The Game: Poor Charley Chuck. He just wants to make it across the screen and eat that big, inviting ice cream cone before it all melts away. But there are a bunch of chefs who want to stop him. This, of course, means war – an all out food fight breaks out. Charley and the chefs can both grab whatever morsels are at hand and fling them at each other. If Charley beans a chef, that chef temporarily disappears, but if Charley gets nailed too many times, he’s force-fed a solid diet of game over. (Atari, 1984 – released in 1987)
Memories: Food Fight on the Atari 7800 almost has an unfair advantage: both the coin-op and this home version were programmed by General Computer, a subcontractor which handled many of Atari’s better home ports of arcade games. In addition to their usual skill in transferring arcade games to home consoles, this time they had intimate knowledge of the original too.
The result is a super-smooth translation of Food Fight that gets most of the important details right on the money. It looks and sounds like the arcade game, and if anything, the control scheme is necessarily simplified – but not in a way that gives the player a watered-down experience. It’s easy to figure out where Charley’s aiming, and easy enough to change that aim before he lets loose with a flying pie.
Sadly, by the time this game finally hit the shelves – three years after its original development, when Tramiel-era Atari decided to haul the 7800 out of mothballs to compete with the NES – not only had the standards of home versions of arcade games changed, but so too had the standard of arcade games themselves. As far as a new generation of gamers was concerned, Food Fight was old news – a sad fate for an otherwise excellent game.