Video games and food have a longstanding history together. 1980’s Pac-Man was created not only due to creator TÅru Iwatani’s desire to reach members of both genders through the shared appreciation of eating, but also due to realizing that a pizza missing a slice looked just like the simple mouth he needed to gobble down endless dots and fruits. Following that, we’ve gone from BurgerTime to Burger King, and from Diner Dash to Cooking Mama.
The latest in this lineage of combining food and fun is Mad Chef. And unlike some of the other titles named above, this is one game that won’t leave you hungry… literally.
You see, while other games may task you with assembling burgers or other tasty delicacies, Mad Chef has a different culinary agenda in mind. Ratburgers, mustard salad, saucy pigeon wings, and other such unappetizing (to say nothing of health code violating) fare adorn his menu– at least, to start. And believe it or not, people are lining up for this stuff!
Don’t play with your food.
Though Mad Chef does little to whet the appetite as some other games do, it’s actually a lot of fun to play. What’s more, while the action is all about quick identification and reflexes on the surface, there’s a bit of a long game attached as well.
The main part of the game takes place at Mad Chef’s restaurants, where his assistant hurls all manner of food through the air while the Mad Chef hurls his many pieces of cutlery to hit the necessary ingredients for incoming orders in the proper sequence. There is a bit of a balancing act here, as the more orders you get right and the less food you waste, the more money you get; the more money you get, the more you can put back into the business. The more recipes you have, the more money you can make. But at the same time, more recipes equals more items, which gradually increases the complexity.
In addition to earning money, you’ll also earn reputation in the form of stars for your restaurant, which gradually fill as you play. If you earn five stars and enough money, you can open a new restaurant, going from food cart to diner and beyond. New restaurants begin with more reputation, and offer better fare as well, such as ham sandwiches, scrambled eggs, and hash browns.
Other sequences mix things up a bit, as Mad Chef works at a take-out restaurant, where several lines form and you have to hit a certain number of a type of food (i.e. meat, seafood, fruits and veggies) within a certain time limit, or the lunch rush, where your goal is to simply hit as much food as possible to placate the crowd of people.
In all, it’s crazy, mad-cap fun with a whimsical sense of style. The graphics are cartoony, if a little low-budge, and the music is charming enough, but if nothing else, the developers must be applauded for the controls. During gameplay, there is a lot of stuff being flung around, and yet the controls are amazingly precise. Sometimes there will even be different items layered on top of each other, and more often than not, you’ll hit the exact one you need– even if it’s almost off the screen. As touch-control precision goes, this game excels.
The only serious weakness we find with the game– and your mileage may vary– is that it’s not quite ideal for longer, extended play sessions, save for when you’re trying to power through to earn enough money for something, or get that next star. However, it is a lot of fun to play in several shorter sessions, and looks to have a certain longevity in that regard.