The Cooking Mama series has been a fun adventure with cooking minigames utilizing the features of the Nintendo DS, 3DS, and Wii. Even expanding into other subjects — gardening, crafting, camping, and babysitting – the series has a dedicated fanbase. Sure, games in the series aren’t winning high school on Metacritic, yet it brings a sense of peace with cooking digital meals step-by-step.

So what happens when the latest game in the series is briefly available on the Nintendo eShop, has a small physical copy run, and becomes the subject of a cryptocurrency mining rumor that trended on Twitter? You get a fresh serving of Cooking Mama: Cookstar along with a heaping side of questions. Don’t worry, there’s plenty for seconds. 

PREP WORK

Leaked last year, initially it appeared that Cooking Mama: Cookstar would be released in 2019 on the Nintendo Switch. 2019 quickly turned into 2020 and a trailer for the game was released in February. The video closed with an estimated release date of March 2020. Clarification of an actual release date only came from retailers. There was no press or fanfare for March 31st, even on the official Twitter account for the game. In fact, the only tweets made at this time included info about where to buy the game, its listing on Amazon, and an image of a rainbow grilled cheese sandwich (one of the first playable recipes). 

 

 
Just like the Fyre Festival and the infamous cheese sandwich tweet, this would be the calm before the storm.

 

eSHOP WHO?

On March 31st, participating retailers began selling Cooking Mama: Cookstar. Copies were scarce, which is somewhat common for a niche game. Combine this with quarantine orders around the world, and many fans planned on buying the digital version of the game on the Nintendo eShop. Reportedly available for only four hours, Cookstar was removed from the eShop with no official statement from Nintendo. Any mention of the game has been removed from the company’s site as well. With the lack of information and mandates of “Safer At Home” orders, fans started trying to unravel this mystery. 

IGN’s Executive Editor Joe Skrebels jumped into the game launch mess, trying to make sense of what was going on. Ultimately, through their reporting they discovered that the developers who created the series (Office Create) were not behind the title beyond IP licensing credits. From the IGN article:

“The sole mention of a creator on Cooking Mama: Cookstar’s box is Planet Entertainment. Planet Entertainment is a part of Planet Digital Partners, a US company that boasts, in its own words, “an all-star team of video game industry leaders including the former PlayStation Europe President, the founder of Take 2/Grand Theft Auto, the former CEO of Guitar Hero and hit-maker developers of Halo, Quake, and NBA Playgrounds.”

That would seem to get us somewhere, but even this is something of a dead end. Neither Planet Entertainment, nor Planet Digital claim to be developers – both list themselves as publishers. I tried to work out if Planet Entertainment could be the development arm of Planet Digital Partners, and looked up its listed company headquarters – it’s just a sizeable house in rural Connecticut. I mean, it’s not impossible that that house is bustling with clever people coding virtual lettuce, but it doesn’t feel likely.

And it gets stranger: Planet doesn’t seem to acknowledge its involvement with Cooking Mama: Cookstar anywhere other than the game’s box, and the Cookstar website. The company Twitter account has been silent since 2019, and there’s no mention of the game on the Planet Entertainment website. In fact, that website has actively deleted older posts about the game.”

Then this past weekend, a rumor lit the stove top burner to high and caused Cooking Mama to invade Twitter’s trending tab and smash its Google Trends stats.  

 

ADD A DASH OF BLOCKCHAIN AND CRYPTOCURRENCY 

First making the rounds on an unknown Discord channel, user UHOHBRO posted the following unedited message:

 

@everyone THIS IS URGENT apparently if you own Cooking Mama Cookstar uninstall that immediately its Usiing your system to mine Crypto Currency and potentially handig your personal info as well as credit to Cybershroom for the heads up

The statement was then published on Twitter, and before this claim could be verified, the tweet took off and caused Cooking Mama to qualify for Twitter’s trend tab. Achieving #1 in many personal, curated trend lists, the game peaked at #10 on the overall trend list for the United States. Misinformation ran rampant and eventually it was disproven that the game was mining any cryptocurrency thanks to the gaming datamine community.  

 

 
Following this, the official Cookstar Twitter account issued a statement about the rumor, but it didn’t make the news reporting rounds until the next day.

“The internet is alive with rumors that Cooking Mama: Cookstar contains hidden cryptocurrency/blockchain capabilities that are causing the Switch to overheat. This is absolutely incorrect. 

At Planet Entertainment, we explored both blockchain technology and cryptocurrency tokens.

We looked at these options as a means to allow players to trade in-game assets. However, we only explored the theory behind the concept, not the implementation. Cooking Mama: Cookstar, nor any of our other titles in the past or near future will utilize crypto technology.”

After all this drama, it still didn’t put a dent into solving why the game wasn’t back on Nintendo’s eShop.

 

SCREENRANT PRESENTS A PERFECT SCOOP. EVEN BETTER THAN MAMA!

A member of Cookstar’s development team reached out to Screen Rant wanting to clear the air of mystery. Journalist Christopher Teuton published the exclusive correspondence that touched on why the game wasn’t available digitally and how the cryptocurrency rumor could take off thanks to previous press releases about the game. (Sections have been bolded for emphasis.)

“The statement about crypto-currency was all buzz words. The head of planet entertainment knows very little about these things… he just put some fancy language to get potential investors who like that stuff. As for the crashes/ overheating. That would be because the game is made in unity. By many people working on their first game… it’s not the best product but it made it through several vigorous reviews by nintendo and Sony. There is no way crypto-mining stuff could get through those tests. I doubt anyone at 1p would even be able to make such a thing.”

The developer also revealed the real reason Cooking Mama: Cookstar was pulled from the Nintendo eShop, stating “There is a legal battle between the publisher, planet entertainment and the ip holder, office create.” According to the developer, this is because “planet entertainment released the game against a request by office create to keep polishing the game, or perhaps even canceling it.” There was clearly a lack of communication between the publisher and the development team, as our source describes this kind of behavior as “pretty standard.”

“At one point the japanese official create clients came to oversee development. An argument started and the clients were told to go home if they weren’t being “constuctive”. Once they found out that planet entertainment released the game, they used their nintendo contacts to pull it from the e-shop and stop production of cartridges.

Overall, everyone at 1p loves the cooking mama franchise and did their best to make the best product considering the interference from the higher ups. I think the game is far from perfect, but would have done fine without the publishers stumbling so constantly…”

When asked about whether the game was released without letting the team know ahead of time, the developer replied, “It’s hard to say. We were told the game was coming out in March. That’s all anyone knew. The boss at 1p, tobi, keeps that kind of thing to herself mostly stating she doesn’t want to stress us with the details… Advertising was blocked by office create too. There were youtube ads, websites, and even tik tok ads that never came out.” The future of Cooking Mama: Cookstar remains uncertain, as the developer ended by saying “As I understand planet entertainment is sueing office create having it removed for money lost. It’s hard to say if it will ever be released properly.

 

DON’T WORRY. MAMA WILL FIX THIS?

The saying “a watched pot never boils” is too apropos here. We are now playing a waiting game of when Nintendo, Office Create, and/or Planet Entertainment will issue their next official statement about the game. Fans looking to play the game will have to resort to finding a physical copy — a difficult task, but it just became easier thanks to the option to buy it directly from Planet Entertainment. The company is charging full MSRP for the game ($59.99) which is more than what retailers originally listed it for. Regardless, it is still cheaper than the second hand market and third party sellers. Update: The listing on the official Cooking Mama: Cookstar site has returned to its $59.99 pricing.

Improvements are being made to the game. This week we saw a Version 1.0.1 patch made available. There are no official notes confirming if the overheating issue has been fixed just that “Patch 1.0.1 includes updates to recipes, along with lots of other goodies to help you become a master chef.”

This wild ride may not be over, but hopefully the worst of the odd chaos surrounding this game has passed. One thing is for sure: Cooking Mama does not deserve any of this drama. Let her teach us how to cook in motion-controlled peace.

 

Rating: 5
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Written by Jennifer Burch

Illustrator, designer, writer and big Nintendo geek, you can find Jennifer with an N3DS within reach 24/7. As the oldest of three, she has survived many Mario Party, Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart sessions intact in addition to getting her brothers hooked on some really weird games. (Cubivore anyone?)

Jennifer Burch

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  1. Butch says:

    Quality article!

    Rating: 5
    Reply →