Tag Archives: cooking

Grinding Down’s Top 10 Pumpkins in Gaming

I tried to get this post done long before Halloween hit, but life got in the way, and I got distracted and well, here we are now, a week into November. Thank goodness that November is also a month where pumpkins are totally topical and appropriate, so my post about 10 cool-as-heck pumpkins in videogames remains relevant. Whew. Also, it’s finally beginning to feel like fall here in New Jersey, though I’m sure, like a leaf detaching from a high-up branch and heading gently and quietly to the earth below, its journey will be short and quickly forgotten.

Also, here’s the pumpkins Melanie and I carved a few days before Halloween that almost instantly went moldy due to the high temps here in the Garden State:

I’ll let you figure out which one I did.

And now, some other cool-as-heck pumpkins!

10. King’s Quest

There’s a dark cave full of hungry wolves blocking your progress at one point in that new take on King’s Quest, and to get through it, you need a very strong and bright light to keep the beasts at bay. Eventually, you discovered you can purchase a magical blue ball of fire from the eccentric Hubblepots in town, but need some kind of vessel to hold it. A giant pumpkin from the local garden will do just fine, and it’s both silly and awesome to watch Graham hoist the heavy thing over his head and march through the illuminated cave with newfound confidence.

9. Fallout 4

Fallout 4 is a world without holidays, despite the Christmas surprise, where radiation and destruction are the focus. Still, time exists, and time passes, and you are from a long-lost era where holidays were a big deal, something people centered around and made special. Remember, the bombs dropped around Halloween. The plastic pumpkin is a reminder of a simpler time, of dressing up not to better protect yourself against raiders and swipes from a legendary Deathclaw, but to go door to door and collect candy. There’s not many of them out in the wild, but seeing one still gives me pause. Also, it can be broken down into individual components for use in crafting, so it is not just a piece of cosmetic dressing.

8. Clayfighter

I did not play a ton of ClayFighter in its heyday, being more of a Street Fighter II dabbler and a Mortal Kombat on-looker, but see here, Ickybod Clay is a punderful name for a ghost with a jack-o-lantern head. You just can’t beat that. Also, he can teleport and throw balls of ghost goo at his opponent, which irrefutably makes this is one excellent use of a pumpkin.

7. the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

For some reason, I’ve not come across many pumpkins in my playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so I use them fairly infrequently in my cooking sessions. But when I do, the results are always supreme. Here’s a tip: combining them with some type of meat will get you a meat-stuffed pumpkin that can restore a ton of hearts.

6. Final Fantasy VII

Okay, this might be a stretch, because I can’t seem to find any official ruling on whether the hilariously named enemy Dorky Face from Final Fantasy VII is a pumpkin-headed shuttlecock, but it sure does look like a pumpkin-headed shuttlecock to me, and so it is making the list. You fight a bunch of them in the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim, and their main attack is called “Funny Breath,” which causes confusion. Huh. I wonder if they’ll show up again in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, which is obviously never going to come out.

5. Costume Quest 2

It should come as no surprise that pumpkins are prominent in both Costume Quest and Costume Quest 2, games highly passionate about pumpkin time. I decided to go with the latter title, if only because it is somewhat fresher in my mind because of what I did with it during last year’s Extra Life event. Also, all the Achievement artwork is carved pumpkins.

4. Minecraft

There’s something about a square pumpkin that honestly cracks me up. Thanks, Minecraft. Keep on being square.

3. Borderlands 2

Look, I’ll just come out and admit it, but the only DLC I played for Borderlands 2 was the first one called Captain Scarlett and Her Pirate’s Booty. I had a good time with it and have continued to dabble in the game, but never got any more additional content. Which is a shame, because it sounds like Tiny Tina’s Assault on Dragon Keep is a lot of fun, and the smaller add-on called T.K. Baha’s Bloody Harvest is ultra-fitting for this post. Zombie T.K. Baha, last seen in a piece of DLC for the original Borderlands which I also did not play, sends players off to fight Jaques O’Lantern, a giant pumpkin boss who gives out new character customizations as rewards for being beaten. Sounds cool to me; however, Borderlands 3/Borderworlds needs a gun that endlessly fires giant, flaming pumpkins. Please make this dream a reality.

2. Stardew Valley

Ugh, I really do need to pick Stardew Valley up again and at least see it through to when grandpa is supposed to visit or whatever. Yet, after completing the community center, I feel like I’ve done the thing. The big thing. Anyways, that’s a topic for another post. Pumpkins are big in the game, especially during the fall season. They grow 13 days after being planted and are one of three crops that might produce a giant crop version, along with cauliflower and melon (see above). After Starfruit, it has the second-highest per unit base price of all the normal crops, which makes it important if you are looking to be rolling in a coin bank. Oh, and you can also make a jack-o-lantern by combining a pumpkin and a torch to keep things spooky year-round.

1. Animal Crossing

Jack, the self-proclaimed Czar of Halloween, is a character from the Animal Crossing series–except for Wild World–who loves candy, naturally. Especially lollipops. He appears once a year for Halloween, from 6:00 PM until 1:00 AM the following day. Jack distributes spooky furniture to the player, which can only be obtained through him, and it is all very orange and pumpkin-themed, and I believe I got every piece for my copy of New Leaf, but it’s been many years now since I played, so I can’t confirm this. I’m also scared to look for fear of getting sucked back in. Either way, he’s a real cool gourd-wearing dude.

I’m sure there are lots of other cool-as-heck pumpkins out there in videogame-land. How about you tell me of the ones you love or think rock. Please do so in the comments, and I’ll try to respond before any of them get moldy and start caving in on themselves.

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Careful cooking is love and a minigame in Suikoden II

suikoden 2 cooking minigame

They say that the loveliest thing you can do for someone is cook them a meal. Alas, I’ve never been a great chef. My culinary skills sit somewhere between a good bowl of ramen noodles and a tasty tofu stir-fry with diced up vegetables. Over the summer, I learned how to make a fantastic cucumber salad. But here’s a shocker; I’ve never baked anything in my thirty-one years of life–not a cookie, not a cupcake, not a pie. There’s too much exact science involved in baking, and that terrifies me. Plus, I’m always worried that because I have such low standards for food that what I might think is amazing someone else might view as disgusting, and then I’d hate for them to consume it. In short, this has resulted in an adult life where I do very little cooking for others.

Anyways, how does all this relate to Suikoden II? Well, if you explore your castle headquarters enough you’ll eventually stumble across a man named Hai Yo, who is looking to open up his very own restaurant. Naturally, Hodor thought Dah Castle would be the best place for this because we obviously see so much foot traffic. With Hai Yo now an official member of the Dornish Army, the restaurant is magically put together instantly. Oh, and all those recipes you’ve been collecting so far and throwing in the warehouse for storage can finally be put to good use. As you visit him, you’ll kickoff a lengthy minigame-heavy side quest about Hai Yo and other touring chefs that want to compete against him. Don’t worry; Hodor is deeply involved as his sous chef.

Each cooking competition in the still-very-serious Suikoden II starts out the same way, with you visiting the restaurant to find Hai Yo in the midst of a confrontation. Almost resembles a playground fight, with a circle of people gawking. Hai Yo’s opponent will challenge him to a cooking contest. You then have the option to jump to it or delay while you search for more recipes/ingredients. At this point, I’ve only done one cook-off, but I was so excited to get to this moment and re-experience the wonder and weirdness of it all that I just can’t stop the words leaking from my fingertips.

Hai Yo’s first rival chef is the unfortunately named Yu Kum. There’s a little introductory scene wherein the chefs are announced in a boxing match manner, though Dah Castle’s cook gets some wicked strobe lights, and then the panel of judges is revealed. There are four of them, and they are randomly selected from your group of thus-far collected 108 Stars of Destiny. They are not simply pretty faces though, as each judge does have a food preference, which correlates to how they ultimately score everything. For the Hai Yo/Yu Kum fight, I think my judges were Gengen, Nina, Gilbert, and Ellie. This random element keeps each competition up in the air, so to speak, as you never know who will judge and what they prefer to eat.

After the judges are revealed, Hodor must select an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert from your growing collection of recipes. You can add spices to each recipe to turn them into something else. For example, a salad with salt turns into pickled cabbage. The true secret to winning is as so: first, pick dishes that have a high “deliciousness” rating, and second, remember that Suikoden II was written with the Japanese palate in mind. While a simple bowl of ice cream as a closer might make sense in an American mind-frame, it might not in Japanese culture.

Once you are done making your choices, sit back and watch Hai Yo and Hodor go to work. You can also watch the rival chefs too, but I prefer the former. There’s some really solid animation work here, much of which is particular to the dishes you selected. There are a few meters on the side of the screen showing you how long something is taking to cook, but you can’t interact at all. Then the judges taste the courses and score accordingly, with a final tally tossed up at the end of dessert. I beat Yu Kum by about eight points, earning me his trusted tomato soup recipe.

In spite of it really just being a bunch of menu selections and astute attention to detail, the cooking mini-game is not very interactive. Still, it is a ton of fun to go through, and I’m looking forward to the next competition, as well as gathering some more ingredients and recipes. You can even have Hai Yo make you dishes to use in battle, some with strong effects. I just don’t anticipate having to do that fishing mini-game again, but I know, at some point, I have to. Ugh. Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Disney Magical World have spoiled me on simple, satisfying fishing gameplay, and everything else is too archaic to grok. But how else will I make that delectable salmon dish glazed with soy sauce and brown sugar?