The comedy aprons have been dug out from the cupboard and the cow parts have been ordered. Yes, it's almost that time of year when we join our Ninja Kiwi chums for our summer BBQ at Monikie Park! As we get set to put the heat to the meat, we've been thinking about just how under-represented the art of cooking has found itself in the world of video games. True, for some players an egg whisk might not capture the imagination quite like a rocket launcher, but over the years a few games have certainly given it their best shot.
The closest we've had yet to an actual BBQ simulator, Yakiniku Bugyou arrived on the original Playstation around the turn of the century. Licensed by a Japanese restaurant chain, this fast and frantic puzzle game saw you flipping meat on a propane grill in order to satisfy an increasingly fussy array of customers.
Bizarre as it may sound, the sizzling sound effects, pixelated meat and ever-blackening grill stripes proved an almost hypnotic way to whet the taste buds, quickly earning the game cult status. Yakiniku Bugyou eventually found its way West in 2011, when it was released in its original form on the North American Playstation Store.
Taito and 505 Games' DS favourite is surely the most popular and well-recognised cooking title of them all. A pioneer of the casual gaming phenomenon that saw Nintendo print money a decade ago, it's easy to forget now just how novel and fun it felt to be a budding chef back in 2006, especially with the DS touchscreen controls.
Chopping, dicing, whisking and pouring quickly became second nature and combined with cute graphics and gentle challenge, led to one of the biggest hits in the early days of the DS. The success of the game paved the way for an entire franchise with regular sequels and spinoffs, most recently Cooking Mama 5: Bon Appetit which was released last year.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Zelda may be our industry's most revered franchise but in recent years even some of its most devoted fans have expressed the desire for things to take a new direction. Whilst new graphical styles, control systems and gameplay hooks have popped up over the years, ever since the dawn of 3D Zelda in 1998 the series has tended to follow a similar template.
The upcoming Wii U / NX Zelda however looks like the closest this series has seen to a full reboot, with Link's kitchen talents set to feature prominently in the survival-based gameplay. The images we've seen so far have shown Link put his cheffing skills to the test in a lush green environment not a million miles from Monikie Park itself, just with a few more goblins.Further details are scarce, but with the game set for release early next year we'll soon see just how far Link's gastronomic abilities are to be stretched.
Whilst next week's Tag and Ninja Kiwi BBQ looks set to be a primal affair of buns, burgers and brown sauce, the world of Resident Evil is one where more refined culinary delights rule the roost. On your travels round Spencer Mansion you'll have to contend with hordes of the undead and some clunky tank controls, but you can also look forward to building up a herb collection that would make Nigella Lawson green with envy (excuse the pun).
In an often punishing series, mixing and matching herbs for health boosts has become so integral to the franchise that upon the recent reveal of Resident Evil 7, the presence of herbs was one of the first questions on fans' lips. Thankfully it was confirmed that they will indeed be making the final cut, so in 2017 gamers can look forward to nibbling on something fragrant in amongst all the horror.