By James Langston
I work for a software company that produces CAD software for kitchens and bathrooms. If that isn't an excuse to create a list of the best and worst kitchens in gaming, I don't know what is. Apart from a million other excuses. But this also serves as a handy guide to re-creating videogames' best cucinas in real life!
14: Fallout 4
Your Own Kitchen
Every major AAA open-world game now has a big crafting and base building element, if not to make you feel like you're contributing to its vast world in some way, then to give you something to do with the random shit you find in containers. Map-marker specialists Bethesda have also made this possible in their recent offerings. Following on from Skyrim's kinda-disappointing Hearthfire DLC, Fallout 4's settlement building system allows you to construct your own happy(-ish) home. Or, to be more specific in the case of Fuckface (I assumed you named your character that) re-construct, after - spoiler alert - there was a big nukey 'splosion. Around the more permanent solid post-apocalyptic wreckage of your former home in Sanctuary Hills, you get to construct useful items like cabinets, chairs and tables, and with the Bethesda-patented FloatyDropping™, complete your project with accessories and knick-knacks.
Although… good luck with that…
Recreate: That 50s/60s style lampooned in the game is long gone, but the metallic teal colour is back in a series of glossy doors. Ellis Furniture's Inspire range has that colour, as well as a series of curved end panels that probably get as close as you can to the Fallout look.
13: Rugrats - The Search for Reptar
Stu and Deedee Pickles' Kitchen
Thanks for the tip-off: James "JayMoyles" Moyles
This is the first cheating bit - a licensed game. I know, I know - look, go and Google "Top 10 Cartoon Kitchens" if you're that bothered. And, yes, I'm going to use it as an excuse to talk about the Rugrats. What a great idea for a show that was; the secret life of babies. Unfortunately they jumped the nappied shark by giving Tommy a little brother, who couldn't talk to them because he was a baby. WHICH MISSES THE WHOLE POINT OF THE SHOW. I should also mention that it was first created in 1990. Tommy would be in his mid-20s by now. Try not to cry.
Er, right - kitchens. As "licensed gamey" as it is, this game isn't as bad as it could've been. The hub world gives you the chance to be "in" the Rugrats universe, toddling round the Pickles' household, including of course said kitchen. Admittedly, it's only really notable for a 30-second-long level where you chuck a box of cookies around, in an attempt to prevent Angelica from the onset of Type 2 diabetes.
Recreate: Nothing drawn by Klasky-Csupo should be attempted in reality (let alone interpreting the world through the polygonal cave drawings of the PS1). But, cheating a bit and looking at the cartoon, the American-style framed kitchens are still available (without wanting to sound like a pretentious arty-type, American kitchen cabinet choices haven't really changed much in the last 20 years, which is neither a compliment nor an insult). Sky Valley Cabinetry's Hudson range is about right.
12: Lost Crown
Harbour Cottage Kitchen
Thanks for the tip-off: Arthur "sntnl666" Daly-Coleborn
The Lost Crown is a point-and-click adventure game that you may not have heard of. It ping-pongs between absolute brilliance (the distinctive black and white art style; the super-spooky setting) and shoddiness (dialogue options that appear out of order; the fact the writer of the game voices the main character and yet can't read his own lines like an actual human being would say them). I also don't like how much the main character looks like me.
Long (and confusing) story short: on a ghost-hunting trip, Nigel Danvers ends up renting an old, run-down cottage in a town that may possibly be stuck in the 1950s. His greater paranormal quest is scary enough, but even his temporary home has a whole lot of spookin' going on. At one point in the game, a gadget-based spectral puzzle results in some SPOOKY goings on. IT WAS A GHOST! Etc. Actually - bar a slowly-updating diary, the kitchen's probably the least spooky room in the house.
Recreate: The kitchen itself predates any kind of fitted furniture, so you'd have to go to an "I saw you coming" shop for individual antique dressers.
11: Maniac Mansion / Day of the Tentacle
Edison Mansion Kitchen
I'm guessing all y'alls know this, but: In Maniac Mansion, Dave Miller has to go into creepy Dr. Fred Edison's mansion to rescue his girlfriend. In the sequel (with an awesome HD version just released - squee!) Dave's mate Bernard (and his chums) return to the mansion to stop Dr. Fred's housemate, Purple Tentacle, from taking over the world.
This being a house that people live in, it has a kitchen (I guess you knew that was coming). In the sequel, the kitchen doesn't have a major purpose bar a couple of item-based puzzles, but in the original, the Edison Kitchen was the basis of one of the more controversial gaming moments of the 80s: Microwaving Weird Ed's hamster.
Bonus fact: Did you know there was a Maniac Mansion TV series? It was shit, and had even less to do with the game than TV spin-offs usually do. See here.
Recreate: Day of the Tentacle is hard to decipher, thanks to its Spümcø-style irregularity. The prequel however has a similar framed style to the kitchen in Rugrats; you could use the same Hudson door style, alongside the American-style wall housed microwave, for all your hamster-exploding needs (THIS IS A JOKE DO NOT DO THIS).
3rd Worst: Rogue Ops
Whatever level has that kitchen in it
No-one remembers Rogue Ops, the third-person shooter starring pair of tits Nikki Connors. And you know why? Look at this kitchen. What's wrong in this picture?
The wall units. Are your handles at the top of your wall units? No. Because you’re not a 10 foot tall T-Rex. Where I work, that's an "abandon and start again" job. Rookie mistake. Rookie.
Also, disclaimer: I think these images are from pre-release screenshots (meaning they're just as lazy as me) - I remember them in NGC; it may not be like this in the final version, but no-one cares about this game enough to verify this.
10: Silent Hill 2
Room 307's Kitchenette
Thanks for the tip-off: Matt Danter-Lawson
I've not actually played any of the Silent Hills. But I'm fully aware of this kitchen. Is it because of its traditional stained routed wooden door style? No it isn't. It's because you properly meet Pyramid Head for the first time, midway through forcibly having a go on one of the mannequin monsters. Again, but in a much more serious / uncomfortable way, do not do this.
Recreate: Another old American-style kitchen; another trip to Sky Valley Cabinetry. Acadia doors in Cherry, with a Euro style cabinet build. Don't re-create the rest of it though please.
9: Kitchen (VR Demo)
A Kitchen Presumably
Thanks for the tip-off: Chris "masofdas" Pengilly
Like the previous entry, I'm going to have to bluff this one. I'm aware that this horror VR game demo is (a) set in a kitchen of some kind, (b) featuring a spooky girl who kills you to death, and (c) really, really, really scary. But any research leads to a couple of stills of said spook, and hundreds of external "reaction" videos. I'm a big wuss, so (and regrettably, with no intention of disregarding Chris' suggestion) there's no way I'm finding any more out. But I do know it's a kitchen that lives long in the memories of anyone who has seen it. It's just… I'm not one of them.
Recreate: Nope nope nope.
8: Pokémon Crystal
Ethan's House (i.e. Your House)
Thanks for the tip-off: Luke "Drunkalilly" Summerhayes
Ethan's house (your house) is kind-of rudimentary. Back on the Game Boy Color with its limited resolution, the game didn't have the ability to physically demonstrate the comforting feeling of being back in your own home after days of exploration and battle. But with its simple symbolic style, and just with the ability to "read" what's going on with the furniture, Pokémon Crystal (along with its older brothers Gold and Silver) made you feel like this was a safe place to be. Something's cooking on the stove… and the Vietnamese bootlegged copy can tell you exactly what it is:
The house was reconfigured on the Heart Gold / Soul Silver reboot, with the graphics upsized, and the open plan partition wall turned into a worksurface area.
Recreate: Using the Heart Gold design as a clearer basis, the basic modular furniture design you're better off looking for in Ikea. Those solid green surfaces look like Corian - the Aqua finish probably. Whatever Ethan's folks do, they're raking it in…
7: Perfect Dark
Thanks for the tip-off: Hannah "Spantac" "my sister" Langston
John Carrington's shmancy holiday home has an unnecessarily detailed layout for an N64 game. You can actually see how it would function as a house… for the most part, anyway; there are still a lot of twists and turns. It's almost as if… it was designed… for a large number of people… to hide in. (What's with the wine cellar? How much wine does a guy need? Also, why store it on larder shelves? Asking for trouble there)
The kitchen is no exception, with individual built-in appliances texture-mapped into the American-style big-o-housings, and timber worktops you could live under. I know he's head of a secret organisation and all that, but his holiday home suggests he's getting paid way too much. THATCHER OUT CLASS WAR etc.
Recreate: Appliances look American - get them from Wolf (I'm taking this too seriously). The cupboards themselves look a bit... confusing… they're either American and have 2 frames on the doors (I don't think that's a thing) or it's actually an in-frame English design (in which case go for Prentice's Blyth range)
2nd Worst: Henry's House
Thanks for the tip-off: Simon "Bally" "Bally Zero" "Zero" "Zero Jones" Ball
If you're British, and grew up with a computer in the 80s, this is the sort of bollocks you had to put up with. British games tended to have amazingly mundane plots, compared with their Japanese and American counterparts. This example? Clean up your house. See also: Hover Bovver.
Anyway: each level represents a room of the house, and of course on old 8-bit computers this means "single screen level". This is the kitchen.
I mean… it's got a mixer; a toaster; a teapot; a wall mounted can opener; a… portcullis? A couple of memorial urns…? Also everything's at the correct scale which is nice.
If you want to know why we pissed our pants when Mario came along, look no further.
6: Tomb Raider II
Thanks for the tip-off: Grant "Grant Jones" Jones
If you don't remember what the dawn of 3D was like, watch footage of the early Tomb Raider games on the Saturn and PS1. Low-res textures clearly tiling along squared-off walls. Hexagonal wheels. Half a triangle of the nearby wall obscuring your view. We all convinced ourselves we'd made the bloody Matrix; and 1996 Lara Croft was the most sexiestest woman-oid the world would ever see. Boy, we were dumb. Do you think the workmen from the Dire Straits Money for Nothin' video are hot? You probably don't.
3D gaming's first push had, as a by-product of the new-found need for sprawling exploration, created a brand new trope for gaming: hub worlds. In the case of the early Tomb Raider games, Croft Manor acted either as a portal to your "proper" levels, or as a training routine for the 3D movement mechanics, which were still a foreign language to gamers who had grown up with sprites.
Being a house, it of course had a kitchen. A common theme for this article. It kind of looked like "traditional kitchens" looked in the mid-1990s (which shouldn't make sense, but does) with diamond floor tiles (although I suspect Lara was an Octagonal Dot kind of girl). The kitchen itself is unremarkable, except, being an aristocrat, she has, in place of a Smeg Union Jack fridge, a great big bloody cold locker thing. And what did every naughty gamer do? No, not that. They waited until Winston the butler popped in to the cold room, and then ran outside and shut the door on him. Then Tomb Raider III came out, and they did it all again.
The game looks, and plays, particularly archaic now, but the Manor got a mega spruce up in Tomb Raider Anniversary, the last-gen re-imagining of the original. However, the kitchen was wiped out for the Anniversary trilogy, meaning a (much less bent over) Winston was saved from a chilly grave.
Recreate: You probably want to get tiles that are all the same size, as opposed to being stretched out to cover the wall they're mounted on. To re-create the cupboards, squint a bit at what they were trying to re-create; I'd say framed, but slabby. I'd go for Mereway's Modern Classic range, in Prosecco, and choose dangly handles.
5: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Dungeons in Zelda games are a bit odd. In most iterations of Hyrule, the majority of good NPCs live in a small village or town, with 5 or 6 tiny houses in; but, down the road, there's a temple, usually slightly ruined, but mostly intact. As these temples are usually multiple times the size of the afore-mentioned settlement, you do wonder why the villages don't move into there. They shouldn't have to worry about security (there's always plenty of locks and keys) and, should they live in the place, there's much less chance of monsters settling in. Having said that, the buildings themselves are usually complete nonsense from a practical point of view, a seemingly random set of rooms and corridors designed specifically for an adventurer to puzzle his way through (Next week, I question the logic of Space Invaders' zig-zagging).
Snowpeak Ruins is one of the rare examples; decrepit, yes, but it's actually designed to work as a functioning house. And function it (mostly) does. Its current residents are Yeto and Yeta, a couple of yetis who may be some of the most endearing characters to exist in any version of Hyrule. At it so happens, poor Yeta is feeling unwell (it turns out - spoiler alert - she has a bad case of Scary Cursed Mirror disease), and while she recuperates on the living room sofa (to repeat: a Zelda dungeon has a sofa), her loving husband works his (gigantic) butt off in the kitchen, cooking an awesome soup to make her feel better. What a guy.
To be honest, the ruined kitchen is pretty much a room with a big cooking pot in the middle. Storage is handled by crates and barrels as opposed to cupboards, for the most part. But it's the (relative) incongruity, compared with the usual Zelda fare, that makes this place special.
Recreate: I don't know where you get barrels from. But there are a couple of plinths with a worksurface on, meaning the Yetis have a couple of trendy breakfast bars. The big chunky 60mm worktops are available from all over the place now - you probably want the Dark Mountain Oak from Sheraton.
4: The Addams Family
The Kitchen / Hob / Fridge
I'm just going to say this now, and this won't make sense to anyone who hasn't played it, and is watching this game playing out via YouTube, but… I really like this game. It's a platform adventure that, admittedly, offsets brutal difficulty with easily-accessible extra lives, and doesn't really match its source material (even something as wacky as the Addams Family). It's definitely a 90s platformer, with oversized arenas claiming to be "rooms", filled with level upon level of random objects come to life. But it's definitely charming. The music is really catchy. And of course it's a much better representation of the late great Raul Julia than Street Fighter the Movie the Game of the Movie of the Game.
The kitchen itself, although still giant in "is this real life" terms, is a minor junction that leads to do memorable "levels": the giant fridge, with its army of charging penguins and spherical snowman boss; and the giant oven - essentially the game's lava level, with miniature suns and… people on fire. Also a dragon boss that's blatantly inspired by Zelda II. Blatant.
Recreate: No, don't be silly.
1st Worst: Foyle's War - the Videogame
I'm sorry. I thought this was hilarious at the time. Sorry.
3: Micro Machines
Thanks for the tip-off: Grant Jones / Hannah Langston
What the bloody hell happened to Micro Machines? In the mid-90s, it seemed like it was going to be the king of arcade racers; it'd be around forever. It's been fizzled out to the point of non-existence. Not even Violet Berlin's presence was enough to save it, it seems. See also: Lemmings. If you're too young to remember, (1) I hate you, and (2) Micro Machines were tiny (about 2cm long) scale models of cars, with working wheels, so you could race them around your house. Kids bought loads of them. Then, someone decided to make a videogame of this, where you play as the cars themselves, instead of a human hand. Genius genius genius.
In the videogame, each track is based on a different area of the house / garden. Some rooms work better than others, but the kitchen tracks are the stuff of legend. Given nippy Four-by-Fours, you have to whizz around the kitchen table, avoiding sticky maple syrup, slippery milk (don't), surprisingly solid waffles, and the Micro Machiner's breakfast cereal of choice: Toppies! Playing this game on one player was kind of sedate; multiplayer, however, gave you ample opportunities to bounce over the track lines (constructed of said Toppies), which you could use to drift your way round corners, and nudge opponents on to the oblivion of the tiled floor. Endless fun, with 4 (or, if you're a schmancy-pants Megadrive owner, 8) players.
The kitchen did feature in some of the sequels, but… meh.
Recreate: No help with cupboards this time - you never see them in the game. In theory, this is the one kitchen you can completely recreate in real life, with actual Micro Machines, and breakfast products. However, searching for the elusive tablecloth will be a nightmare. "You meant Gingham, right?" No Google. No eBay. No Amazon. I did not.
The Sandersons' House
The original Chibi-Robo's an odd thing; the sort of quirky game that's disappearing from the videogame scene, even from the horizon-grabbing indie developers, in that it's a story-driven game that takes place inside one house (yes, I know Gone Home exists; it's nothing like Gone Home). The potential environmental limitations are negated by the fact that your hero is only 6 inches tall. Chibi-Robo's rubbish-clearing, metal spider-blasting adventure is twisted round two families: the Sandersons (the human beings that actually own the house) and the pseudo-family of toys that are given life by a pack of visiting aliens (after a while, you'll just go with this).
The kitchen of said household (with its super-bright orange theme) is key to many important points throughout the progression of the main game structure. Early on, you get to see Mrs. Sanderson persevere with housework, while trying to ignore her husband's frivolous spending and seemingly unemployed situation (and as a 6-inch high robot you can kind of see quite a way up her skirt - YOU BETTER NOT - SHE'S A CLASSY WOMAN - FOR CHRIST'S SAKE). It's one of the only time you can catch the parents interacting with Jenny, the daughter of the family, whose method of coping with the family's destruction is to pretend that they're "cursed by a frog" and only talk in ribbits. Later on, when things start to change for the better, you get to help Mr. Sanderson cook burgers, to the tinkling ofsome awesome Joplin-esque piano.
If you've played Chibi-Robo, you'll know how important any new type of interaction with the Sanderson family is. Every room is important, but the kitchen probably shows the most of the family, and the heart, of the game.
Recreate: The cupboards are sort of American frame-like again, so - again - Sky Valley Cabinetry's Hudson range is about right. However, the colour scheme is the realm of Etsy, or getting some mega-bright paint. If you want to laminate it instead, Egger's orange colour (U332, search fans) is a good match. Tiled worktops aren't really a "thing" any more, though.
1 The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
Stock Pot Inn
Warning: Spoilers ahead. You have had 15 years, mind.
The first time you play through Nintendo's time-looping classic, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen of Clock Town's Stock Pot Inn. Early on in your progression through the game, you meet Anju, daughter of the owner, and chief "job do-er" at the inn. After you learn about her predicament (her fiancée has gone missing) you agree to meet her in the inn's kitchen late at night. But, no doubt, the first time, you get there too late to talk to her, so you abandon the quest until you start the loop again. Then you catch up with her, but then you put the letter she gives you in the letterbox at the delivery time, rather than the collection time, so you have to start again (again). 4 or 5 mistakes later, you then discover you can't actually solve the issue (a) until you've made it further into the game, and (b) without concentrating for the whole of the 3-day cycle on this and nothing else. By the time you've got her reunited with her surprisingly de-aged other half, you're more than familiar with the early steps of the quest. And you've spent a lot of time waiting (especially in the original N64 version) in that kitchen.
Like most hotel kitchens, it's got more work surfaces than your average kitchen, a larger cooking stove, its own… fish pond? And an organised area for bugs? Alright then.
Recreate: It's kind-of in-frame, but the frames are too chunky to be anything you'd actually get (there's a lot of wasted space there). In fact it's kind of a modern shaker thing. Order the Littendale range from Ellis Kitchens, as you can also get the big chunky panels between the cupboards. Assuming you want to spend as much money as possible, because - you know, it's Zelda - Farrow & Ball paints could be used for the central panels; you want Blazer and Babouche.
This final sentence: Well, it only exists because I didn't want the last word in this article to be Babouche.
Oh shit I've done it again