Review: Food Fight (Atari 7800)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out the interestingly unique action game Food Fight. This game was released on the Atari 7800.

This particular version was released in 1987. It was ported from the arcade which was released a few years earlier.

In this game, you play the character Charley Chuck. You are pitted against a number of chefs. Your goal for each level is to eat the melting ice cream cone on the other side of the playing field. The faster you get there, the more points you earn from completing this goal. Along the way, there are piles of food you can pick up and use. You automatically pick up food, though you can only carry one chunk of food at a time. Each enemy chef you encounter will only require one hit to be taken out. Each chef you take out nets you 100 points. After taking out a chef, there’ll be a brief moment with one less chef on the screen before another one appears from one of the numerous holes throughout the playing field. So, there’ll be a constant stream of chefs going after you and you have a limited supply of food to defend yourself with.

There are numerous ways you can use up your, initially, three lives in this game. If you touch one of the chefs, you lose a life. If a chef picks up a piece of food and hits you with it, you die. In both cases, dying in this manner causes all of the food on the screen to fly at you. You can also die by accidentally falling into one of the holes the chef’s re-spawn through, so watch your step if they cluster around the ice cream cone.

For each piece of food that wasn’t used in the level, you’ll earn an additional 100 points. So using less food can earn you more points in the round – though this can be a risk for your survival should you try and go for a minimalist approach by using as little food as possible in this game. What’s really good in this game is the fact that for every 100,000 points you earn, you get a free life. Given how fast paced this game can be, earning 100,000 points isn’t too terribly difficult on the easier settings.

As you progress through the levels, you’ll notice that everything moves around faster. At first, you have more than enough of a window for reaction time. As you progress through the levels, however, everything moves faster, thus closing that window of reaction time gradually. A common way to ramp up the difficulty in games at the time.

I have to say, when I first saw the playing field, I grew worried. I wasn’t sure how enjoyable this game could be. As I started playing and quickly learned just how this game works, this game gradually became quite fun. Given how seemingly simple this game is, I was generally surprised at just how fun this game ultimately is. It has a fun premise of a giant food fight, but there are so many ways this game could flop. It ultimately never did flop in my opinion and it remained to be a rather fun game to play.

What really knocked this game out of the park for me was the random instant replay you get. I never expected to see something like that in an Atari game. When it popped up, it became a pleasant surprise I never really saw coming and it was fun to just watch a replay of me playing that level. It’s short, yet it shows pretty much every messy splat I made on my trek to the ice cream cone.

Graphically, this game was nicely done for the hardware limitations found in the Atari system. Unfortunately, with NES being around by the time this made it’s way to the Atari 7800, the graphics still seem somewhat dated thanks to that stark black background and larger pixel size. Still, the animation sequences found in this game were quite well done. It had a very cartoon style to it. The developers really had a way of getting a lot of mileage out of the pixel limitation.

The audio was also nicely done given the hardware limitations. Everything had it’s own jingle. While the in game portions only had sound effects, these blank spaces in music ultimately became limited in the grand scheme of things. I really didn’t notice the portions with no music too much. Compared to the audio capabilities of the NES games floating around at the time, this game is still a little dated in comparison. Still, it was nicely done.

Overall, the audio and graphics aren’t exactly up to the standards of games on other consoles at the time. Still, this game really holds its own given the hardware limitations found in the console. The game doesn’t seem like much on the surface, but once you start playing, you’ll see just how much charm this game holds. It’s probably one of the best Atari 7800 games I’ve ever played.

Overall

Furthest point in game: Made it to level 25 on Beginner and level 10 on Intermediate.

General gameplay: 20/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 80%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85



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