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Nintendo DS Review: Crafting Mama

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Oh the Mama franchise…it’s so domestic. We have Cooking Mama and Gardening Mama and now Crafting Mama. What about the supplemental line: Working Mama? No, of course not, that may actually give Mama a sense of professional entitlement. But what about Lawyer Mama or CEO Mama? Nope — that would mean Mama is getting too far out of her domestic sphere. At this point though, I wonder just how much juice this franchise still has left in it, I mean, going the crafting route seemed to like scraping the bottom of the barrel to me.  Of course, there’s also the new Wii game, Babysitting Mama.  Yeah, they went there. It’s seriously a babysitting sim. Honestly, who would want to even change simulated diapers and have to calm down simulated infants? What’s next? Cleaning Mama? Or even Baby Mama? Yes, a game where players have to deal with simulated pregnancy. Who knows….

As for Crafting Mama, I wouldn’t say it’s the best entry into the franchise, but it’s still fun. Much like in previous Mama titles, Crafting Mama consists of several items you can make all via mini-games that simulate the actual creation of nifty things like balloon art, pinwheels, candles, squirt guns, and other nicky-nacky things. The type of mini-games is a little different than other Mama games and, though they are more forgiving than in previous titles, it seems like the mini-games are more complicated. This actually works well for players who are already familiar with the franchise, but can lead to severe frustration for newcomers (especially if you’re like me and don’t read the directions or doing a practice run beforehand).

As players complete crafts in the title they open other crafts and even unveil parts of a picture. Most crafts, after they’ve been completed, open up to a “crafting game,” which allows for variations on the craft, typically different colors or shapes.  However, the mini-games needed to create the item are still the same, so it’s a little tiring to replay them once complete. There is also the mystery craft area, where players have the option of working with wood, clay, and other items to create more “free form” crafts. These are much more involved items than the typical mini-games and, unfortunately, aren’t as exciting as they seem. Once players reveal the mystery crafts, they become available as part of the craft list.

The best feature of the game is the crafting party, where players can connect with their friends. The entire thing is pretty basic, sure, but it helps make the game come alive. Unfortunately, past the networking options, there isn’t much that’s new and exciting.

Something about Crafting Mama just isn’t as engaging as Cooking Mama. Maybe the charm has just worn off, but the simulated fun just isn’t as exciting as the cooking games. Maybe it is the crafting angle, maybe the franchise is just worn out, but Crafting Mama just doesn’t lead to me obsessively playing as the other titles in the franchise have.  Don’t get me wrong it’s still fun, but I was expecting more from it.

I wouldn’t suggest Crafting Mama if you’re strapped for cash or are not already hooked on the Mama franchise. For newcomers, it’s best to pick up Cooking Mama 1, 2, or 3 and just let this one go. For those who have already enjoyed being part of Mama’s adventures, Crafting Mama is a fun installment in the series, but it’s just not as engaging.

Crafting Mama is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief.

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