America’s Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking is not a
really videogame, but more an interactive, multimedia cookbook ready to walk you
and your family through more than 300 recipes. Based off Nintendo’s Personal
Trainer series, ATK is branded after the popular public television cooking
program of the same name, and recipes featured are similar to those one might
find on the program. While the original title was strictly a solo affair,
this new edition emphasizes the whole family to pitch in and help craft
delicious dishes. You can create a profile for each member of your family, and
will assign each helper an age-appropriate task to perform for an excellent
educational and bonding family activity.
I took my Nintendo DS into the
kitchen, flipped it on, and began searching through recipes to make a little
something for lunch.
One of the great features of this piece of software is the ability to search its
bank of recipes by what you have on hand in the kitchen. For those with
allergies or dietary restrictions, there is also an option to filter recipes out
by food, too. Since I had a pound of ground hamburger in the fridge, I did a
quick search and came up with a tasty-looking recipe for sloppy Joes, or “Untidy Josephs” as my late grandfather used to call them,
With my planned recipe in tow (or in this case, hands) the
game presented me with some basic information about the meal. Prep and cook time
was estimated at 30 minutes, and it would make four servings at 400 calories per
serving. Next I was presented with a list of not just all required
ingredients, but also required utensils, and then an overview of the steps
required for making the loose-meat sandwiches. America’s Test Kitchen features
a handy “shopping list” option as well, to which you can add ingredients to buy
on the next trip to the grocery store.
After verifying I had all the
necessary ingredients, I began following the step-by-step instructions as I
chopped onions, heated a pan with oil, minced garlic, and then began sautéing
the onions over medium-high heat. The title also comes packaged
with helpful tutorial videos to assist any inexperienced cooks with preparation
and other useful basic information. For example, one
video tutorial in my recipe showed the proper way to heat a pan for sautéing.
might sound routine, but for someone who needs the assistance, it could be an
Cooking can be a messy experience where one really gets their hands dirty, so
the DS offers a useful voice-activated navigation system while cooking.
While actual commands are limited to simple words and phrases like "Continue" or
"Go Back", it did respond well enough to my voice as I cooked, but occasionally
picked up every noise it heard in the kitchen. Although I was unable to
test the new hardware in time for this review, colleagues tell me the improved
audio capabilities of the larger-screened Nintendo DSi XL would likely help
alleviate much of the outside noise issues.
II continued on through the
recipe, adding chili powder, browning the hamburger, adding tomato puree, water,
ketchup, salt and pepper. By this time smell of sautéed onions and garlic
had attracted the attention of family members, and after just 26 minutes from
start to finish, we sat down together to enjoy some very delicious Untidy
America’s Test Kitchen: Let's Get Cooking offers a more
comprehensive experience than the original
Personal Trainer Cooking release,
with more recipes, features, and even new new emphasis on group cooking, and it
isn't difficult to imagine some great family time thanks to this software.
While some fans of the original title may be disappointed in the lack of new
international dishes to choose from here, the multitude of delicious American
dishes - along with some notable exceptions - and considerably larger selection
of new recipes more than make up for the lack of international options. An
absolute purchase for anyone looking to expand their cooking knowledge, or share
it with others.