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Overcooked: Special Edition – Nintendo Switch

Overcooked: Special Edition – Nintendo Switch

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Developer: Ghost Town Games

Publisher: Ghost Town Games

Release Date (NA): July 27, 2017

Genre: Simulation, Cooking

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Hello world and welcome to my first Nintendo Switch review – and easily the newest game I have ever reviewed. Why does this matter? It matters because I have yet to actually purchase a Switch, but I did recently get my hands on one at a friend’s house to which I was repeatedly ravaged in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Between my sessions of kart-embarrassment, we played Overcooked: Special Edition, quite extensively actually. To my surprise, it was a wildly frantic yet rewarding experience. When John Whaleford, my friend in Houston, started describing the gameplay, I was immediately struck with horrifying flashbacks as I recalled 15 years of enslaved servitude in the restaurant industry. Among my many restaurant positions was “line cook,” which hands down seems to be the most accurate description of Overcooked: A line-cook simulator video game. You’ll chop onions, you’ll grill steaks, you’ll wash dishes, and you’ll burn down a kitchen, all in a maddening and rage-inducing manner. So what the hell is so fun about simulating something you do in real life that truly sucks ass? I hope you brought a clean plate because Chef Nerdberry is about to serve up a tasty review.

On the surface, Overcooked sounds like a game that’s just okay. It doesn’t quite jump off the page as something you just can’t wait to play – well, not like other Switch games such as Mario Odyssey or Breath of the Wild for example. But under its skin – yes, right there by the ribmeat – is an addicting and flat-out brilliant co-op game with an affinity for chaos and hilarity. The premise is about as basic as it gets, but execution and teamwork is where you’ll earn your tips. You and your friends are cooks operating in a variety of kitchens ranging from a standard pizza kitchen to one on a moving wooden ship with sliding tables and all. As a team, you must retrieve the food, chop the food, cook the food, plate the food, and clean the dishes. In the top left of the screen is a picture of the entree you must make (i.e. hamburger, pizza, etc) and a list of ingredients you must retrieve and piece together to complete the entree allowing you to move onto the next recipe. Simple enough, right? You know what I’m about to say: It’s NOT that simple!

There are numerous challenges you and your coworkers will face throughout a night in the kitchen. One of the most common challenges in a real kitchen is having to work around other cooks. While making your way to the cutting board, you may accidentally bump into your coworker slowing both of you down. This sort of issue is commonplace in real life and in Overcooked. Many real life kitchen struggles surface here lending credence to the game’s definition as a “kitchen simulator.” With this knowledge, let’s get back to my opening-paragraph question: “What the hell is so fun about simulating something you do in real life that truly sucks ass?”

In theory, a kitchen simulator game should NOT be fun. But the type of environment and gameplay the developers created here makes Overcooked one of the most addicting games I have played in quite some time. Navigating the routinely treacherous kitchen stages is arguably the game’s most enjoyable facet. But to quote my co-chef John Willifat from Houston, “I love seeing how quickly something so simple degrades into hilarious chaos.” That sentence alone sums up Overcooked in its entirety. It is meant to be utterly chaotic which is what keeps you laughing and playing over and over.

Aside from choosing a raccoon in a wheelchair as a playable character, the stage variety takes center stage as the deciding chaos-factor for each round. Some stages are absolutely basic and simple and nothing to write home about it, but other stages feel like complete disorder as you and your friends yell at each other on the couch while chucking a head of lettuce across the room. One such stage involves two moving trucks with half a kitchen in each truck. Periodically throughout the timed session the trucks will separate and reconnect forcing you to create a strategy for how you might handle the utter disarray. This is where verbal communication and strategy will be handy.

Being that I have not played Overcooked on any system other than the Switch, I cannot accurately compare this Special Edition to any “standard” edition. But I can say that this game is absolutely perfect for the Switch! I attribute three reasons as to why Overcooked: Special Edition should be considered the definitive version:

  1. The Switch’s canny ability to go from the TV to a portable system.
  2. The fact that the Switch comes standard with 2 controllers in the form of the Joy-Cons that you take everywhere.
  3. Overcooked is an easy pick-up-and-play game best enjoyed in short spurts.

While Overcooked is a downright fun game on its own, the Switch merely enhances the gaming experience for the user. The pick-up-and-play aspect cannot be overstated, especially when you look at what the Switch’s portability can offer you. Imagine yourself between classes at college. You have your Switch in your backpack and you have 45 minutes until your next class. You and a classmate can power on and jump right into a few rounds without needing any sort of debriefing before/after.

One thing that should be noted here is how everybody’s experience will be entirely different. While the game itself is funny and enjoyable, the majority of the excitement and fun comes from the couch you share while you play. This style of play hearkens back to the days of mid/late 90’s party games like Goldeneye 007 and Mario Party: Fun games, yes, but easily most enjoyable with a group of 3 or 4. Overcooked has an intended purpose and structure yet grants enough freedom to allow gamers to create their own strategies and playstyles. Simply put in the most pun-intended way: they give you the ingredients and you cook whatever food you want. Okay that’s not really a pun, it’s just a slightly witty sentence, but I digress. You and a friend can choose to do everything individually, or you can create a strategy where one of you chops food and the other cooks it and cleans dishes…. Until the stage moves, suddenly blocking you from a part of the kitchen, forcing you to communicate and reverse roles. The absolute coolest thing to see, however, is how you will create a system with your friends without even meaning to do so. If you spend enough time playing with someone, you will learn their tendencies, predict their next moves, and perform actions not because you were told to but because you know it needs to be done (like cleaning dishes and getting your friend a clean plate).

The level of polish and stage-ingenuity for such a simple and relatively inexpensive game is fairly unprecedented today. The graphics are simple 3D cartoon-animation style with vividly bright colors and no obvious intention for hyperrealism. Replay value is moderate to moderately high, although it is undeniably a perfect party game to whip out EVERY… SINGLE… PARTY. The controls may require some finagling (and are often the cause for much frustration), but they are sufficient even if they could use some revision in a sequel or large update. And the sound effects are spot on perfect.

Overall, Overcooked is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It is addicting in the sense that you just can’t wait to do better in the next kitchen and hone your skills as a team. The joy of a game like Overcooked is that they create just enough chaos to make it challenging and hilarious without feeling completely lawless. Sometimes it’s tougher than a steak cooked in the back of a cargo truck, but other times it’s as enjoyable as a flame-broiled pizza. Not everyone can embrace the chaos however, like when you play the game with your marital partner; which leads me to my closing statement: Do you ever wonder if divorce is right for you?

Nerd Rating: 9 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry

Nerdberry

What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.

 
 

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One Comment

  1. Hey Chef Nerdberry, great review!

    You’re probably totally right here; the Switch is a lot better suited for this type of game.

    Your review is a lot nicer than mine, haha, but you seem to have enjoyed it a lot more. It’s definitely a great game, no bones about it!

     

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