Cooking Mama is a fun, cutesy, lighthearted series of games about cooking all sorts of weird and wonderful cuisine with fun minigames. That's why the story that's about to follow may be extra surprising. The latest entry in the series, Cooking Mama: Cookstar, has found itself the victim of a very confusing, very heated legal battle between both its developer and publisher. It all started back near the end of March when Nintendo Switch users discovered the game listed on the Switch eShop. Cool, right? A surprise release! That's what it felt like, anyway, until the game was pulled from the eShop only a few hours later. Following this, rumors began to circulate about its situation, and those who did get to play it for that brief window were met by a buggy, unpolished experience that may have been using some sort of cryptocurrency behind the scenes. I couldn't make any of this up if I tried.

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Things are finally clearing up, however. In a statement posted to their official website, Japan-based developer Office Create revealed that the game was released early, and without their authorization. "As many of you know, Planet Entertainment LLC recently released 'Cooking Mama: Cookstar' for sale in the U.S., Europe, and Australia," the post reads. "This was an unauthorized breach of Planet's contract with Office Create." According to Office, a Switch build of the game was approved by them... provided it was polished up to snuff. This was back in 2018, mind you. Through this, publisher Planet Entertainment had certain guidelines they had to follow in the contract in order to get the game sold. This led to them handing development to 1st Playable. As it turns out, the game they made didn't meet Office Create's standards, with a severe lack of polish and bugs found throughout. Despite this, the game was plopped onto the Switch eShop anyway, which explains why it appeared then disappeared within a few hours; Office Create contacted Nintendo and had them pull it from the store, as well as halt physical sales of the title. The developer then terminated their contract with Planet.

Even with all of this, however, Planet Entertainment has still gone on to advertise and sell Cooking Mama: Cookstar, even going so far as to advertise a PS4 version of the game, something that was not in the contract in any way. It makes even less sense considering Cooking Mama has always remained at home on Nintendo consoles and handhelds throughout the years. At this point, Office Create is figuring out what sort of legal action to take against Planet. It's extra awkward for the latter, as they outright ignored the legal drama and claimed the rocky eShop launch was due to the COVID 19 pandemic, of all things. Since Office Create's statement, Planet Entertainment went on their official Twitter to provide a rebuttal. "Office Create, the rights holder to Cooking Mama, approved a detailed game design in 2019," the post reads. "1st Playable the game developer and Planet followed the exact approved design. That design is the exact game on Nintendo Switch which also includes many additional Office Create suggestions which add gameplay value." The posting goes on to mention that "creative differences" outside of the contract's original scope and game design were what resulted in all of this. Due to these differences having nothing to do with the agreement, Planet claims that they're fully within their rights to publish Cookstar.

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It's hard telling where all of this legal drama will go, but for Cooking Mama: Cookstar, it's not looking good. Assuming Office Create does win this fight, there are two possibilities: The game will either be pulled back in the oven and given more work through a different publisher and developer, or it'll just be canned altogether. On the flip side, if Planet wins, the game will be available in its current form that was released earlier. Weirdly enough, the game supposedly contains cryptocurrency mining software, referencing a cryptocurrency known as Rocket Tokens that Planet allegedly may have been testing. Considering their since-scrubbed statement about Cookstar containing "blockchain technology", this feels truer than not, and only raises suspicion more. This is a developing story, so I'm sure we'll hear more about it soon. Whatever the case may be, this will be a rocky bump on Cooking Mama's legacy that can hopefully be quickly put behind us.

Tanner
Tanner

Tanner is a freelance writer. He enjoys all things video games, particularly the weirder ones, and can often be found drinking coffee and trying to get through his backlog.

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