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The Dark Truth Behind Cooking Mama: Cookstar

When is a game more than just a game? When it's potentially a front for a cryptocurrency mining operation. That's the accusation some players are leveling at Cooking Mama: Cookstar, which most believed at first was the latest title in the beloved Cooking Mama series.

As it stands now, the title isn't available digitally in many areas of the world. Some did manage to get their hands on physical copies, though, and the stories they've shared have raised some serious eyebrows about what exactly Cooking Mama: Cookstar has going on behind the scenes.

According to The Gamer, some have reported that the game won't even start unless your Nintendo Switch is connected to the internet. When that requirement is met, the console's battery life apparently takes a huge hit, and internet traffic inexplicably goes way up. There could be a reasonable explanation for this, of course. This could just be a terribly optimized game — one making way too many network requests. But some believe there are more sinister forces at work.

An old press release put out by the game's publisher, Planet Digital Partners, touted the next Cooking Mama title as one that would "be the first game to integrate blockchain technology on major consoles." Blockchain is the underlying tech used by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, so it's understandable some might seize on that word and automatically assume cryptocurrencies are involved in some way.

The use of blockchain doesn't automatically mean digital currencies are being mined or moved around, however. In Cookstar's case, the team behind the game apparently wanted to use the tech as a form of DRM. There's no evidence that actually happened, though. According to the game's Twitter account, that idea was scrapped prior to Cookstar's release.

Further investigation by IGN surfaced some interesting news, as well. According to that outlet, people who've examined the game's code have determined it's not mining cryptocurrency. Others who've managed to buy the title have also confirmed it's able to be played offline. That knocks down two of the major claims made by the game's detractors.

There are some performance issues with Cookstar, as it seems to eat up a whole lot of battery life — more than it probably should. As for the crypto mining conspiracy theories, though, you can likely consider those debunked.

It's looking like this is a classic case of a few people jumping to conclusions. Some noticed oddities in the way Cooking Mama: Cookstar was operating, did some searching, and made some connections based on outdated information. These people alerted others, the news flew around the internet, and pretty soon, a controversy was born.

The truth is, you could probably go out today and buy Cookstar without any real fear. Reporting suggests the game isn't doing what others have said it's doing. As we mentioned earlier, though, Cookstar is actually very hard to find right now. It's been pulled from the eShop in many places, and physical copies are hard to come by. If the title wasn't doing anything nefarious, then why has it seemingly vanished from the Nintendo Switch digital shop and many retailers?

That, as it turns out, has more to do with a behind-the-scenes disagreement than anything else.

Screen Rant is reporting that a legal dispute exists between Planet Digital Partners and the owner of the Cooking Mama license, Office Create. The latter wanted the developers of Cooking Mama: Cookstar — 1st Playable — to "keep polishing the game," or just cancel the project outright. Planet Digital went ahead and published Cookstar anyway, however.

In response, Office Create got in touch with Nintendo and had Cooking Mama: Cookstar pulled from the eShop. The company also instructed Nintendo to stop producing physical copies of the game. This explains why Cookstar mysteriously disappeared one day. It's not that Nintendo saw the game doing something wrong and took action. It's that an IP holder and publisher had some beef. That beef will be settled in court at some point in the future.

This hopefully explains all of the madness surrounding Cooking Mama: Cookstar lately. If you somehow have a copy of the game already, it doesn't look like undercover crypto mining is something you need to worry about. Updates, however, are another story. If you're hoping to get a patch to address Cookstar's performance woes, you shouldn't hold your breath. Thanks to the game being removed from stores, and thanks to the legal battle gearing up, there's a chance Cookstar won't get a fix.

In fact, there's a good chance Cookstar won't be sold ever again.