"Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine," for Nintendo Wii, Black Lantern Studios, rated "E" for Everyone; reviewer's rating: 2 (out of 10)
The idea of a reality TV/culinary game show might, on the surface, seem a bit odd. But in the mid- to late-'90s, the Japanese hit it out of the park with "Iron Chef," a witty, campy and entertaining series of episodes on global cuisine and the ability of top chefs to perform under extreme pressure.
With cult-like following and spin-offs here in the United States, the phenomenon has now spilled over into the video-game arena.
Like the TV show, the video game pits you as a new challenger chef "battling" one of the resident Iron Chefs in a timed cooking competition based on a theme ingredient.
Too bad this installment falls as flat as your first attempt at souffle.
The game starts off promising, with host Alton Brown (from the Food Network, one of the few highlights in the game) offering interesting facts about special ingredients and tips on proper knife technique. But his inane quips get a little stale, since you'll hear them all after playing the game for more than a couple of hours.
And after only a couple of hours you've basically completed every one of the game's "moves" and "abilities" over and over.
Stiffly animated avatars aside, even the potentially colorful personalities of "Iron Chef" celebrities Mario Batali, Cat Cora and Masaharu Morimoto can't save the game-play monotony of slicing, chopping, grating, stirring and filleting.
Game play: Mixing, tracing, dipping, slicing, chopping, grating, stirring, filleting … you get the idea. Oh, and then there is boiling water. Yes, you get to boil! Water! Sauces! Other liquids! What could be more entertaining than that? I can think of many things, and sadly this title doesn't offer any of them.
The biggest disappointment in the game play is the lack of any real challenge. The "Iron Chefs" here are wimps. You can beat them by just completing the same dull, simple mini-games. Did I mention the awards for achieving the culinary peak of being the "Best Stirrer?" Oh, yeah.
Graphic: As mentioned, the animation is stiff and static, and the movements of various kitchen tasks are clunky to the point of asking yourself, "Did they really mean to do that?" One mildly entertaining value, though, is "The Chairman" intonating as only he can the dish's secret ingredients ("Sweet po-tay-to!") or method of preparation technique ("SSS-lice!").
Parent's take: If you're interested in getting your kids into cooking (and are inclined to use a video game to do so), skip this one. Go get them the "Cooking Mama" series of games (most platforms), which are infinitely more interesting and instructive.
Final word: I don't know if there are any less-valued games — entertainment or otherwise — out there for the $40 you'll likely drop for this title. Sorry all you wannabe "Iron Chefs" out there, this game only reinforces that you should practice your cooking skills in a real kitchen, not on a 60-inch big screen with Wii remotes.