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If you're in a mood for some light-hearted riffing on the easy target of culinary video game tie-ins, Richard Cobbett's latest RPG Scrollbars column does exactly that. So, if you want to read a bit about World of Warcraft or Heartstone cookbooks, feel indignant at the brazen pun that is James Tea Kirk, or find out what one can put into a drinkable Estus Flask, read on. Here's an excerpt:
Thankfully, while RPGs don’t typically get much in the way of edible spin-offs, they tend to be done a little better. The inevitable stock attempt is variants on health and mana potions. There have been more of these than I can count. At least five. Mana Potions for instance sells funky little bottles for cow-people and Firiona Vie wannabes in two different forms – ‘health potions’ supposedly tasting of apple cinnamon, ‘mana potions’ berry flavoured with ‘a bit of a sour bite’, probably to represent the realisation that magic doesn’t exist and you won’t be throwing fireballs out of your fingertips any time soon (though perhaps you might be able to propel a stream of acid from your throat, depending how many you drink).
Squeenix meanwhile created what it simply called ‘Potion’, available in funky bottles you can imagine people buying to put on a shelf, and in a regular screw-top bottle which honestly I can’t. See also Nuka Cola Quantum from the Fallout universe, a drink whose creators clearly looked at the original with its funky rocket shaped design and decided ‘yeah, we don’t care that much, and also we’re putting our brand on it.’ Tssk. You’ll never become the new Ecto-Cooler that way. (A drink by the way that I have exactly zero memory of, if it was ever released over here, but the internet seems to have decided was the greatest thing that side of Crystal Pepsi. Which I have also never drunk.)
(My personal pick for laziest soft drink tie-in? It’s not an RPG, so… well… sorry… but I don’t think it gets any lamer than the Resident Evil T-Virus Antidote. Which is an energy drink in a can and that’s all. No funky syringe to put it in your mouth/someone else’s hair, no test tube bottle or something, just a can of probably foul-tasting pop with all the raw sentiment of Garfield’s Macaroni & Cheese Dinner. But I’m sure people bought it. Back in 2004, our own John Walker managed to get a thousand or so hits… which is like a million hits these days… for a promotional, out of date, and fairly ratty bottle of Baldur’s Gate branded ale and promotional tankard. I don’t remember how much it went for, but I’m pretty sure it was his most successful online sale until RPS.)
Things inevitably get more fun though when fans get involved, with the goal being to recreate a literal slice of a beloved world instead of selling one. This typically means no fancy packaging, but in exchange, food that actually has things like ‘real ingredients’, and the passion to use them well. These are rarely based on the ‘facts’ of the in-universe recipes, which is probably good when you ponder that Monkey Island grog canonically contains battery acid and axle grease, and the Portal cake that was not a lie features garnishes like fibreglass surface resin, fish shaped dirt and 3 tablespoons of burning rhubarb. It is however based on a real cake, which indeed looks delicious. Likewise, I don’t know what goes into a Minecraft block, but Rice Krispies are definitely an improvement.