Knife, fork, spoon, and stylus. Later this year, Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine sets the dinner table for judging a new entry into the competitive world of portable cooking. While it doesn't have the adorable appeal of other culinary titles, it has plenty of edgy competition with inventive multiplayer modes and licensed personalities.
Picking up where Cooking Mama left off, Iron Chef America combines cuisine with competition. Properly preparing your dishes is as important as finishing ahead of your competitor. Mind you, it isn't so much a race as judged battle, so creating quality meals is what assures victory in Kitchen Stadium.
At the start of every battle, a secret ingredient is revealed to be used throughout the dishes you prepare. A list of possible dishes pops up and you're free to choose a few, after which you start cooking. How well you prepare these selected recipes determines your reception by the judge, who ultimately decide the winner.
Variety is the spice of life, which makes Iron Chef America quite the savoury title. From a dozen ingredients come a whopping cookbook filled with more than a hundred different recipes. Since you're given the freedom to select which recipes to use at the start of every battle, you're never forced into playing the same recipes repeatedly. Instead, it's possible to run into the same ingredient and still manage a different slate of dishes as a result.
Creating a dish involves several steps that break down into preparation, cooking, and plating. Like Cooking Mama, each action plays out as a mini-game whether that be chopping vegetables or grilling meats. All of these mini-games are timed or dependent on your reflexes for success, which makes Cooking School mode extremely useful in honing your basic culinary skills. If your knifemanship is lacking, for example, pop on over for some exercises to increase your proficiency.
Once you've finished preparation and gone through the steps to cook your dish, you get to plate it for the judges. In the television program, presentation contributes to a chef's overall score but that has been removed as a factor here. Instead, you're welcome to garnish your dishes as you wish without it impacting your performance.
Iron Chef America looks decent enough on the single player side, but it's the competitive multiplayer modes that have us salivating. A hot swap head-to-head mode allows you and a buddy to pass around a single DS completing challenges, whereas multi-card competition lets you battle it out simultaneously with a friend. During both modes, a meter running on the top screen signifies both players' progress in the battle.
Multiplayer will make or break Iron Chef America in the battle for the title of supreme handheld cooking game. The competitive element sets it apart from cutesy Cooking Mama, but whether it can garner the same appeal will have to be seen when the table gets set later this fall.