A Study In Cooking Mama: An Unsolved Disappearance

Any of you ever play a Cooking Mama game? No? Me neither, honestly. It’s always been a series that I’ve been aware of, but never really was interested in at all. I was vaguely aware that a new game was coming out, but I didn’t really care… that is, until I learned about the bizarre mystery of this game. Upon learning of some of the basic details of this, I decided I needed to look into it for myself. Detective Luna was now on the case!

I’ve never seen anything quite like the rabbit hole I jumped down, let alone stuff I discovered (mostly) myself. When I first started looking into this, no one was really talking about it. Now people are, but I’ve found information I haven’t seen anyone else talk about. Here I’ll be compiling all the information I’ve gathered so far, both well-known and not. This will be a doozy!

The Disappearance of Cooking Mama

On March 26th, (I think, that’s the only actual date I can find) Cooking Mama: Cookstar released on the Nintendo Switch eShop, and then promptly unreleased less than an hour later. Physical copies apparently exist, but only some stores got them, and no one seems to know WHEN they got them. Neither Nintendo or the people behind the game have talked about why it was removed.

Judging from the gameplay I’ve watched and what I’ve read of the opinions of people who got their hands on the game…. it’s a pretty standard Cooking Mama game. There’s nothing too notable about the game itself, which makes this all the weirder. The circumstances of this release are generally really odd.

The first “official” announcement was a trailer leaked by a Dutch retailer in August, after that… mostly silence, (outside of a press release stating the game would be utilizing blockchain technology, but more on that later) until that same trailer got released by the Cooking Mama: Cookstar Youtube channel around the time the game “released”. The channel seems fairly new, at the time of writing it has only 23 subscribers. There’s also a website with not much of note on it.

The Appearance of Planet Digital Partners

In January 2019, a game publishing company was founded by the name of Planet Digital Partners to little publication, which is really weird, considering that it consists of mostly big games industry names.

Looking into the games they’ve published, it seems to mostly be shovelware stuff. Weirdly, their website has a 2018 copyright despite the 2019 founding, and is called “Planet Entertainment” instead, but as far as I can tell, they are the same company. Strangely, as fellow Story Arc writer DK pointed out to me, some of the games listed on their website (namely Aqua Moto Racing Utopia and Snow Moto Racing Freedom) seem to be actually published by a company called Nacon or Bigben. I can’t find anything anywhere else linking those games to Planet.

Now, here’s where I started digging REALLY deep. I found Planet Digital Partners’ Youtube channel, and found an interview they had uploaded with Kelly Sumner, one of the executives of the company. This video only has around 100 views at the time of writing, so this is real obscure. This video was uploaded in February 2019, months before the Cooking Mama leaks, and it explicitly mentions they’re making a Cooking Mama game, but no one reported or acknowledged this. Why is everything about this company barely publicized? You’d think journalists would be finding this stuff if a random girl on the internet can, but whatever.

That’s not even the strangest thing about that interview, it also makes it clear that the company is prioritizing blockchain technology, which is… fishy, considering that’s usually used for cryptocurrency mining. They released a press release for Cooking Mama in August that said the game would be utilizing blockchain technology as well, but now are saying it doesn’t, allegedly.

Whether you want to believe them or not is up to you, but it’s certainly odd. There are claims of the game making the Switch overheat and having an always online requirement, but those are hard to verify given the elusive nature of the game. Also, another thing DK pointed out to me that’s worth noting, according to SEC filings, they’re based in Delaware despite the headquarters being in Connecticut, which is a common tax evasion strategy. Undeniably fishy, but not super weird.

The Imposter Theory

Here’s the common theory, as well as what I deduced, about what’s going on here. This game might not even be an official Cooking Mama game. The official Cooking Mama Twitter hasn’t mentioned it at all, despite having been tweeting actively, and its banner is a game from 2015. There is, however, a separate Twitter account for Cookstar specifically. Why would they split the accounts like that if this was an official game?

It hasn’t been mentioned by any official Cooking Mama media that isn’t specifically for Cookstar… Mama’s voice is changed… it’s developed by a mysterious and shady new company… it all adds up to make me think that it’s a front for a cryptocurrency scam. But, all that said, there’s a few things that still DON’T add up. 

Why would Planet Digital Partners do this? It consists of mostly people who have worked in the industry for years, they know this wouldn’t go well, and how did it go under the radar for so long without legal action? Lots of things still don’t make sense.

And So, The Mystery Remains Unsolved

Why was the game removed? Does it use blockchaining or not? Is it an official Cooking Mama game? I wish I could answer all of these questions, but even with all my detective work, there’s still too much left unknown. Hopefully soon someone will be able to figure it out, but that person probably won’t be me.

Regardless, hopefully this summary will help someone do their own research, and maybe it’ll be part of solving this mystery, but until then, Cooking Mama’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Boy, am I glad to not be a Cooking Mama fan!

Oh, and thanks to DK for the research help, read his article on flash games here, it’s good stuff!

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