Last month, Cooking Mama fans were surprised and confused when newest title Cooking Mama: Cookstar was released on the Nintendo eShop - and then just as quickly vanished. Within hours of its debut, the game disappeared from online stores and was listed as "Out of Stock." Only a few lucky fans, mostly based in the United Kingdom and Australia, were able to score a copy of the game before it became absolutely impossible to obtain.
In the weeks since the game's "release that wasn't" on March 31, speculation has run rampant. Some fans thought that there was a conflict regarding the rating assigned to the game, while others hypothesized that the game was simply unfinished.
By far, however, the most prevalent theory was that the game contained possibly illegal blockchain functionality and used the Switch's hardware to secretly mine cryptocurrency. This idea became so widespread that 1st Playable, the game's developer, had to issue an official statement on Twitter confirming that this was not the case.
Those are all rumors. The game is fine. We’ve playing it for months, the team just got our retail copies and they work as expected. There’s no technical issues with the game, and although we’re not directly involved with the eshop issue we are hoping it will get sorted out soon.
— 1st Playable (@1stPlayable) April 5, 2020
Now, the truth has come out at last - Office Create, the owner of the Cooking Mama IP, has announced that they were disappointed with the work done by publisher Planet Entertainment. In an official statement entitled "Important Notice Re: Cooking Mama: Cookstar," Office Create expressed that they "rejected a wide range of deficiencies affecting the overall feel, quality and content of the game."
According to Office Create, Planet Entertainment refused to fix the deficiencies, despite being contractually obligated to do so. Additionally, Planet intended to release a PlayStation 4 version of the game for European markets, which Office Create states they did not authorize. Office Create officially revoked Planet Entertainment's permission to use the Cooking Mama name on March 30. The game's release a day later, the statement reads, was therefore completely unauthorized and the title was pulled for that reason.
Office Create also indicated their intention to pursue legal action against Planet Entertainment for their handling of this situation.
The situation escalated further when, on April 15, Planet Entertainment released an official statement of their own via the Cooking Mama: Cookstar Twitter account. Planet claimed that Office Create's issues were brought up late in the process, after a version of the game had already been approved, and were "outside the scope of our agreement." They further state that "Planet is fully within its rights to publish Cooking Mama: Cookstar. There is no active litigation or ruling that prevents Planet from publishing the game."
— Cooking Mama: Cookstar (@CookstarMama) April 15, 2020
As of April 16, Office Create has not responded to Planet's assertions.
Koch Media, the intended European distributor for the game, chose to remain neutral in the conflict. "It would be inappropriate for us to comment at this time" said a spokesperson for Koch Media in a statement to Eurogamer.
Despite Planet's response that they were within their rights to publish Cookstar, the game has not reappeared in the Nintendo eShop or been restocked at any physical retailers. It is currently speculated to be highly unlikely that the game will be released at all, meaning that the few fans who managed to buy a copy might find themselves in possession of a very valuable collector's item.
Were you looking forward to Cooking Mama: Cookstar? Let us know!