Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Personal Trainer: Cooking - Nintendo DS
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on December 1, 2008
Personal Trainer: Cooking is a great purchase for those of us who are either relatively inexperienced in cooking, or just looking for fun and tasty recipes to make at home. Someone with much more experienced (as already mentioned by a previous reviewer) will most likely find the recipes basic, however.

The game itself is a great cookbook purchase: Some technologies are just lazy while others are highly convenient. The voice recognition makes it very easy to move back and forth and get more information even while your hands are busy or covered with dough, though it can be frustrating that it tends to recognized many louder noises as a voice command - during one recipe I had it repeat and move back a step dozens of times after a plate would clink or the refrigerator would be closed.
If you like to prepare on your own, you can start the recipe steps at the cooking portion so that you don't have to go through ten extra preparation steps.

"Cooking A-Z" includes a lot of information especially useful for beginners. Preparation terms, vocabulary, ingredients, cooking utensils, possible substitutions, etc are explained briefly, and a selection of "how-to" videos are included. There are recipes for homemade ingredients to use in recipes, such as stock and pizza dough.

The recipes themselves (245 of them) can be searched by keyword, ingredients, country, type of dish... It's very easy to find what you would like to make, and the recipes vary from very simplistic and almost obvious to slightly more advanced. All information is given and a timer is included as well - preset to the necessary time. The shopping list is not the most convenient - this is one of the things in the game that is better off written down as long as nothing is forgotten: the shopping list is out of order and can be hard to go through if you have more than one recipe's worth put down. There is no way to delete ingredients from the shopping list - you simply check them off and they remain on the list for awhile with just a red x.

I would definitely recommend this to the beginner cook or someone cooking with younger children. Most cookbooks come in at around $20 anyway, and Personal Trainer: Cooking contains not only a good amount of recipes, but of variation as well. It is a wonderful introduction whether headed in a serious direction, or just looking for family dinners to prepare.
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on December 5, 2008
This game (if you can call it a game) is very user-friendly. It's easy to navigate and responds to voice commands nicely.

The recipes range from unique to the yummy simpler foods.

There is also a handy little feature that lets you select what ingredients (i.e. onions, pork, curry, etc...) you don't like.

The recipes are super easy to follow, too. I'm looking forward to letting the two boys I take care of (11 and 13) use this game/cookbook to whip something up all on their own. With my supervision of course. ;)
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on December 9, 2008
I love cooking, and I love cooking gadgets so I had to pick this up. :D

I'm really amazed by the detail in this game, honestly. There are lists of ingredients in case you aren't sure what something is, there are these cute little how-to videos on certain subjects, there are whole glossaries about preparation, tools, etc.

I also love that you can preview every step in a recipe before you decide on it. And that they don't use illustrations! There are real pictures for every step for every recipe! :D Plus, there is a clear ingredient list and utensil list for every recipe, plus tips and advice.

There's also a menu where you can omit anything ingredients you don't eat - you can then choose to have those recipes not show up at all when searching, or you can simply mark them so you know they contain something you're not okay with. Great for finicky eaters or those with food allergies. :)

On the opposite side, you can also perform a search for ingredients you want in a recipe. You can also search for recipes based on cooking times, calories, difficulty, and cooking method. You can also search by country - there are different recipes from all over the world!

And you can write notes about the recipes you make and search that way as well.

You can also change the number of servings you want to make - up to 6. And the calories for recipes are listed.

All in all, I am very impressed. I've been having cooking classes with some friends and I think I'll have to show them this - I really think it'll help. I'm also hoping to get a few meals out of the boyfriend - it's so easy and there are so many pictures, I really don't know that you could mess up! :D
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on February 5, 2009
I was really excited about getting this "game" as I love to cook and wanted to try it out. There are some very interesting recipes available, however a good number of them are exotic and if I even wanted to try to cook them I could never find the ingredients (i.e. Squid in Ink sauce). I'm a pretty adventurous eater and cook and there honestly aren't alot of these recipes that I could say I'd ever make more than once. I definitely think they could have used more variety in their recipe selection.

My major problem with the game, and the one that has me considering either sending it back or selling it online is the fact that when you are cooking the voice recognition picks up other sounds and starts freaking out skipping back and forth through the steps at every clank of a bowl or chop of a knife. Every time I'd get done with one step I'd have to go search for where I was in the recipe.

I do have to say however that the recipe I made turned out great (Chicken Marengo), if the rest of them turn out as good as the first it might be worth keeping even with the overwhelming flaws.
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on January 10, 2009
Personal Trainer Cooking is a really cool game. The recipes are very interesting and the food comes out pretty well, and there are a lot of ethnic recipes, organized by country, or ingredient. The instructions are very clear and easy to follow, and the spoken instructions are easy to understand. With almost 250 recipes, there's really something for everyone.

There are two big problems with the game though. First is the microphone integration. When you're doing the cooking, you can use voice commands to go through the steps. The problem is the mic is so hyper-sensitive on this game, that anything, and I mean *ANYTHING*, will make the game continue to the next step (a jar on the counter, a bag rustling, washing something, using a tenderizer, etc). You literally have to whisper if you're cooking with someone, and everything must be done so quietly that it's just impossible. I recommend turning the mic setting off from the get-go in the settings menu.

The other flaw, is that a few of the ingredients are not easy to find in your normal supermarket, especially for the Asian recipes. If you're fortunate enough to live in an area with specialized ethnic supermarkets, then it's fine, but if you live anywhere outside a large metro-area, it's very difficult to find some of the ingredients.
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Personal Trainer: Cooking can hardly be described as a game, yet this program is by far one of the best I have found for the DS. I use my DS mostly for quiz and trivia games, though I do often play more traditional games with my nieces and nephews. This is really in a class by itself. What the game lacks in traditional play, it more than makes up for in usefulness.

As somebody who loves to cook, I was intrigued when I saw that this game was coming out. I was able to buy a couple so that I could give one as a gift and keep a copy for myself. I am very glad that I did. I have played it several times over the past few months and I think it's only going to help me learn more new recipes as I keep using it.

This is a perfect tool for one of two groups, those who are trying to learn more about cooking, and those who want a tool to help them prepare meals. This game will likely get used for longer intervals than most DS games. Most recipes take at least 30 - 45 minutes to prepare. Using this program is a lot easier than reading recipes from a book.

PLAY MODES AND OPTIONS

I really love this game's simple no-nonsense structure. There are no excessive intro segments. If you want additional information you will have to navigate to it yourself.

The structure of the program is very simple. When you first turn it on, you are given 4 choices.

1. Recipes: This is the heart of the game. It includes many recipes sorted either by country, ingredients or other requirements based upon your selection. You can also search for recipes by keyword and it will track how many of them you have cooked. If you choose to "view all," it says there are 245 recipes.

2. Cooking A-Z: This is a "how-to" section that has a few main parts
a. Sections on cooking basics like ingredients, substitutes, utensils, preparation, and cooking techniques.
b. A "helpful tips" section that contains several dozen general hints
c. A "terminology" section for looking up cooking terms
d. An "important points" section, which outlines some basics specific to the software, such as how recipes are written for servings and caloric values
e. A collection of "example videos" which you can use if you want to see a technique you plan to use.

3. Shopping List: This area will collect the list of items you need to buy in order to prepare recipes you have selected from the recipe section. There is even a calculator to approximate the cost.

4. Settings: This section is also packed with a lot. You can:
a. Select which ingredients to exclude (for example, if you are allergic to them or simply don't like certain things)
b. Change the voice used for the chef during your recipes
c. Change the music to always play, not play while cooking or never play
d. Set the Voice input (if you want to disable the default "continue" command that will move the recipe forward to the next step)
e. Test the microphone (if you are having trouble with your "continue" commands, this will give you a visual read-out so you know how loud to speak)
f. Delete the user data in the game
g. Set the Kitchen Timer: this is a useful tool. When the time you set runs down, it will alert you with a beep and a voice prompt, "Time's Up!"

COOKING WITH THE GAME

For each recipe, when you select it from the list you have two options:
1. info, which includes basics such as calories, cooking time and country of origin; and
2. details, which includes background information on the recipe.

When you select a recipe by clicking "OK," a "Tips and Advice" page pops up to explain what preparation or other steps aren't included in the cooking time as well as other tips. If you click the smiley face, you can write notes for each recipe. You can also come back to this screen to indicate if it's a "favorite".

There are three steps for each recipe: view ingredients, view the cooking steps, and cook. The first two steps also include descriptions of which utensils you will need for handling the ingredients required for the recipe.

But when you actually launch a recipe, you will be guided through each step by the chef's voice prompt and written on screen instructions. You need not worry about touching the DS as you're cooking; it will move to the next step just by your voice prompt, "Continue!" You can also order it to "Repeat" the steps or go back to the "Last Step."

As you work through the steps, from preparation to cooking, the game will keep track of your progress until you are finally done. Once you complete a recipe, it will time-stamp the date and keep a record of what you made. In that way, you can work through recipes by country or any other way that you choose.

CONS

The only minor cons to note is that you have to select ingredients individually for them to show up in your shopping list, and the DS microphone requires you to speak loudly to register. While sometimes the microphone can be confused by your prep sounds, you can just disable the voice prompts. I don't consider this a major con, though I had no problem with my microphone. If anything my microphone was less sensitive than I would have liked. I think it may depend on how well cared-for your DS hardware is.

It is true that many of these recipes are exotic, but most ingredients can be had in a specialty market. This is clearly geared towards adults who want to learn a wide variety of recipes. I do not think most people would need a game like this to guide them through common recipes. But if you want a more kid-friendly cooking game or more basic recipes get Cooking Mama or Cooking Mama 2 instead.

CONCLUSION

This is one of those programs that you can enjoy even if you only use it once in a while to prepare new recipes. I can also see this game getting used a lot more by a beginner who wants to read and study all the tips. So this is a great game to give as a gift to an aspiring or an experienced cook alike.

Enjoy.
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on December 21, 2008
I remember seeing this in Japanese a few years ago and wished that they would release this here and to my surprise they did!

This has been one of my most fav. purchases for my DS. $20 for about 250 recipes is better than what you get with some cooking books. I love how you can adjust the proportions and it does the math for you and that you can look up recipes with ingredients you have or want. The Chef is delightful and easy to understand when he tells you the steps for cooking. Also, the variety of recipes is fantastic! Everything that I've made so far is something I never thought I'd make or make in a certain way. Each meal turned out wonderful and even my husband was impressed by how good everything came out. My husband even tried cooking himself and had fun time cooking! I hope Nintendo continues to put out more cooking "games" like this.

Now onto some of the cons. I'm not sure if it's my old original DS, but the mic picks up too much background noise and often the Chef will continue to the next step or go back. I turned off the voice recognition option, but I will try it again with a DSLite. Also, since this came from Japan, a lot of the asian recipes call for asian type ingredients like seaweed and such. These ingredients are sometimes hard to find if you don't live near an asian market. Which is a shame, since a lot of those recipes look delicious.

Once again, great job Nintendo!!

now lets hope they bring some of those DS stands here to make looking at the DS easier while cooking; )
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on December 3, 2008
I just received mines yesterday and I really bought it for my husband so he can make some good dishes for me but now that I have it we might have to share it because all of the recipes look so good I cannot wait to try them all. It's like having the Food Network in your hands.
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on December 16, 2008
I'll admit I don't like to cook much and make the same old things.

This addition to the DS's abilities is quite nice. You can learn how to cook a whole meal step by step right there in the kitchen. Has a wide variety of choices and shows and spells evey step out.

My one recomendation is if you tend to drop or spill things sit the DS above your work area. If on counter put a saran wrap over it to keep it from damage due to spills.
I think even flour getting in it would be a bad thing.

I highly recommend this to cooks and non cooks alike. It makes cooking fun.
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on April 25, 2009
I have a pretty big library of DS games, but I also like exploring the non-game titles for the DS. And Personal Trainer: Cooking is definitely the best non-game title I've seen for the DS or for any game console.

I'm a reasonable home kitchen chef; I've mastered basic kitchen techniques and can make most recipes without destroying them. So I wasn't so much looking for cooking instruction as much as I was a nice collection of recipes and the novelty of cooking to a videogame chef. But I was nevertheless really impressed by this title.

First of all, the selection of recipes is really good. The game has nearly 250 recipes, covering the gamut from main dishes, to side dishes, to desserts. The selection is very international in nature; in fact, the game has a giant map of the world that you can drag about, point at countries, and see the dishes from each country. The recipe selection is in some ways a "greatest hits" list of world cuisine. The biggest concentration of recipes rests with China, France, and Italy, all with around 30 recipes each.

Second of all, the recipes are very tasty. The very first recipe I made, a Greek beef stew, was totally delicious. Now, about 20 recipes later, I can say that none of them have been failures, and many have been downright stellar. I've made a Spanish chicken dish, and an Italian stuffed peppers recipe that were absolutely fantastic.

Third, the quality of the instruction is excellent. The onscreen "Chef" walks you through each recipe, one step at a time. You can view all the steps in advance if you'd like, so that you know where the dish is heading. But each recipe follows a general format of doing the prep work (cutting, slicing) up front, followed by the actual cooking phase where you cook over the stove or in the oven. You can check off which ingredients you need, and the game will build up a shopping list, so you can take the DS to the store with you.

I find the best use of the game is to answer the question "What's for dinner?" Even though I can prepare a decent meal, I'm always bereft of ideas and I'm terrible at meal planning. Personal Trainer: Cooking is surprisingly good at addressing this problem. I can leave work, with my DS in my commuter bag, drop in at the grocery store, choose a recipe from the DS, buy the necessary ingredients, then go home and make it.

Some observations about the game. Since the game is a localization of a Japanese title, a few of the recipes, and sometimes the names of some of the ingredients, are a little different than what we're used to in the USA. Try making the Chili Con Carne recipe and you'll see what I mean. Even though it's a tasty recipe, it's produced more like a stew than a thick, simmered soup. And the Jambalaya recipe calls for squid rather than ham/pork, which form the basis for most versions of Jambalaya I've seen. And some recipes call for whole chicken legs. A whole chicken leg is equivalent to a thigh and a drumstick, typically sold as separate pieces in grocery stores. But I take that in stride.

Secondly, the recipes are a little skewed towards stovetop preparations. There's not a a lot of baking going on here. Again, this might be reflecting the tastes and preferences of the Japanese audience the title was originally produced for.

Finally, though the game allows you to check off recipes as "favorites", I'd like a way to build a list of "recipes I want to try next". Because there's so many of them!
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