The Cooking Mama: Cookstar story gets stranger and stranger. After rumours circulated this week that the game was hiding a bitcoin miner in its code, one of the developers has quashed those rumours - and explained why they thought the game should be canned.
Controversy arose around the title early this month when a digital release was pulled in the U.S. and rumours surfaced that the game was designed to harvest cryptocurrency from user consoles.
In a new interview with ScreenRant, one of the developers of Cooking Mama: Cookstar stated that the crypto-currency mining rumours around the game were false, alleging this was just "fancy language" used by the publishers.
"The statement about crypto-currency was all buzz words. The head of Planet Entertainment knows very little about these things ... he just put some fancy language to get potential investors who like that stuff," the developer told ScreenRant.
While an early Australian Classification Board listing named 1st Playable Productions as the game's publisher, a later update scrubbed this name from the records. The game's box art does not credit 1st Playable Productions at all. Still, the game is listed on 1st Playable's website despite seeming attempts to remove references to the developer.
Cooking Mama: Cookstar hit retail stores last week — but the game was never launched digitally. According to reports, it was briefly listed in the U.S. Switch eShop, but was swiftly taken down. But before you buy the game in Australia, be aware that there's accusations the game was harbouring a cryptocurrency miner.
The developer who spoke to ScreenRant said reports of Switches crashing and overheating weren't because of a cryptocurrency miner — but rather the use of Unity as the game's engine and its overall lack of polish.
"As for the crashes/overheating. That would be because the game is made in Unity. By many people working on their first game... it's not the best product but it made it through several vigorous reviews by Nintendo and Sony. There is no way crypto-mining stuff could get through those tests," the developers said. "I doubt anyone at 1p would even be able to make such a thing."
Rather than cryptocurrency concerns, the developer revealed that the game had been pulled from the Nintendo eShop due to a legal battle between publisher Planet Entertainment and the IP holder, Office Create.
"Planet Entertainment released the game against a request by Office Create to keep polishing the game, or perhaps even cancelling it," the developer told ScreenRant.
A lack of communication and arguments between the publisher and developer were cited as reasons for the curtailed release. According to the developer, Office Create ordered the removal of the game from the Nintendo eShop after they found out that Planet Entertainment had gone ahead and released the game despite its lack of polish.
"Overall, everyone at 1p loves the cooking mama franchise and did their best to make the best product considering the interference from the higher ups. I think the game is far from perfect, but would have done fine without the publishers stumbling so constantly..." the developer concluded.
The strange situation with the game's release has had an unintended side effect on physical copies. While the game is still freely available in Australia at regular retail price, copies on eBay from overseas have already hit the $150-$200 mark.
As more news of the title's release breaks, it's likely to continue skyrocketing — so if you own a copy, it's best to hold on to it. With Cooking Mama: Cookstar's digital release tied up in a legal battle and its current performance issues, the game appears to be becoming abandonware.
Mama deserves better than this.