Game of the Week (12/10/17) – Food Fight

Spoiler alert! My game of the week, Food Fight, is also my favorite game on the Atari 7800! Atari & GCC’s Food Fight was released in 1983 in arcades and was meant to be a launch title for the 7800 in 1984. As I’ve noted in previous posts, the 7800 launch didn’t exactly happen the way Atari had initially planned but by 1987, Food Fight was widely available for owners of the latest Atari hardware. Unlike a lot of the other arcade ports that filled the 7800 game roster in 1986-1987 (e.g. Ms. Pac Man, Asteroids, Ms. Pac Man, Dig Dug, etc.), Food Fight had not been available on any other home console prior. It eventually found its way onto Atari’s computer/console hybrid, the XEGS, the same year.

In Food Fight, you play as a boy named Charley who has a serious hankering for ice cream cones. Unfortunately for him, a gang of overzealous chefs are attempting to thwart his lactose & sugar intake by inciting a food fight…to the death. Thankfully, Charley is adept at the time honored technique of dodging flying food stuff while simulatenously dishing it out to his tormentors. Charley will start each stage on the right side of the screen and the ice cream cone is situated somewhere along the left side, slowly melting. In the middle of the screen will be piles of food; pies, peas that look like spinach, bananas, tomatoes and watermelon that can be used by Charley to throw at the chefs while they do the same in return. All of the food, with the exception of watermelon, is in limited supply so Charley must be careful with his throws.

The chefs pop out of holes in the floor and while some of the holes close back up after they pop out, some will stay open and offer another type of hazard for Charley and the chefs. Charley also loses a life if he is hit with any of the food that is thrown at him from the chefs, if he touches one of the chefs directly, or if the ice cream cone melts before he can eat it. Early levels feature fewer slower and less aggressive chefs and as the game progresses, both Charley and the chefs move quicker and the chefs start the levels closer to Charley on the right side of the screen. One technique I employ when playing Food Fights is grabbing extra food before I eat the ice cream cone. Charley will carry that piece of food over to the next stage which gives him immediate ammunition to fight off those chefs close by. Eating the ice cream cone while leaving piles of food on the screen will increase the amount of points you earn. As you might expect, you can earn points by hitting chefs with food as well as luring them over open pits, so there’s more than one way to score big points in Food Fight.

A cool feature of Food Fight is the instant replay when Charley narrowly avoids getting splattered. This doesn’t always happen but I almost never get through a game where it doesn’t re-play an entire stage for me showing how many close calls I had. I usually use this time to give my aching hand a rest thanks to the crummy 7800 controllers.

In all, Food Fight is one of the titles I think of when I think of the Atari 7800 thanks in part to being a seriously fun game plus one that really isn’t available on many other home consoles. I think either this game or Ms. Pac Man would have made an awesome pack-in title for the 7800 and really provide prospective owners something special and unique. Regardless, Food Fight is top notch entertainment.

Rating: A

Currently in my collection: game, manual

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