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This user friendly, companion trainer provides helpful, informative and entertaining ways to strengthen your cooking skills.

Nintendo DS Review: Personal Trainer: Cooking

The user-friendly Personal Trainer: Cooking further blurs the line between game and electronic companion while providing helpful, informative and, yes, entertaining ways to strengthen your cooking skills. Yes, cooking for real here folks; just be careful when you’re cutting, OK (see other disclaimers at the game’s beginning)? This trainer totes a large recipe cookbook (approximately 240 recipes) and a smooth, flexible way to go to culinary school at the Tsuji Cooking Academy on your own time.

After setting the voice instruction speed (the animated cook does not really match the engaging voice), you progress through a calendar that scribes your edible works (up to three recipes a day) and provides records for revisiting those recipes and experiences – special day bonuses are an especially nice touch.

All the interactive information and recipe presentations are well organized. Browse through categories like preparation, ingredients, helpful tips, and cooking techniques any time before you actually start making your dish. You can even preview every step in a recipe for even more warm up preparation so the cooking goes more smoothly, especially recommended if you’re going to have an audience. Other aids include a term glossary (background of food), conversions, substitutions, and a handy timer.

The superb organization allows you to find recipes by main ingredient, country (not necessarily by origin), calories, cooking time/method and difficulty. You can also find recipes through your notes, which are scribed through writing recognition boxes similarly seen in the latest crossword/puzzle games. It’s a personally customizable element where you can input peoples’ names or specific events then have the ability to search and categorize them all later.

There are 20 quick, but concise tutorial videos on simple tasks like making sushi rolls and washing rice, making for great visual aids. Pictures always accompany the text throughout the game in helpful interactions like ingredients identification. The visuals increase your retention rate as you learn the dishes.

Once you are comfortable to do the real thing, the voice recognition (a.k.a. Hands-Free Voice Control) allows you to set your pace. The voice recognition saves time, provides a faster information process, and even improves your speaking skills so your hands, eyes and body can focus on the cooking. It’s a great tool for players and rising chefs willing to try new things. Frustration and memories of telephone system nightmares can surface, but can be avoided by conducting the mic test so you know your ideal volume and range before trying the recipe. Using the voice recognition in an environment with minimal background noise helps too (don’t slam though oven doors either). Once you find your voice, the recognition works well.

This game has all the bases covered, even allowing adjustments for one, two, four, or six servings and a selectable grocery list where you can pick ingredients you do or do not like. The music needs some improvement, but overall the game is a well planned, educational trainer with great considerations for the audience (e.g. deselecting foods – perfect for eaters with specific allergies). Also known as Cooking Guide: Can’t Decide What to Eat?, this game is a U.S. version of the 2006 Japanese Nintendo DS game, Shaberu! DS Oryouri Navi and is part of Nintendo’s "Touch Generations" game series.

Personal Trainer: Cooking is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for alcohol reference.


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