For Christmas this year, I got Personal Trainer: Cooking from my best friend. It was a completely unexpected gift as I hadn’t really talked about it much, I mean I had mentioned it but I never asked for it or anything. I would have never bought it on my own, but I did have a desire to use it. So in essence this was a fairly good gift. After a few months, we’ve tried a few of the recipes and so I thought I’d give it a quick review to tell everyone what I thought about it.
The first thing I noticed was the recipe selection. It had some really out of there recipes that I just couldn’t imagine even remotely being interested in. Maybe this was a result of the fact that this game was global and thus, maybe some of the recipes were geared at a Japanese fare. The one that really caught my eye was Octopus Salad. How in the world would this have been attractive, even easy to cook for the average Joe looking to better their cooking skills?
[amazonify]B001F62U4M:right[/amazonify]But there were some good recipes in there that I think everyone would like, from Risottos, Mac & Cheese, meatloaf, jambalaya, pizzas, and gnocchi. There is certainly a lot to choose from. The first thing that caught our eye was the Mac & Cheese because it is easy, and it is something that both of us can agree that we like if it is good. Plus we needed a good homemade version of the meal. The recipe as it was just wasn’t what we wanted and it did need adjustment. First we had to figure out what kind of cheddar to use, we started with medium which turned out to be too harsh and even mild seems somewhat harsh but not as bad if you get the right brand. The sauce tends to be kind of grainy, we’ve cut the flour in half and it still has its moments of graininess, but I think we’ve found a happy recipe out of it that we both enjoy.
Other recipes haven’t turned out nearly as good. The most disastrous being the minestrone which failed to mention what kind of stock to put in it and so we chose chicken as the most logical stock. This tasted horrible, and it turned out that what we should have added was vegetable broth, not stock at all. Even if it had been the correct broth, I doubt the recipe would have been anything like what we have come to think of minestrone. It honestly didn’t really have much flavor at all to it.
We’ve tried Spanish toast which had good flavor but with the amount of oil you put in the pan and the amount of soaking of the bread, it turns out to be a soggy mess. The Gorgonzola gnocchi wasn’t entirely surprising to me to be disgusting because I don’t like Gorgonzola but I was really hoping for a milder taste to it. Maybe this was a fault of the cheese we selected, but I think it used too much as well. We had a kind of spaghetti that was low on taste, high on spice. And the list goes on like that.
Most of the recipes really have a feel that the software developers just quickly slapped together some recipes and forgot to actually taste them or try them out. They all seem like they are on the correct path, but they don’t quite get there. On some degree I could say that the game is successful in that I actually have to go through the process to figure out how to make these recipes taste good and for that it might actually be a successful trainer. But at the same time, I feel that if they are providing all these recipes, at least some of them should work out of the box.
I do plan on continuing to test the recipes even if we hadn’t had much luck so far. The truth of the matter is that despite being usually flawed, they still have great promise. Finding a decent jambalaya, meat loaf, lasagna, or pizza dough recipe have been long wishes on my list. And there are other recipes that I do have interest in such as the risotto or the Shepard’s pie.
On a note on the interface of the software, I do like how they have the game set up quite a bit. I love that it tells you what you need to do, but I often found that the voice control is far too sensitive so that any bang in the kitchen moved me onto the next stage and I didn’t like that in the least bit so I had to turn it off. I also really like the ability to jot down notes for each recipe as that has been extremely helpful for us remembering things like halve the flour in the mac & cheese. I wish though that they had included a thumbs up and thumbs down option for the recipe so that we can quickly and easily say what we thought of it without jotting down a note, and then this could have also been used to filter out thumbs downs.
Overall, I give this Personal Trainer: Cooking a 4.5 out of 11. I think Nintendo had a really good idea here, people like to cook this could be a great tool for helping you. I also think it was a good idea to finally put a brand on all your casual “brain training” type of games that now include Walking & Math. I just don’t think this one had the execution of their previous attempts into the field. I felt I got value at $19.99 for Brain Training, here I don’t really feel the same value, maybe if it was $9.99 or heck even $14.99, but at its full price I just don’t feel it.