Platforms: Wii, PC, Mac, Nintendo DS
Release date: 9/9
Demanding, foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsey has successful TV shows on both sides of the pond and some equally successful restaurants (one of which was in the lobby of the Ubisoft party’s hotel). Now the combative Brit has his own video game, a restaurant simulation that puts you through the same hell that Gordo puts his hapless apprentices through every week.
Hell’s Kitchen is played on two screens. You start in the massive main seating area with one waiter to serve your customers. When diners arrive, you must greet them at the maître’d station by clicking on a glowing lamp. The customers move to a table and take menus. When they put the menus down, you take their orders by clicking on their table. This shoots their orders to the kitchen, which is the other venue in the game.
In the kitchen, you are given the basic ingredients for the dishes ordered by the customers, and you must add the correct ingredients to the cooking pans on the stove in front of you. Each dish takes a different length of time to cook; your objective is to add the ingredients so that the dishes you prepare finish cooking as close to the same time as possible. Countdown timers are placed next to each dish to help you plan your strategy.
Once all of your dishes are finished cooking, you switch back to the dining room, click on the food plates so that the waiter can serve them, and wait for the diners to finish eating and have the waiter give them their checks. While all of this is going on, Ramsey’s voice can be heard commenting on your performance (or lack of it). As each day goes by, things get busier at the restaurant. Customer traffic increases, as does the variety of dishes on the menu, so that eventually you start to feel like the doomed bartender in the old arcade classic Tapper. If you can keep up, you might even get (gulp) a compliment from Ramsey! It might only be “Not bad!” or “I’m a happy man,” but it makes the effort worthwhile—and it’s a whole lot more than those poor saps on the TV shows get.
I had a chance to play Hell’s Kitchen on the Wii, and it’s surprisingly addicting. Once I figured out the controls (no wagging necessary on the Wiimote), I managed to stay ahead of the customers enough to get several four-star ratings (out of five) from old Gordon, whose trademark profanities are blanked out, both aurally and visually (a fuzzy oval shape covers his lips when he curses). If you can avoid throwing stuff at the TV or your PC monitor when Ramsey speaks, you’ll get a kick out of Hell’s Kitchen.
Other notable games shown at the event include:
Rayman Raving Rabbids: TV Party
Platforms: Wii, Nintendo DS
Release date: Holiday 2008
Play as the crazed, amped-up bunnies in 60 mini-games, organized into categories with a TV theme (news, sports, etc). Some of the games even include support for the Wii balance board. The games featured at the event included a strange take on Dance Dance Revolution, in which you make arm movements to match a horizontally scrolling grid, to the tune of the Austin Powers theme song; a snowboarding game in which you slide down a mountain course on the belly of a cow; and an outer space surfing game that has you piloting your character through gateways in space.
Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip
Platforms: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, PC
Release date: Holiday 2008
US Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White offers advice and encouragement as you tackle downhill and slalom mountain courses, then take a shot at the more improvisational half pipe event in five different venues scattered around the world. The game supports 4-player multiplayer, and the Wii version utilizes the balance board (but not more than one balance board in the same room, which is curious).