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Coco Curry House Ichiban-Ya

If you watched Hell's Kitchen, you know a bit about Gordon Ramsay. He's the culinary equivalent of Simon Cowell, with a red-hot chilli pepper stuck up his ass.

Ramsay's show was pretty much 'Big Brother Inna Kitchen' in which he does his best to piss off minor celebrities while they try to cook dinner. The show was crap, but if you ever wanted to know how stressful it is to run your own restaurant, in particular one that sells curry by the lorry-load, CoCo Curry House is here to show you.

We got this one in because it's called CoCo Curry House. It's very much as expected - a brightly coloured, very Japanese and of course curry-flavoured experience. Strange it may be when compared to what you'd usually find on the UK high street, but then you never thought you'd get hooked on The Sims, did you? Just like curry, we think the appeal of this game could be universal.


Working In Currys
You've just been hired to work as a chef in the CoCo Curry House. You'll be serving up food from now on, and rewarded for your skill. Since this is a Japanese curry house, you must be very polite to your customers as they arrive and leave - very important that. A waitress cheerfully darts about the restaurant taking orders, zapping the details to you from her high-tech notepad. It starts off simple with heaps of rice and ladles of curry; teaching you the basic skills of scooping by twirling the right analog stick, and pouring by leaning the stick on its side. The techniques cleverly match the actions required in real life. Sort of.

Things get trickier as drops of chilli oil (tap the stick) and fried toppings are added. Then the essential "Welcome to our shop" greeting (press L2), and "Thank you very much" farewell (R2) must be juggled between serving dishes. You're at the top of your game when you can get every cooked item to finish in time to serve up several dishes in succession, rewarding you with 'combos' and 'chains' similar to most puzzle games. And just like those games, the routine becomes very addictive.

The verdict

We expected this to be terrible. Instead it's a very clever and enjoyable single-player challenge that's as fun to watch as it is to play. Cool and cute.

PlayStation 2