Friday, September 3, 2021

Video Games: Overcooked 2 & Wheelchair-User Rep

The Overcooked franchise (debuting in 2016) is a game series where little chefs work together in obstacle-laden kitchens to deliver food to customers within a time limit. Each level amps the difficulty into a chaotic frenzy of tossed food (no health inspectors involved), fires, and lost orders. Players must get high enough scores to unlock new areas and characters.

The first Overcooked had a raccoon in a wheelchair (he's also unlockable in the sequel). Some people, like me, adored the furry little guy and how he could keep up with the rest of the chefs. Others weren't as thrilled, "why isn't it human?" I still don't have an answer, but it never bothered me much. 

Image: A brown raccoon with no legs sits in a gray wheelchair with a yellow seat. He is smiling and giving a "thumbs up" with his right hand (but has no arm). His chef hat is a soft blue and his uniform is white and red with six black buttons down the front. He wears a red cravat. The chair has no armrests or foot pedals (none do).

Overcooked! 2 (debuting a bit over three years ago) added another wheelchair-user to their roster with a DLC pack. She is a stunt woman... an Evel Knievel on double the wheels! I was immediately drawn to her boldness. A badass woman zipping around and killing it? Yes, more of this!

Image: A caucasian, puppet-like character faces the screen. Her wheelchair is red, white, and blue with stars on the back tires. Her hands have white gloves with a red star in the middle and her outfit is similar to the raccoon's except for the pilot's hat and goggles under her chef's hat with a star on her cravat. A cape is hinted at behind her. She has a smear of batter near the left side of her mouth. A rocket is seen by the right side of her head (attached to the chair).

Skins (changes to an existing character) brought us a Black grandmother who has a dynamite pair of glasses. She looks like she's in on the world's biggest secret which is quite a feat... considering the somewhat simplistic artstyle of the series.

Image: On a two-tone gray background sits a Black woman with full cheeks in a gray and steel blue wheelchair with grip-rims on the back tires. She's holding one hand to her mouth and holding up the other in either a "hello" or "wait" gesture. Black, curly hair sneaks out around the bottom of her light blue chef's hat. Her uniform is a medium blue and looks like the raccoon's. She wears gold hoop earrings and neon pink cat's eye sunglasses.

Every being in a wheelchair goes the same speed as everyone else. People in manual wheelchairs still have both hands ready for serving up requests... without someone pushing them. The lack of realism isn't a deal breaker when your fellow chefs are a unicorn and a walrus, though. 

I haven't seen other types of disability representation in the franchise, but that doesn't mean it won't exist down the road. It might even exist now, since there are characters I came across in my research that I never saw while playing either Overcooked game. It's nice to see a crip is allowed to burn down a kitchen just like everyone else.

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