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Is this the cooking revival the genre needed, or is this just more of the same?
When I first heard the news that Overcooked was making its way to the Switch, I was filled with joy. Not because such a beloved game was making its way to the system, yet rather a game I have never been able to play is making it onto the Switch. It was the perfect scenario as a gamer, playing something never experienced while having the pleasure of taking it on the go. Cooking madness at its best is exactly how the game should be described, and this will undoubtedly hold the top spot in the cooking genre for me. From the outside (and within the first few levels) it seems as though this is going to be your standard cooking experience. You know grabbing the food, cooking it, delivering it, and waiting for the next order. But that is the complete opposite of what Overcooked strives to be. Overcooked is an extremely fast paced cooking experience that even frustrated me at times with just how quickly things happen. The charm is through the roof, especially with the character and level designs. But just how far does cooking madness hold at its $20 price point?
The game is heavily designed around cooperative couch multiplayer to get up to four friends cooking it out and reaching for the three star level goal. Besides the main story quests, the game also has a fun and challenging versus mode. This side mode has players going head to head to compete to create the most food in the time limit. Here is where my biggest concern of the game lies. Playing at it alone as a single-player experience was nearly impossible. Alone you do not have the freedom to try versus mode, as you would need additional friends for it. If you do not have any friends around, the game puts you in control of two characters, where a button press moves you between characters. Which made the game frustrating, and at times I would forgot about the second character because it would take too much time away from cooking. Playing in the handheld did not really help the problem, but it made it easier to switch characters. The significant reason to play alone is managing the amount of points needed to progress. Getting three stars alone will generally be much easier than with about three other people. However, I made sure to group up with a couple friends to attempt to make it through the worlds, which is where my playthrough really shined. With friends the game is smoother, more relaxing, and all around much more enjoyable. Food gets made much quicker, and teamwork is where you will find yourself getting the most done. All levels have a four minute time limit, with action getting so close to the final seconds mark you pray the fish is out of the fryer in time. Intensity of the game is what make it so lovable, as little techniques and tricks allow the player to execute foods seconds faster, which help in the long run. Cleaning plates is also a necessity for the game, where forgetting to clean a plate could ruin your chances of getting a last second order served. Like many similar local co-op games, the game features no online play, which is disappointing yet understandable. Communication is key if you are looking to get things done, and online play would make that difficult.
Overcooked’s controls are very easy to pick up, but take time to master. Style of play varies, as split Joy-Con play is available, as well as the Pro Controller and The Grip. The tutorial is a neat boss battle that introduces the storyline, but it makes sure not to give everything anyway. The story takes you back in-time to before the world was turned to chaos, where it allows you to learn the ropes and techniques to build up to the final boss battle. Level design is another high point of the title. Players start off in just a standard kitchen with no obstacles, as you progress you will end up on an iceberg, where one slip could turn the player and their fresh baked fish into nothing. Levels will sometimes throw you into space where teamwork is diminished due to the layout, other times you may end up in the middle of Bowser’s lava moat with breaking platforms and fire bullets that will send you to your doom. The best levels were the ones that challenged your patience and ability to control your character with ease.
Visually and performance wise I had no problems, the game runs smoothly at 30fps in either manner of play, and I have no complaints in that department. During my playthrough it ran wonderfully. With this port being a Special Edition, the game offers two additional DLC packs to sink your teeth into. The innovation and gimmicks through the extra levels had a lot to offer, so prepare to spend a lot of time digging through all of it.
After all is said and done, is Overcooked the best multiplayer game available on the console? In my experience, yes it is. The innovation and uniqueness of it all tied into a cooking masterpiece makes this a fun game for all ages and gamers alike. It has to be one of the most charming games I have ever had the pleasure of playing, and is one I will make sure to go back to in my free time. Replayablity through this game just works, because there is just so many ways to play the game and get things done. With a variety of foods to cook and characters to discover, Overcooked is worth every penny of its retail price.
Now if you will excuse me I can not afford to leave the meat on the stove, time to run before the fire erupts!
Ali is a news writer for Shigerunews, crime fighter at night and Inkling beast by day. Follow him on Twitter if you dare enter his wicked mind.