Summer is upon us, and with the hot days, we all love to have a nice cold ice cream treat to cool off. It's an impulse that brings friends and family together to enjoy refreshing snacks. To honor the tradition, I've put together a fun list highlighting some of the best (and strangest) ice cream appearances in and around video games.
Now, can anyone tell me definitively that Kirby is not some sort of ice cream homunculus conjured by the dreams of some eldritch god? Because, for as delightful as the pink puffball might appear, his abilities are terrifying. He has demonstrated the ability to consume his foes entirely only to become strange copies of them afterward. Not only that, but in Kirby Super Star Saga, he demonstrated a mastery of martial arts that was capable of breaking a planet in half with nothing more than his bare hands - or whatever Kirby's limbs actually are.
Despite being a terrifying force that walks the line between heroic and monstrous, Kirby possesses an unfortunate similarity to ice cream. Fans of the series have picked up on this visual comparison and created enough fan art that a Google search of "kirby ice cream" yields unexpected results. Instead of scenes or screenshots of Kirby eating the ice cream that already permeates his numerous titles, the top results are artistic or culinary recreations of Kirby as an edible dollop of ice cream himself.
While brainstorming this list, I thought "Oh! Kirby eats cute ice cream! Perfect!" But I guess it's not enough to merely appreciate the cute character eating cute ice cream. We have to imagine Kirby as food, or actually make him into real food, too. I'm not mad, I'm just a little disappointed at how many people want to literally consume Kirby.
4. The Pizza Sundae from Costume Quest
You could be forgiven if you played the original Costume Quest without noticing the Pizza Sundae. Scattered throughout the Double Fine RPG are collectible items known as Creepy Treat Cards. While in the sequel made these items into equippable stickers, the original just had them there as something fun to collect as a sort of in-game achievement system. Completing all three rounds of bobbing for apples at the mall will net players the pizza sundae Creepy Treat Card.
While not terribly exciting by itself, the strange frozen treat caught the attention of culinary creators around the internet. Right now, intrepid cooks can find recipes to recreate the spooky, frozen delicacy. While initially many found the food to be a gross concept, some saw potential in the idea.
One of the most widely circulated versions comes courtesy of Gourmet Gaming, a Tumblr dedicated to food and gaming. The recipe idea pictures the pizza sundae as an ice cream dish designed to look like a pizza. It calls for multiple layers of ice cream and candied toppings. The resulting dish looks like a delicious ice cream cake with the soul of an ice cream sundae and the shape of a pizza. 10/10 would definitely eat despite its origins as an in-game gag. The creation earned so much recognition that the in-game creator of the pizza sundae reached out to Gourmet Gaming to congratulate them on a job well done.
Honorable Mention: Sonic
This one doesn't really count as ice cream in video games since, as far as I know, Sonic doesn't eat ice cream in any of his games (but don't quote me on that). No, Sonic receives a mention of dubious honor on this list for his iconically derpy ice cream incarnation that inexplicably became a staple of ice cream trucks across the United States. Following the release of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991, these melty boys made their way around the nation.
However, it wasn't until the recently that people began to open up about their deep connections to the frosty treat. The deluge of Sonic ice cream images that followed the initial postings about it confirmed what occasional purchases could not: The Sonic ice cream bar had an unfortunate tendency to melt while making its way from production and into the hands of both children and adults. This led to a disproportionate number of said treats to have the likeness of Sonic somewhat... altered.
Sonic earns a mention here for how incredibly silly and strange his melted incarnations became. It somehow comes across as both endearing and pitiable. Perhaps that's the secret to the chilly blue treat's longevity as an ice cream truck staple?
3. Vanillite + Alcremie
OKAY, LOOK. We already went over this with Kirby. Nintendo, stop making characters that looks like ice cream! I mean, look at these two Pokémon; they're clearly delicious!
Vanillite has long been criticized for its design being incredibly similar to a soft serve ice cream cone. Each of its subsequent evolutions, Vanillish and Vanilluxe, only serve to reinforce the comparison by turning into a traditional ice cream cone and then a sundae. While hardly the only Pokémon to look like food, something about its association with such a sweet treat really stuck in the minds of Pokémon fans the world over.
More recently, Alcremie appeared in a trailer for Pokémon Sword and Shield. Many thought that the critiques of Vanillite might dissuade the creation of more edible Pokémon, but Game Freak looks to be doubling down, insisting on putting more ice cream creatures into their upcoming Pokémon RPGs. If anything, Alcremie looks even more like food than its predecessors. It has strawberries in its... hair? Body? What is on its head anyway? Wait, we're probably better off not knowing.
2. Kid Icarus' Floor Ice Cream
Have you ever looked at ice cream that has fallen or dripped onto the floor and thought to yourself, "It's still good. I should eat that?" Kid Icarus' Pit certainly has. Ice cream stands out as one of the handful of food items that appears throughout the course of Kid Icarus: Uprising. When Pit eats those food items, he regains health.
However, very few characters in games seem actively aware of this dynamic quite like Pit. The intrepid angel hasn't appeared in many games, but his 3DS outing, Kid Icarus: Uprising, allowed his plucky and eccentric personality to come to the fore. Moreso than most Nintendo titles, Pit seems to be very aware of the game-like nature of his universe. He accepts the way things are almost without question, leading him to loudly defend his in-game behavior to his allies.
Kids, don't eat ice cream, or food in general, off the floor. Eating ice cream off the floor might be good for Pit's health, but probably wouldn't do much for yours. It might even make you sick! Please, just say no to floor ice cream.
Honorable Mention: Whatever Ice Cream Sweet Tooth Sells in Twisted Metal
Sweet Tooth is an insane killer. He's also a clown... who drives a demonic ice cream truck. While selling ice cream certainly isn't the goal or even often depicted in the Twisted metal series, there must be some kind of ice cream in that evil truck somewhere. In fact, we do see the goddess Calypso serving ice cream out of it in Twisted Metal: Small Brawl.
Due to the lack of ice cream in the series, Twisted Metal's flagship vehicle and character couldn't earn a spot on this list. However, it's undeniable that Twisted Metal has one of, if not the only, readily recognizable ice cream-related characters. That unique distinction merited an honorable mention on this list. Congratulations, Sweet Tooth, maybe with this award you can turn away from your life as a demon clown and just sell ice cream?
1. Kingdom Heart's Sea Salt Ice Cream
Ice cream plays a strangely large role in the Kingdom Hearts series. Specifically, the sea salt ice cream flavor brings characters together. The unique flavor stood out to North American audiences following its first appearance in Kingdom Hearts II. Since then, the frozen delicacy has played roles both big and small in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, and Kingdom Hearts III.
Tetsuya Nomura began integrating sea salt ice cream into Kingdom Hearts after visiting Tokyo DisneySea, one of Disney's international theme parks. They served the ice cream there and it got Nomura thinking about how children would spend their time during their summer vacations. Ever since, it became a shorthand way for the series to convey friendship and nostalgia for better times.
The flavor has been recreated by Kingdom Hearts fans and gaming enthusiasts. Prominently, Rosanna Pansino showed her audience how to make their own sea salt popsicle ice cream treats in a video back in 2014. Her cooking video has taught over 5.5 million people how to make their own version of the Kingdom Hearts ice cream and that's pretty incredible. It would seem that Tetsuya Nomura's shorthand for friendship brought more than just the friends in Kingdom Hearts together - it brought all of us a little bit closer, too.
What's your favorite video game ice cream?
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