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GAME REVIEWS: Three new games put you in shoes of a chef

For decades, gamers have battled space aliens, street gangs, and big, bad sports opponents. But now they face what could be the biggest challenger of them all: the kitchen.

Majesco has introduced not one, but three games centered around cooking. Who knew that the hottest new genre of gaming would be in the culinary department?

"Cooking Mama: Cook Off" uses the Nintendo Wii's interactive stick controllers to mimic slicing, dicing, opening cans, mashing potatoes, handling a pan, and more. "Cooking Mama" for the Nintendo DS features similar activity, but uses the dual-screened handheld's touch display and stylus to control your actions.

Then there's "Cake Mania," in which you play a gal with a startup bakery. It's more time-oriented, with the challenge of feeding customers and getting their orders right. Think '80s arcade favorite "Tapper," but with cakes.

My favorite of the bunch is the original "Cooking Mama" for the portable DS. It's quick, easy, and fun. The game reacts well to the stylus input, whether it's acting as your hand adding ingredients to a meatloaf, cracking eggs, or stirring a pot.

"Cook Off" for the Wii is a little more difficult to control, but it's fun, too -- especially in the two-player battle mode. Yes, you can finally have an Iron Chef competition in your own home.

Just be prepared to be a little frustrated when it comes to movements like peeling potatoes. There is a certain exhilaration, however, in chopping vegetables quickly with your knife ... er, controller.

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