Video games are filled with a lot of food. Whether it is Skyrim’s sweet roll, Kingdom Hearts’ sea salt ice cream or Portal’s elusive cake, food often looks positively scrumptious in video games.
I have often felt that animated food looks tastier than what I imagine it tastes like in the real world. I know I am not alone and sure many people watch the cooking in a Studio Ghibli film with saliva dripping down from their mouth, channelling their best Homer Simpson impression, mmm food. I do not know why drawn food looks so good, but Charles Spence, an expert on gastrophysics, claims we think food tastes better if it looks delicious. Animators spend a lot of time ensuring their images are perfect and do not have to worry about misshapen buns, melted ice-cream or discoloured lettuce. Maybe that is simply the reason.
Bugsnax quickly became a beloved gem when it launched last year. It’s kooky and yet deep story was enjoyed by so many. Taking centre stage were the Bugsnax themselves. These are the oddly cute looking amalgamations of food and animals, well I guess bugs, that fill the whole of Snaktooth Island. Anyone that eats one finds they can morph a part of their body into that Bugsnax. It is a little weird and I’m sure people would be hesitant to go to a restaurant if they risked walking away with a lasagne for a neck, but it is part of the game’s charm.
In an attempt to bring food to life and experience what it would be like to eat a fabled Bugsnax, I recreated a few of them. I will give a quick disclaimer, I am not a chef and have as much skill at cooking as a three year old with an Easy-Bake Oven. As an example, I once attempted to make beans on toast and forgot to toast the bread. On another occasion, I also forced my office floor to evacuate because I accidently melted a plastic food container in the communal microwave – there was an investigation and everything to find the culprit.
One thing that made the whole experiment feel weird, apart from the fact I am creating a sandwich with eyes, is that I am a vegetarian. While I used meat substitutes, part of me did feel like I was being a little hypocritical calling myself a veggie and eating a fake Bugsnax. It was those googly eyes staring into my soul. Although, that didn’t stop me devouring them – they all tasted amazing.
I have listed these in the order of how well they turned out. I can only apologise for what I did to the Charmallow. It deserved better.
The phase beginner’s luck has never been more true than with my attempt at a Bugsnax. This hand-crafted masterpiece got my hopes and expectations high for the whole experiment – it is a shame things just went downhill.
The Sandopede is made of a fresh baguette, sliced tomato, lettuce, gherkins, cheese and veggie ham slices. It also has onions for legs.
One thing I did find out early is that having to eat a sandwich once you have given it a face is tough. I genuinely felt like I was murdering my beloved pet. A tip for anyone that wants to make their own, take the googly eyes off before you bite into it, that is a mistake you only make once.
The Bunger is such an adorable Bugsnax and probably my favourite. The way it chases after you like a dog eager to see its owner is heart-warming, well until it yeets you off a cliff. My real life Bunger matches that energy. While it can’t move, it just feels like it is ready to leap at you.
I made my Bunger out of a burger bun, veggie burger patties, lettuce and a bit of cheese. It is wrapped up in tin foil and has two onion ring horns. The legs, which struggled to lift the poor thing’s weight, were curly fries.
This is the last of the ones I deemed successful. It was also the easiest of the bunch, essentially just being a hot dog with eyes. That said, what a hell of a hot dog it was.
My Weenyworm was made from a hot dog bun, veggie hot dog, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, gherkins and mustard. I do not know what madman has a hotdog with only mustard and not also with ketchup, but each to their own I guess.
Scoopy Banoopy is probably one of the fan favourites of the game. There is just something about the way it says its name. The deep toned creature saying “Scoooooopy Banoooooopy” is hilarious and just makes it feel like a lovable lummox.
It was not a particularly hard Bugsnax to make. It is essentially cutting up a banana and scooping ice-cream. However, the problem is that ice cream melts. It was a race against time to build it and picture it. Unfortunately, this was a race I lost. He looks a little more deflated than I would have liked and the Bugsnax legend deserves better.
To make Scoopy Banoopy I used three bananas, one of which cut in half, scoops of chocolate, vanilla and strawberry ice cream, whipped cream and cherries all inside a banana split boat. As you can see under his pincers, I also used cherries to keep them propped up, as the buggers kept rolling off.
Much like Scoopy Banoopy, my attempt to make Sherbie was foiled due to the fact ice cream melts. Apparently even England in winter is not cold enough for ice cream to stay frozen. Sherbie has more of a worm like form, but this feels like a plate of ice cream.
This is actually the simplest of all my attempts. It is just scoops of strawberry, vanilla and mint ice cream and a wafer cone. So it is sad that it turned out so shoddy. I know the actual Sherbie has an orange ice cream scoop for the middle of its body, but heck knows where I can find that.
Finally, Charmallow. Poor, poor Charmallow. It even looks like it is sad. It’s crying out at the universe demanding to know why it was created to just be an abomination. A picture tells a thousand words and this aptly does. That downward gaze, the slumped legs and the little open mouth. This is not a happy scene.
In my defence, I have never made a s’more before. Even when I have been camping, I have never had a marshmallow toasted by the fire. Where I think I went wrong was by grilling the marshmallow instead of burning it on the stove burners. While grilling helped to get that brown glow, it essentially deflated it until it was a squashed mess.
The Charmallow is made of two marshmallows, one cooked and the other not, chocolate legs and wafers for wings.
Making the Bugsnax was incredibly enjoyable. While they didn’t turn out perfect, they turned out better than I could have hoped. Not to toot my own horn, but they tasted amazing. Clearly animated food can be as scrumptious as they look in video games. They almost feel like they could belong in the real world, maybe in a Heston Blumenthal-esc restaurant. Although, having looked them in their googly eyes, I can’t help but agree with Gramble – Bugsnax are my friends.