Overcooked: Special Edition for Nintendo Switch is a couch co-op developed by Ghost Town Games, and published by Team17.
The first time I played Overcooked was seemingly out of chance. After a long session of Final Fantasy XV on PS4, my girlfriend and I wanted to play a more lighthearted game together for a bit. As we browsed the PlayStation Store, we came across a tiny little title called Overcooked. The screenshots and previews instantly made us interested and we took the plunge. 2 hours later, we were halfway through the main campaign with 3 stars in each level. Despite having some performance issues, Overcooked: Special Edition feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch.
An Unusual Culinary School
The main campaign of Overcooked begins with you and your fellow chefs on a rooftop in a burning city as meteors fall all around you. While on the rooftop, a mustachioed onion with a crown briefs you that the end of the world is happening because of a huge spaghetti and meatball monster with an insatiable appetite called the “ever peckish.” The Onion King takes you to the past so that you and your fellow chefs can improve your cooking skills and save the Onion Kingdom from the “ever peckish” in the future. The Onion King and his dog, Kevin, motivate you every now and then as you go from kitchen to kitchen becoming the best chefs in the Onion Kingdom.
The story of Overcooked is pretty ridiculous (in a good way). Right off the bat, the game makes it very clear that it does not take itself seriously. All that matters is that you have a motivation for why you’re going out to all of these cleverly (and devilishly) designed kitchens scattered across the Onion Kingdom.
A Good Meal with a Nice Garnish
Overcooked has a simple, colorful, and adorable presentation. The chefs you play as are plump little characters with distinct colors and characteristics in order to help you distinguish them from the other chefs. The kitchens are presented with simple colors and details that clearly mark out ingredients, preparation stations, and cooking areas. The world map lets you control a tiny bus that has cute little smoke clouds that follow it around as it travels through trees and other landmarks. The music of this game is bound to get stuck in your head. Before playing Overcooked: Special Edition, I did not play Overcooked on PS4 for about 6 months but I could still easily recall the music that plays as you drive the bus and when you’re cooking. Overall, the presentation of this game feels fresh and inviting.
I’m happy to say that the Nintendo Switch version of Overcooked: Special Edition does make use of the HD Rumble feature. When preparing ingredients, you feel the quick chops in the Joy-cons. When washing dishes, you feel the circular motion of a person scrubbing the dish. It’s great to see that HD Rumble was implemented into this game, especially considering that it’s a port. Unfortunately, I’m unhappy to say that the Nintendo Switch version of Overcooked has performance issues. In my time playing, I’ve experienced jitters, frame drops, and overall it feels like it struggles. The game is not unplayable by any means, but it is noticeable.
Overcooked is one of my favorite couch co-op multiplayer games. The premise of each level of Overcooked is relatively simple. Orders come in from the top left that tell you what ingredients you’ll need and how long you have to prepare them. As you get an order, you take these ingredients and take them to the preparation station. After preparing the ingredients, you take the ingredients to a pot or a grill where they will cook. When all of your ingredients are prepared and cooked, you take it on a plate to the serving station. You earn points for each plate you serve and an extra tip for how quickly you manage to serve it. Each level has three stars that you can earn, but the point requirement for each star increases as you progress further in the game. While this all seems simple, the game has a way of making it turn into complete chaos. Orders pile up if you’re not careful. Ingredients that are cooking can catch fire if left unattended for too long. Some kitchens require you to wash dishes. If you leave an ingredient on the ground, a mouse might come by and steal it. On top of all of these things, the kitchens and the recipes you get can change wildly from the last. One of my favorite levels is the kitchen on two trucks. In this level, the kitchen is split in half between two trucks. One side has the ingredients and preparation areas, while the other has the cooking and serving station. The trucks split apart periodically, so you have to make sure you have your ingredients ready before you cross over to the other side. The kitchens in later levels become difficult, but all of them are a lot of fun.
As you play the game, you unlock new chefs, levels, and modes. Overcooked: Special Edition features two DLC campaigns that were not included in the original, standalone version of the game. They are ‘The Lost Morsel’ and ‘The Festive Seasoning.’ The game also features a versus mode that allows you to compete in designated levels against another player. Unfortunately, there is no online multiplayer in Overcooked.
There are two main concerns that I have with Overcooked: Special Edition; it’s not a great single player title, and performance issues can hinder enjoyment. Overcooked is a game that can be played by yourself, but the experience is significantly less fun without at least one other partner. In single player, the game requires you to control two chefs by hot swapping between them as you perform tasks. It’s difficult to master, and ultimately not fun. I honestly would not recommend this game if you don’t have another person to play with because multiplayer is where Overcooked shines its brightest. The performance issues of Overcooked: Special Edition are extremely apparent. The game ran at 30 frames per second in the PS4 version, but on the Nintendo Switch it feels like it struggles around 20. At the time of this review, there were constant jitters, frame dips, and an overall poor performance across all modes. I still believe Overcooked is a great game, but I can easily see these performance issues causing frustrations in the game’s more frantic moments. The developers of Overcooked, Ghost Town Games, have stated that they are working on an update to improve performance issues on the Switch version of the game. If performance issues are a concern to you as well, I would recommend you wait until this update is released.
Overcooked: Special Edition is the best way to experience the frantic chaos of working in a busy kitchen and actually have fun while doing it. Overcooked features a solid multiplayer experience with plenty of unique levels to make you want to keep cooking. Overcooked feels like it belongs on the Nintendo Switch, but the performance issues prevent me from calling this the definitive version of the game. If the devs can provide an update that fixes these issues, I would be glad to consider this the definitive version of Overcooked because of its portable, and short co-op nature. Overcooked: Special Edition is now available on the Nintendo e-Shop for $19.99.