Since the day that Pac-Man started stuffing strange pellets into his face, video game characters have been snacking on some strange food. Not always content with floating fruit or sandwiches found lying on the ground, some characters will find themselves dining on some dubious dishes.
It is, after all, hard to be a video game hero, and it’s not always easy to find yourself a simple snack. So on occasion, you just have to make due with what’s there - and that can turn out to be pretty gross.
The most obvious examples are zombies. Whether or not you’re playing as a zombie in a game like Stubbs the Zombie or blasting your way through hordes of them, zombies have some of the worst eating habits found in gaming. The cliche is that they eat brains, but they don’t seem all that particular about what part of their victims they devour.
Reasons for why they feast on our friends and loved ones varies from game to game -- such as viruses in the Resident Evil series or mutant bees in Dead Rising -- but the end result is always the same: a thirst for brains. You’ll never find a vegetarian zombie, after all (Plants vs. Zombies excluded, of course).
Depending on who you ask, the future may hold the bleakest snacks of all. For the post-apocalyptic survivor in the Fallout series, it’s not uncommon to snack on food that must be alarmingly past its expiry date. If stale cereal doesn’t sound appealing to you, you can always get your proteins from mole rat and mirelurk meat.
Shadowrun may present a less bleak future, but the food is certainly no better. I hope you like soy, because many of its meals are simulated, right down to soykaf being the replacement for coffee and soykrill being a staple protein. If you’re determined to sink your food into some meat, most of it is going to be laboratory grown. It could be worse, you could be like one character from Shadowrun Dragonfall who becomes trapped in a building and is forced to subsist on vat-grown metahuman meat for years before his rescue.
Many games make the dark side of food more than just a powerup or side quest. For example, the Oddworld games like Abe’s Odyssey are metaphors for the destructive industrial practices used by large food corporations.
Sometimes you just have to sink your teeth into whatever you can get your hands on. B.J. Blazkowicz of Wolfenstein fame is certainly no stranger to scarfing down dog food when better meals aren’t lying around. Sometimes things are a bit more ambiguous. What is this monk meal that the protagonists of Rise of the Triad are constantly scarfing?
Things get weirder when mistakes are made. Throw a bunch of unrelated ingredients into your wok in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and you may wind up with dubious food. Tomodachi Life gives you some ruined meals to try out, which perhaps isn’t the worst thing your Miis will eat, since they tend to devour the plate as well.
Perhaps the weirdest, however, is in Bite the Bullet where you find yourself eating, well, everything. Enemies, walls, bullets; they’re all delicious and they’re ready to be eaten. It doesn’t matter how robotic or rotten your enemy might be, stuff them in your face to gain those sweet, sweet nutrients.
I try not to judge. Everyone has their own tastes! But perhaps if you’re eating some of the foods I just listed, I’d have to raise an eyebrow. Whatever you’re stuffing into your characters face, hopefully it’s edible, but even if it isn’t, it might just get you through to the end credits.
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