii. I can't even begin to describe how frustrating this game is. If this review even prevents one innocent food-lover and video game enthusiast from buying this garbage and wasting 40 dollars, then we've done our job.
Modeled on the fun, competitive, somewhat engaging television show, the game features the virtual likenesses of the Chairman (Mark Dacascos), Mario Batali, Cat Cora, Alton Brown, and Masaharu Morimoto. Bobby Flay totally did himself a favor by not participating — the poorly-rendered graphics look like shit. Witness Alton Brown's odd cornrows or the cross-eyed Mario Batali. When characters speak, their lips don't move — stills just fade in and out every few seconds.
Gameplay is unintuitive. Once the secret ingredient is revealed, you need to select dishes from a group — there's no real explanation why a dish might be "better" than any other, no assignment of points, no ranking of difficulty. You're then thrown into "game mode," where you're assigned repetitive tasks over and fucking over. Chop chop slice pour slice chop chop boil sautee die of boredom.
While you're chopping yourself into catatonia, you never actually know what you're doing. For the first few seconds of each task, the lower left corner of the screen flashes the name of the dish it's intended for, but the type is so small and so pixelated that it barely registers. It's just endless, pointless mise. There are no cut scenes, no purpose, no fun graphics like in Cooking Mama, just one wiiimote-shaking exercise after another. At least in Cooking Mama, when you're making boeuf bourguignon, you sort of learn what goes into a dish. Not so with ICA.
Oh and hey, before you get excited about how many different secret ingredients there are to choose from, know this: There are only around a dozen tasks total, regardless of the recipes you choose, so you're going to be doing each of them a lot. Some of the tasks are just completely absurd: pouring liquid from a bowl into another bowl is actually a task. Another is moving the lever on a KitchenAid. Another is boiling liquid. I'm not kidding. Sauteeing involves clicking the pan once everything is cooked — that's all there is to it.
Plating consists of inanely dragging things, from a box to a plate. I never could understand how I was being judged for plating.
Alton's Floating Head of Incessant Trivia
Throughout the tasks, Alton Brown's floating head never stops chattering, dropping little knowledge bombs. Problem is, after playing the game for a while, he starts repeating himself, and often his fun facts take longer to spew than it takes to complete the accompanying task. We love Alton Brown, but seriously, in this game, there needs to be an option to make him shut up.
Celebrities As Unlockables
Don't think you'll be playing as an Iron Chef or against an Iron Chef. Nope. Batali, Morimoto, and Cora are only tantalizing box art and cut-scene characters. You only get to play against the celebrities (we assume) until you beat a dozen weird, generic chefs, requiring hours and hours of frustrating play. I didn't have the patience (or the masochism) to play until that point.
The developers must have run out of time, because unlike Cooking Mama, the two player mode isn't split screen. No, if you play against a friend, you have to take fucking turns. Just like in Pokemon! It's horrifically boring, there's no system of points or timing, and the final judging decision seems entirely arbitrary. Fun for all ages!
The only slightly redeeming thing about the game is the judges, who appear at the end of grinding through a challenge. The caricatures of Iron Chef judges expose the game's developers sense of humor, but it's a tired, cliched, and oddly sexist one. The game features the snooty Brit, the super-gay, the vapid actress ("I've never had anything explode in my mouth quite like this"), the jocular hick ("Of all the things I've put in my mouth in my life, this is by far the best"). The slim enjoyment this provides quickly dissipates when you realize that the developers only loaded these talking heads with a half-dozen or so phrases, which are deployed seemingly so at random that a critic will sometimes spout the same material twice in one judging.
Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine is terribly boring and painfully repetitive, and no fun at all. It's a sad attempt at cashing in on a popular brand. Shame on Destineer for releasing this garbage. If you need to spend $40 on a cooking game, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and buy the latest Cooking Mama. Better yet, just go in the kitchen and make something for real.
If this review doesn't convince you, then check out the gameplay video below: