Although the Cooking Mama series is mainly devoted to preparing food, its controversy is not entirely unknown. The series attracted attention outside of its casual target group in the late 2000s through criticism from the animal rights organization Peta. The organization ruled that meat consumption and animal suffering would be downplayed. In response to Cooking Mama, Peta programmed an unauthorized version of the title, which bears the catchy name Cooking Mama: Mama kills Animals, is still playable on the corresponding homepage today and is intended to deter meat and meat preparation.

The (then) North American publisher of the series, Majesco, announced in return that the amount of vegetarian dishes would increase significantly in the next part. But that was already the case with "scandals" surrounding the cute and colorful game of skill games. At least until spring 2020.







Cooking Mama scandal: Cookstar - the mystery behind the cooking game (1)



Cooking Mama scandal: Cookstar – the mystery behind the cooking game (1)

Source: Planet Entertainment




Cooking Mama is not a series in which the whole gambler nervously scratches its hooves until a new part is finally announced or appears. Nevertheless, the games have their fans and they were looking forward to Cooking Mama: Cookstar (buy now for € 39.79). But from the beginning: The cornerstone of the cute series was laid in Japan in 2006. The debut was programmed on the DS by Office Create. It was not only very well received by the players, but was also praised by critics. Until then, the small team had not created a similarly successful product, which is why they proudly decided to change the name of the studio. Since then, Office Create has been officially called Cooking Mama Limited, but the old name is still in use. As long as the DS flourished, Cooking Mama belonged to the repertoire of the handheld with the double screen: No wonder, the game principle with chopping, cutting and stirring while cooking uses the touchscreen control perfectly! It is not surprising that the Wii and 3DS also enjoyed sequels and spin-offs. Up until 2011, the Mama-Masche ran excellently with two games each year. No game in the series appeared in 2012, then a sequel in 2013 and 2014. Since then, however, only one title has been published with Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop (3DS, 2017) and some people were surprised: What is actually going on with the Mama series ?







A specialty of Cookstar is the so-called unicorn food: these are dishes with a rainbow color, like this strange bread topping.



A specialty of Cookstar is the so-called unicorn food: these are dishes with a rainbow color, like this strange bread topping.

Source: Planet Entertainment




In August 2019, the fans' worries finally seemed to be dispelled. Cooking Mama: Cookstar was announced, at that time still under the title Cooking Mama: Coming Home to Mama. And not only switch fans should get their money's worth, but also Playstation players! An unexpected innovation, since the series has been native to Nintendo platforms since its birth and apart from that, it was only present on mobile devices. In addition, according to the announcement on board: a co-op mode, the possibility to share photos of the dishes on in-game social media and a vegetarian mode in which no meat products are used for cooking. Not only the organization Peta tasted the impressions of the new part of the series!

After that, months passed without new information about Cooking Mama being released to the public. The game was supposed to be released in spring 2020, but suddenly it was available for purchase in the Nintendo eShop at the end of March, without notice, without reporting (not in the Playstation Store, mind you). A few hours later, it was removed without a word, just like the matching info page in the shop. Not only this fact confused the players, an unbelievable-sounding conspiracy theory suddenly spread: allegedly there is a program hidden in the code that uses the console's unused computing power to execute blockchains and thus to mine cryptocurrency (such as Bitcoin)! Some of the few users who could buy and download the game reported that the switch became unusually hot while playing and used a lot of battery. Is it because mining processes are running in the background? These rumors spread like wildfire, the developers 1stPlayable denied the use of blockchain technology on Twitter shortly afterwards.

No digging, no plan







Rumors are spreading: Word is spreading online that Cookstar is mining cryptocurrency in the background. However: this is not true.



Rumors are spreading: Word is spreading online that Cookstar is mining cryptocurrency in the background. However: this is not true.

Source: PC Games (screenshot)




The fact that these rumors came about is due to the communication of the Cooking Mama publisher: Cookstar. Planet Entertainment pointed out in a press release announcing the game in August 2019 that it wanted to integrate blockchain technology into the game. It wasn't until early April that the publisher made it clear what it meant: they were considering using this technology to enable trading between players. But it never migrated into the code and there was no trace of cryptocurrency in Cooking Mama. Ingenious programmers preferred to convince themselves of this, took apart the code of the game and were able to confirm: no blockchain in Cooking Mama.






<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/430x/2020/06/Cooking_Mama_Cookstar_Reportage_2020.06.03-7–buffed.jpg" alt = "Cooking Mama: Playful is more than half-baked than tasted good.
In any case, the game did not really suit the owners of the brand.”/>



Cooking Mama is playful: Cookstar is half cooked rather than seasoned.
In any case, the game did not really suit the owners of the brand.

Source: Planet Entertainment




As the icing on the cake, an alleged employee of the development team anonymously commented on the allegations to the Screenrant website. He didn't talk around the bush and explained the scandal with ignorance and incompetence on the part of the publisher and studio: "The statements about cryptocurrency were just phrase thrashing. The head of Planet Entertainment knows very little about such things … he only used keywords, to find potential investors who like this stuff. Regarding the crashes / overheating: This comes from the Unity engine used and from the fact that it was the first game for many employees … it may not be the best product , but it came through the rigorous testing processes of Nintendo and Sony. It’s impossible to cheat cryptocurrency through these tests unnoticed. I doubt anyone at 1P would be able to do anything like that. "







No trace of Cooking Mama on the official website of Ravenscourt, the publisher indicated on the graphics of the packshots.



No trace of Cooking Mama on the official website of Ravenscourt, the publisher indicated on the graphics of the packshots.

Source: PC Games (screenshot)




So much for cryptocurrency – but why was the game put online just to disappear shortly afterwards? The anonymous source also has something to say about this: "There is a legal dispute between the publisher Planet Entertainment and the rights holder Office Create. Planet Entertainment published the game against the will of Office Create, who believed that it needed to be improved or even canceled will." There was too little communication between publisher and rights holder, the informant said. This statement by the alleged developer was posted on April 6, 2020, on the Screenrant website. A few hours later, the Cooking Mama: Cookstar account posted on Twitter that the game's disappearance from the shop was due to the fact that the world is known to be upside down at the moment and there are therefore some shifts. So is the corona virus to blame for the misery? Probably not. Let's take a closer look at Planet Entertainment, which is probably behind Cookstar's Twitter account.

Who is Planet Entertainment?







Cooking Mama: Cookstar stands out among the niche titles of Planet Entertainment. This is a screenshot of the publisher’s website.



Cooking Mama: Cookstar stands out among the niche titles of Planet Entertainment. This is a screenshot of the publisher’s website.

Source: PC Games (screenshot)




The publisher Planet Entertainment has been active since 2018. In addition to Cooking Mama, his software portfolio is also at home Cabela's the Hunt: Championship Edition the best-known brand, otherwise there are switch games of the category "also ran" such as Party Arcade or Snow Motor Racing Freedom. The news section of the Planet Entertainment website is empty, there is no information about the location of the publisher or the like. In the LinkedIn job network, on the other hand, you will find what you are looking for: The private company is based in Fairfield, Connecticut, has five employees and lives in a pretty property, which on Google Maps looks more like an apartment building. On YouTube, on the other hand, you can find the profile of a slide and bouncy castle rental under Planet Entertainment. The company also has no presence on Twitter, but instead posted its official statement on the disputes with the rights holders on Cookstar's Twitter account.

In this statement, Planet Entertainment (including typing errors) stated, among other things, that Planet Entertainment and Studio 1st Playable adhered exactly to the requirements of the rights holder and implemented many Office Create suggestions. Shortly before the game was completed, there were creative differences. To fix this was outside of the contractual agreements and also contradicted the previously specified requirements for the game principle. The contract stipulates that Planet Entertainment is completely right to publish the game without Office Create's consent.






<img src = "https://www.gamesaktuell.de/screenshots/430x/2020/06/Cooking_Mama_Cookstar_Reportage_2020.06.03-5–buffed.jpg" alt = "As a new feature in Cookstar you can take photos of your creations with a
Add filters and upload them to a fictitious social network.”/>



As a new feature in Cookstar, you can take photos of your creations with a
Add filters and upload them to a fictitious social network.

Source: Planet Entertainment




Office Create, the creators of Cooking Mama, obviously see it differently. For this reason, the game disappeared from the eShop within a few hours: Office Create have good contacts with the publisher and developer giant Nintendo due to the long-term cooperation. The Switch group promptly complied with the request to remove the product that Office Create had licensed to Planet Entertainment, but with which it was so dissatisfied, from the online shop, and the production of the cartridges was also allegedly frozen. Planet Entertainment responded by calling on fans to purchase the game through their own retail store. Because some batches of the physical version have already been produced, which is why it is still possible to order the game from various providers.

These versions may even be worth something in the future, depending on whether Cooking Mama: Cookstar is officially released again. In any case, Office Create decided to take Planet Entertainment to court, and as we know, it can take quite a while. The anonymous source also had something to say about the details of the clash between Planet Entertainment and the rights holders: "At one point, Official (sic) Create customers came to oversee development work. A dispute broke out and they said customers should go home if they don't act constructively. "

Due to the confused distribution, reviews of the game only gradually rolled in through April. Looking at the average rating of 46% fun on Metacritic, it suggests that Office Create rightly called for improvements to the game before the release. There is a lot to complain about, such as the bad setting, the boring multiplayer games, the boring single player mode, the lousy movement control and the game principle without any depth. In most cases, the testers bought the game themselves, since apparently no press samples were sent out. With all the misery, the programmers are less guilty. 1P was probably overwhelmed with the project – the team was primarily responsible for simple VR storybook fairy tales, educational games, AR apps and similar small projects. The feedback from Office Create was apparently no longer wanted by the publisher Planet Entertainment and the further investment of resources in Cookstar was not. The players and fans who may not be able to get to the game now, and even if they get hold of a version, are probably not happy with the quality.

Two questions remain: What happens to Cookstar and what about the Playstation version? The first point will only be clarified in the next few months, while the second is the answer significant, but in keeping with the behavior of Planet Entertainment. A release for Sony's PS4 did not appear to have been agreed with Office Create or released. The picture of the game case with the PS4 logo was probably only used to attract attention and interest. However, the anonymous developer – if he is real – said that the game had also been presented to Sony. So maybe Cookstar will be released on PS4 someday, unless a court creates a clear front with a judgment. In any case, we would not have thought that the umpteenth part of a harmless, average series like Cooking Mama would attract so much attention in 2020 – however, 2020 generally does not work as most of us would have imagined.

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