IGN Review of Personal Trainer: Cooking
Nintendo's attempts to lure in new gamers have seen mixed results, but Personal Trainer: Cooking is a slam dunk for anyone who needs a little help around the kitchen. We all gotta eat, right? This is the perfect opportunity for us gamers to pass on another frozen pizza and get our hands dirty making our own darn food. Personal Trainer: Cooking isn't the first culinary coach for the DS -- Jamie Oliver's game arrived a few weeks ago. But Nintendo's effort goes far beyond what Jamie cooked up, acting as a truly interactive cookbook with lots of audio tips, video tutorials, and a friendly interface.
I should point out this isn't a game. There aren't any touch screen mini-games to be played and you aren't scored on the meals you prepare. Rather, this is a modern cookbook that goes much further with its advice than your common bound text. Basically, the book is dead and nobody knows how to read anymore, anyway. You're probably just staring at this review, trying to make sense of all the funny characters, right? Anyway, the meat of Cooking is the 245 recipes from all sorts of ethnicities and their step-by-step tutorials. The menu can be sorted in several useful ways by country of origin, course, ingredients, calories, prep time, and more. A calendar keeps track of your adventures in food, stamping dates you used the software and what dish was prepared. Maneuvering around the interface with your stylus is a breeze.
But of course, once you get cooking you're liable to get your hands begrimed and you don't want to dirty your DS. That's why Nintendo included the option to move through recipes with your voice. Using the commands "last step," "repeat," and "continue," the DS microphone will hear and obey. The method doesn't work perfectly and you may have to repeat yourself a few times, but it's not quite as bad as the microphone tests in Brain Age ("Yellow. Y-e-l-l-o-w. YELLOW!!").
Thanks to thorough voice work you don't have to keep your eyes on the screen, either. Your Personal Trainer is here to help, even if you haven't done much cooking and aren't familiar with common methods and techniques. Don't know the proper way to cut a pepper? The software reads the steps aloud to you, and photo references are available if you need to check your work. Many steps even have video tutorials you can launch if you get stuck. In the settings menu you can choose a speed you want directions read. The software uses time stretch technology to extend or shorten the dialogue.
While viewing the ingredients for any recipe you can add items you need to your shopping list. The list also includes a calculator in case you need to pinch pennies in the grocery aisle.
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