If you’ve ever watched any of the dozens of reality cooking shows on TV, you know that life in the kitchen is fast-paced, complicated and stressful. Cook, Serve, Delicious! aims to recreate that feeling of running a restaurant, which is both difficult and strangely addictive. The sequel offers a significantly different experience by placing you in the role of “Chef for Hire” where you lend your talents to over 30 restaurants featuring food ranging from greasy hot dogs and burgers to high end Asian and seafood.
The new direction in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is a vast change from the original. The game consists of what are essentially challenge levels based around the theme of the restaurant. Each new location has 10-15 levels of increasing difficulty to tackle. Difficulty comes in the form of more menu items that customers can order and more overall customers you can have at once. The easiest levels will offer three different menu items and six slots for customer orders, while the most difficult levels will challenge you with 6 menu items, usually of higher complexity and up to twelve customers at once. In other words, it can get pretty hectic.
The flow of Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! has not changed much in the sequel. Orders come in, you select them and start cooking. Each food item is different, some being as simple as putting ketchup and mustard on a corn dog while others are complicated, such as pizza which offers a variety of sauces and crust types in addition to about a dozen different toppings. Every item is customized to the customer, meaning you must read the description and make sure you don’t mess up. You are also running up against the clock; customers that will eventually leave if they don’t get their food in time.
A new, cool addition to Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is the idea of holding stations. In the original, every item was made to order. Now you have certain foods that can be prepped beforehand. You can have hot dogs, chicken strips, slices of pie and more available to be served the second customers order them. Some of these items require no extra work and those orders can be filled instantly if you have them ready. Others, such as hamburgers, mean you don’t have to wait for the patty to cook, you can instantly go in and top it and serve it to the customer. Holding stations also add another layer of strategy to manage. You definitely don’t want to find yourself mid-dinner rush out of items, suddenly having to either cook each one individually or stop and refill your holding stations.
The action of cooking and serving customers has evolved to be a little more streamlined in Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! There were 30 different types of food and drinks in the original game and you cooked them through a combination of arrow keys and letter keys. In the sequel there are over 180 items and input has been brought down to just letter keys, doing away with motions all together. This is slightly disappointing but seems like a necessary sacrifice, allowing the new items to be more complex and involved than the original game.
The game tries its best to map ingredients to the matching letter (L for lettuce, T for tomato, etc.) but when you start getting ingredients with the same starting letter it starts to get more complicated (C for Cheese, H for Chili, etc.). With 180 different types of food, you also end up with situations where the letter for a specific ingredient might be different depending on what else the recipe could call for. Sometimes Chocolate is C, sometimes chocolate is H if there is C is already used, such as in Cannoli. At times Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! almost feels like playing a typing game, which is either a good or bad thing depending on how good your keyboard skills are.
If you are not feeling the keyboard, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! also offers full controller support. Instead of mapping ingredients to matching letters, the UI is mapped to YXBA and you use LT and RT to access either the right 4 ingredients or the left 4 ingredients. You end up memorizing the order ingredients appear in the recipe to hit the corresponding button. Playing with a controller feels like a totally different experience but I still think keyboard is the way to go. There is also mouse support and touch support, leaving many options of how to run your restaurant.
A new addition to Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is full local cooperative play. Two players can work together to tackle the challenge of feeding the masses, with each player having full control over the kitchen. While this creates another layer of chaos it definitely helps to lessen the stress. One player can focus on orders while the other refills holding stations or takes care of the various chores. It’s a really good addition and implemented well.
My only minor disappointment with Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! is in how the game progresses. The original game had you growing your restaurant from the ground up, with the goal of becoming a five-star restaurant. You created the menu every day, you purchased fancier foods and upgraded your various appliances over the course of your playthrough. This entire experience is essentially absent from the sequel, with instead of focus on playing through the various themed restaurant’s challenges. They did add in a “custom restaurant” mode where you can set your own menu but you will still need to play the challenges to unlock décor for your restaurant as well as new food items.
Despite the departure of not really making your own restaurant, Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! still manages to be a ridiculously fun game. I find tackling the various themed restaurants extremely addicting, leading to many late nights where I just wanted to play “one more level” or keep playing a level until I got a perfect day. When things are rolling and you are filling orders like crazy, you almost enter a trance-like state where you are operating purely from muscle memory and reaction time, something that few games can boast. It’s a fantastic experience that I highly recommend.
SCORE: 8.5 out of 10
A review copy of Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!! was provided to Pixel Related for review.