If the original Toca Kitchen was an appetizer, Toca Kitchen 2 is akin to the main course. The premise is a dinner party with a trio of special guests: one girl, one boy, and one—er, some kind of furry monster. Players can open the refrigerator off to the left-hand side, revealing an impressively stocked pantry, one with even more variety than that in the first Toca Kitchen. After choosing ingredients from among fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains, players can select a cooking option, such as baking/roasting in an oven, boiling in a pot, deep-frying, and more. They can also chop up the item into smaller pieces and season with various condiments before serving it up. Depending on the guest, it may go over well—the monster, for example, is a huge fan of fruits and meats, while the girl seems more like a vegetarian. And the characters are not afraid to let their preferences show: If they don’t like something, they are quick to stick their tongue out and make a sick face.
Like the first app game, Toca Kitchen 2 is great for showing kids the effects of food on grills, in boiling water, etc. Who can say whether it actually encourages them to learn to cook, but at the very least, the act of “food play” can get them thinking about the possibilities. Speaking of which, what really impressed me about Toca Kitchen 2 was all the options for potentially messy and messed-up things to digital food. Sure, anyone can fry a steak in a pan, but how about pureeing it raw, and then serving it up in a glass? (I tried it for the monster; I just didn’t have the heart, or stomach, to do it with human characters.) I also found that I could cook a food item one way, then cook it again in a different way, which adds even more depth as far as game play. Along with hinting at the possibilities of the kitchen, Toca Boca’s latest cooking-themed app benefits from a set of game play options that are as well-stocked as its digital pantry.