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It’s a dangerous thing, playing a cooking game alongside your wife. Strong play on your part guarantees increased expectations on your real-life kitchen aptitude.

My wife suggested as much after I scorched her in a cooking duel of eggs and bacon, as played out on the Wii.

"Food Network: Cook or Be Cooked" turns out to be every bit as competitive as the title suggests.

You prepare meals as error-free and as systematically as possible to avoid the scorn of the judges and, in two-player mode, to beat your opponent on the split-screen.

A bevy of factors play into your final point total: Was your onion-slicing fast but exact? Did you seize opportunities to multitask? How was the finished product? Was the hamburger meat fully cooked? Did your plate of eggs sit too long while you were waiting for the bacon?

"Cook" is one game that is truly tailor-made for the Wii. Using your remote, you flip quesadillas, cut celery, swirl olive oil around in a pan, add dashes of seasoning and light the stove, among others.

Typical of Wii, the game’s not heavy on graphics and it doesn’t need to be because everything happens in the kitchen. And yet you can’t help but lick your lips a little at finished products like freshly-made guacamole and pan-fried salmon.

The game play is smooth, and it’s easy to get yourself into a groove. Many times, it’s up to you to decide your order of operations in preparing a multi-course meal. Being an ambitious multitasker comes with a high-risk, high-reward tag. It could get you a gold medal, or the judges could pass out or rip your meal upon tasting it. On the other hand, playing it safe usually won’t earn you much better than a bronze.

The judges add their commentary along the way, genuinely making you feel good with such quips as "You’ve done this before, haven’t you?" but also chiming in with "Hmmm, you’ll do better next time." They also explain the benefit of adding certain ingredients — as you’re chopping them up. My wife, who is quite the cook, mentioned being inspired by a few of their ideas.

There aren’t many downsides to this game. If you’re enamored with the current cooking show craze, you’ll likely love it. The recipe count is a bit scanty, however. The dishes start off pretty simple but get more involved the more you prove yourself.

The only beef I have with this game, other than my perfectly cooked hamburger (it had to be said), is the inclusion of the rhythm challenges like those employed by most music-oriented games. It’s not featured much, but I rolled my eyes. Haven’t we had enough of that, Namco?

Platform: Wii

On the Web: www.cookorbecooked.com

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