Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Nintendo Bets on Recipe to Turn Gamers Into Gourmands

Take a dash of curiosity, a dollop of kitchen know-how and a cup of videogaming and you could make yourself into a gourmet chef. That's if Nintendo's recipe goes according to plan.

Last week, the video game company released "Personal Trainer: Cooking" ($19.99) for its DS platform, a 245-recipe cooking game that teaches the hungry how to cook like a pro — albeit a Japanese one.

This latest offering for the DS joins other titles such as "Quick Yoga Training" and "My Stop Smoking Coach," both of which promise to transform gamers into better versions of themselves by playing Nintendo.

Using live videos and recipes developed by the Tsuji Cooking Academy in Osaka, Japan, "Personal Trainer: Cooking" lets users scroll the globe searching for the perfect dinner dish.

A virtual chef guides home cooks through each step, and voice-recognition software allows the player to go backward and forward in directions without touching the Nintendo DS with salmonella hands.

But does it work? FOXNews.com spent the weekend testing a few of the recipes to get a feel for how well they work and how good they taste.

• Click here for more photos.

• Click here to visit FOXNews.com's Video Gaming Center.

Test 1: American

"Personal Trainer: Cooking" offers only 10 American recipes here, so if you're looking for Rachael Ray, then turn on the Food Network.

"Clam chowder, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and the classic hamburger are popular examples of American cuisine," the game says.

Well, at least they have the fast-food nation covered. But have you ever come across a chili con carne recipe that requires "4 frankfurter sausages"?

Herein lies one of the weaknesses of the game — its recipes are developed in Japan, a nation with its own interesting take on our Stateside cuisine.

For example, this game's jambalaya recipe calls for sliced squid. We checked with a few Louisianans and none had ever heard of their state's staple calling for that ingredient.

That said, the crab cake recipe FOXNews.com tried was a relatively simple mix of crab meat, seasonings and stuff those on the Eastern Seaboard would call filler — in this case, panko flakes. Yet the preparation was easy and the flavor was good.

Grade: B for effort.

Test 2: Indian

Cooking Indian can be a complex affair for even the most versatile chefs because of the spices involved.

"Personal Trainer: Cooking" offers seven recipes from turmeric rice to a lassi yogurt drink for the adventuresome diner, and its spinach curry recipe seemed like a healthy Saturday night pick with only one ingredient relatively hard to find, garam masala.

Here, though, an odd instruction turned the dish into a gingery affair.

Instructions called for two-thirds of a piece of ginger root, with no mention of the size of the root piece, though they vary at the store.

It seems like a few translations were missed by developers and added late to the game's instruction booklet, which the hungry FOXNews.com chef read only after preparing the meal.

In this game, a piece of ginger root equals a half-ounce. Our test chef used considerably more.

Despite the extra ginger, it took just under an hour to turn an onion, frozen spinach, a tomato and some cottage cheese into a tasty alternative to the local Indian joint down the street.

But, again as with the American genre, there's a feeling that Padma Lakshmi might turn up her nose at this recipe.

Grade: B for flavor.

Test 3: Japanese

The best bets for recipes in "Personal Trainer: Cooking" involve Asian cuisine.

Developed in Japan, this game has 15 recipes from that nation and 28 from China, along with dishes from Thailand, Indonesia and Korea.

FOXNews.com tried to make a dish labeled "Japanese savory pancakes" that our chef once had eaten at a party held by some Japanese friends who called it by its real name: okonomiyaki.

Here, the game's "view ingredients" function came in handy as the FOXNews.com chef perused the aisles of a Japanese grocery store trying to match the photo of the game's Chinese yam with something that turned out to be labeled "nagaimo."

Another welcome addition to the game is its shopping list, convenient provided you don't mind wandering your local supermarket with an open video-game console.

Back in testquarters, the chef's directions worked perfectly, though a few more minutes for chopping would have been helpful.

Turning down the volume of the chef's virtual directions helps ensure that it won't skip ahead to the next step before the real-life cook is done chopping the cabbage.

Grade: A for tasting just like the restaurant.

Overall, the game works great for an adventurous cook who doesn't mind dabbling in the exotic.

If you're looking for quick food tips fast on American dishes, wait for Nintendo to get instructors from the Culinary Institute of America to develop "Personal Trainer: Cooking 2, The American Way" — or just stick with your favorite cookbook.