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Food Fight - The Atari Times

Food Fight

Fist fight? Heck no, FOOD FIGHT!
by Darryl Brundage

June 3, 2004
Which would be more fun, coming up with a game involving a snooty, do-gooder prep, or one that involves making a juvenile mess out of everything? Right, I wanna see those preps get dumped by their girlfriend Muffy and ride off with a biker dude on a Harley too.

Recalling a memory of John Belushi yelling "Food fiiiiight!" in the movie Animal House (and thank God a sequel was never made to that comedy classic, y'know?) comes a video game by Atari of the same name (Food Fight, I mean). In it, you, as a kid named Charley Chuck, must make it to the left side of the screen where the ice cream cone always is and eat it before it melts.

Standing (or throwing, rather) in your way are the chefs Jacques, Zorbra, Oscar, and Angelo...ok, with names like that, what are they, Greek? Italian? If it's the latter, man, why is it that so many games back then (in the 1980s) involved Italians?! I mean, you had the Donkey Kong games, along with this and the extraordinarily rare 2600 game Mangia, the latter two involving Italians AND food, and who knows what other games there were out there involving that heritage. Should they be proud, I wonder? It's hard to say...

Well, anyway, the chefs are in a really bad mood, and they try to stop Chuck from making it to the ice cream cone. I don't know what Chuck did, but it must've been pretty bad; maybe he caused
something to fall when it needed to rise, and it got a rise out of these guys, all right.

Littered throughout each and every screen are food items as far as the eye can see. Instead of eating anything (except for the cone), you most *throw* everything in order to survive: there are piles of bananas, parsley, pies and more to toss at the chefs, and they'll also do their best to toss a few food items at you as well in order to take you out of the game.

There are also holes scattered throughout the screen; if they're closed, you can walk right over them, but if they're open, you'll fall and lose a life. I don't know where these holes go to -- maybe they were left over from the Atari-distributed game Dig Dug? -- but whenever you nail a chef with a piece of food, he goes running off the screen, but then he'll reappear a few seconds later, coming out of one of the holes.

Your character moves somewhat slow, though, but at least he responds well to the controls, and the sounds and music add nice little touches to the game. I didn't like the way Chuck was drawn, though, with his big head (it bothers me, for some reason), which gets much more huge once he eats the cone whole, but the animations more than make up for this, especially when a new round starts, and the chefs' heads rise up, all at the same time, ready to try to take down the menace Food Kitchen Kid from Hell (I'm assuming) once more.

And the FOOD! Parsley is a good, short-range weapon, due to it being wide, whereas throwing a banana makes it look like a yellow boomerang as it tumbles across the screen (plus it's range is far greater than the latter), and every five screens is a bonus screen, which contains watermelon, which a watermelon's supply never runs out: the more you stand at a stack of food and throw it in the direction of the chefs, you will use it up, but a watermelon's supply never gets spent. So stand at a watermelon and throw away to your heart's content, until that ice cream cone looks pretty melted away, then make a run for it while you have a piece of food in your hand.

Even with it's messy premise, this is one of THE cutest games ever made. It's violent nature is softened by replacing bullets, punches or karate chops (hmmm, I wonder what comedian Gallagher, the watermelon-smashing guy, thinks of this game?) with food, which only makes it funny, especially when you get nailed by a ration, which the remaining food on the screen all piles on top of you! Also, when a near-miss of a piece of eats occurs, for some reason you're treated (pardon the pun) to an instant replay of the wave you were just on; ok, whatever, but that's just more Atari ingenuity for you, and even the high score screen is cute, with Chuck constantly throwing a line of food at a letter until you select it as one of your initials.

A very decent version of this game was ported to the 7800, so I'd pick up a copy of that if you can find it, if you have a 7800 (this was one of the first games I got myself when I bought my friend's 7800), you won't regret it.

"Food Fight: the messiest fun you can have in your room" the ads should've said when the home version was released, although that sounds kinda naughty. (Plus the stingy preps probably wouldn't get that one anyway.)

Zorba the great got his start in a video game.
This game is easy as pie... er cake...
The man, the myth, the legend that is Charley Chuck.
Food Fight
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 85%
Sound & Music Score: 100%
Gameplay Score: 95%
Control Score: 93%

Final Score: 90%

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