The Game: The orders are flying fast and furious. The customers are waiting. The clock is ticking. And you’re the only short-order cook in the kitchen. Your job is simple: arrange a series of hamburgers with ingredients indicated by the symbols at the bottom of the screen. Don’t waste any condiments if you can help it, and whatever you do, don’t make a burger with toppings and condiments and then drop it into the wrong delivery chute. If you fill all the orders correctly in the time allotted, you might just get promoted to manager…but chances are, you’ll have to do it all again, only faster this time. (Activision, 1983)
Memories: This jewel of a game was the second Activision release for Garry Kitchen, who would later bring himself – and Activision – acclaim for a computer program called Game Maker. But for now, Kitchen had recently signed up, along with his brother, as the east coast branch of a company who – along with any other video game company that expected to stay in business – was decidedly located on the west coast. He already had a solid pedigree in the form of a slightly obscure shoot-’em-up, Space Jockey, published by Vidtec (later known as U.S. Games), and a little best-seller called Donkey Kong. He had also been one of the engineers responsible for the very popular miniature electronic pinball game, Wildfire.
Kitchen didn’t have to look far for inspiration for his second Activision game; Pressure Cooker‘s relentless grind of burger-making is reality for anyone who’s worked in the food service industry – or anyone who’s ever taken a break from game design to partake of fast food, for that matter. The game is aptly named, too, as you’re almost certain to make at least one burger that nobody wants to pay for. Actually, if you only make one misfire in a round, you can safely let your gamer ego get super-sized: it’s not telling a whopper to say you’re good at it.
Pressure Cooker was a tasty treat that proved yet again that Activision’s New Jersey satellite office was capable of delivering the goods. The best was yet to come from this game’s Kitchen. (And he’s still at it, incidentally – programming iPhone games, no less.)