A few days ago, my boyfriend downloaded a new XBLA (also available for PS3 network) game called Costume Quest. I watched him play a little bit, then I decided not to watch any further, because the game looked so darn cute and fun that I wanted to play it later by myself. He loved the game, and wrote a review on his blog. When he tweeted about the review, one of the creators, Tasha, was really happy about his review, and commented “nice review! the real question is, what’s with that AWESOME BENTO BOX in the right column??!” My boyfriend has a flickr badge on his blog which was showing the photos of my previous “Peep and the Big Wide World” bento.
Halloween is just a week away and I thought this would be a great chance to make a bento, and make my boyfriend and the awesome people behind the game happy.
Bento #79: Costume Quest
Created and eaten: 10/24/2010
Costume Quest is an adorable role-playing adventure game created by Double Fine. It takes place on Halloween night, kids in costume trick-or-treating and fighting monsters to save a kidnapped sibling while collecting costumes. I decided to make this bento before I actually played the game, and I didn’t want to do too much research (I didn’t want to spoil the fun!) so I just went with the official cover art.
I knew there would be a lot of small parts so the night before, I made soboro with ground beef (see “How to make soboro”) and cut cheese for the “Happy Halloween.” Soboro is basically ground meat (can be beef, pork, or chicken) cooked with soy sauce, sugar and cooking wine. You can eat it with rice as is, but you can also use it to add a little bit of flavor to other foods like omelettes, stir fried vegetables, etc. You can make soboro and freeze it too!
In the morning, I put soboro on the bottom part of a bento box. I mixed rice with black sesame seed and salt, and put it on the middle part above the soboro. I sauteed renkon (lotus root), seasoned it with a little bit of soy sauce and put it above the rice so the soboro would be the ground, the rice would be the background, and the renkon would be the sky. For the moon I put half of a boiled egg. I boiled snowpeas and string beans and put them in the background. To add some color and veggies, I sliced and boiled carrot and cut it into a pumpkin.
I cut turkey cold cuts for the twins’ face and started making their costumes.
One of the twins, Reynold, has a blue robot costume on, but as I said in my blog before, it’s almost impossible to create blue from a natural ingredient, so I had to change it to green. I first made the base of his costume with turkey, then microwaved a leaf of lettuce, trimmed it to fit the turkey and put it on. For the chest plate I sliced a broccoli stem, cut out cheese with a straw and put it on the chest plate.
For his arms and the costume of his twin sister Wren, I sliced & sauteed konnyaku, (yam cake, Konjac in Wikipedia) for her helmet, sword, shield, arms, legs and the tombstone. For the outfit I cut kamaboko (fish cake). I also cut kamaboko for their eyes and cheese for their shoes. I saved putting on seaweed for later and moved on.
Off topic, but konnyaku is a great diet food because it has almost no calories and is very high in fiber. The texture is close to hard jelly and it has no taste. It’s kind of stinky when you take it out a package but the smell will go away once it’s cooked. You can put konnyaku in soup, stew, sukiyaki, sautee it, or even eat it just with miso-based dipping sauce.
For the candy corns, I sliced & cooked carrot and two different kind of cheese. Then I put them on another piece of cheese and cut it into the shape of candy corn.
For the twins’ pink cheeks, I put a little bit of ketchup on the tip of a toothpick and put it on their cheeks.
After everything was placed, it was time to put seaweed in the bento… I always get nervous when I put small pieces of seaweed. It’s a battle against time. Seaweed absorbs moisture very fast, so it has to be placed in the bento quickly at the very end.
I cut seaweed for the the facial features and hair for the twin, bats, jack-o’-lantern, and the “R.I.P” text for the tombstone. I should’ve probably pre-cut the pieces, but I was too tired from working on a plush project and drawing the sketch for the bento the night before. When I pre-cut seaweed pieces in advance, I put the seaweed between paper towels and put it in a ziplock bag so it won’t absorb any moisture.
First I placed the seaweed that used cheese as a base such as the antenna for the robot, their shoes, the bats and the background for “Happy Halloween.” Since the seaweed sticks to cheese it gives me some time before the seaweed starts curling up. Then I placed the pre-cut cheese text for “Happy Halloween” on the sign.
I quickly placed the seaweed for the tombstone, lantern, hair, and their faces. Actually, cutting a colossus from “Shadow of the Colossus” out of seaweed with an exacto knife was a lot easier than cutting letters with scissors.
Since Wren’s hair had no support underneath, I knew it’d curl up, but the seaweed pupil on kamaboko started to curl up a lot faster than I expected.
In the game, a “Smarties” icon is on the top left corner of the screen which is the meter for experience points in the game. Yes, I went out to the supermarket to get Smarties just for this! I never bought just Smarties by itself, and not sure what to do with the rest of them. I hope we’ll get kids for trick-or-treating this Halloween.
Even though my boyfriend took the photos as soon as the bento was made, the seaweed had already started to get wrinkled. T_T A lot of seaweed pieces = so much pain. But it still was a lot of fun to make. Since it was a Halloween themed bento, I didn’t have to worry too much about splashing different colors to make it colorful. I just had to stick to an orange and black color palette for the background. I wish I could’ve made a design different from the official one though!
This game is rated for E10+ but I can see younger audiences having tons of fun playing this game. I started playing the game but haven’t finished it yet. As a huge Dragon Quest fan (“Dragon Warrior” in the U.S.), a game like this with so many quests and items to collect is both fun and bad for me. My boyfriend was watching me play and when he told me that I was getting close to the end I immediately checked my unfinished quests, and went back to previous areas to collect the stamps, cards and costumes I didn’t have yet. I also realized that the monsters I defeated had re-spawned, which means I can grind and level up more… I once leveled up my character in Dragon Quest way too much, and ended up beating the last boss so fast I didn’t have time to open up the junk food I had bought. So much of for a long grueling battle with the last boss… I just can’t help it.