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Fast Food - The Atari Times

Fast Food

Have some phat fun with this classic
by Ethan C. Nobles

March 8, 2002
Telesys sure published some bizarre games for the Atari 2600, and 1982's Fast Food is no exception. In fact, this is one of the oddest games available for the 2600, but it's also a heck of a lot of fun. This game is so easy to learn that practically anyone old enough to pick up a joystick can join in the action.

This game is centered around a highly unusual -- and innovative -- concept. The player controls Mr. Mouth, a disembodied character with nothing but lips and teeth. The idea is to have Mr. Mouth eat fast food such as hamburgers, root beer and green pickles that fly across the screen at various speeds. The food moves along a few horizontal planes, meaning a lot of items can be on the screen at any given time. Mr. Mouth can be moved at will across the screen.

Now, the only things Mr. Mouth has to avoid are purple pickles. If he catches six of them, Mr. Mouth "burps" and the game is finished. Points are awarded depending on the types of food eaten -- high calorie grub nets a lot of point, while the low-cal stuff doesn't earn the player much. A purple pickle is subtracted from the player's total every 500 points. That leads to some frantic gameplay as someone with five pickles will likely be sweating at higher levels when the game is fast and furious and the point goal is in sight.

That's about it for this game in terms of concept. It's very easy for even small children to figure out and do well at, but this game starts out easy and gets hard in a hurry. Avoiding those purple pickles at higher levels when the action has been speeded up to a ridiculous rate is very difficult, indeed. Sure, the action is repetitive like a lot of 2600 games, but it's also oddly addictive -- I've often found myself vowing to "play just one more game" after Mr. Mouth has eaten his sixth pickle and "burped out."

The graphics in this are sparse, but are drawn quite well. Mr. Mouth is an amusing little character, rather resembling a red Pac-Man with a much larger, detailed mouth and huge lips. Shakes, hamburgers and the like are well-defined and crisply-drawn, and don't appear to "streak" when sailing across the screen. There's absolutely no screen border or background, for that matter -- the playing field is simply black. There's not much in the way of screen flicker, either.

As for sound, there's not much of it there. Sure, you get some bleeps and bloops when Mr. Mouth eats a bit of food, a distinct tone when a purple pickle is eaten and a random blast of digital noise when Mr. Mouth has eaten too many forbidden pickles. The sound isn't great, but it's serviceable.

As for actual gameplay, the standard Atari joystick works very well with this. Control is pretty darn precise, which is necessary at higher levels. Speaking of those levels, the food flying across the screen starts flying very rapidly. There are times when the player will only see a purple pickle when it's too late to avoid it. The game is divided into several levels that clock in at around less than a minute, and the player sees a message that he's "getting fatter" on the screen and has some time to rest. The game doesn't resume until the joystick button is pressed. The joystick button, by the way, is only used to start or resume this game.

This is just one of those games that reminds folks why the Atari was so darn fun. It's whimsical, addictive and something even small children can enjoy. While there are no game variations to speak of, this simple, fast-paced title has remained enjoyable to me for years. While this cartridge isn't very common, finding it for a good price at a decent online auction site (i.e. eBay) or at your local supplier of classic video games shouldn't prove too difficult.

Fast Food

(c) Telesys

Purple pickles? What's wrong with purple?
Strange and delicious food will slide past hoping to find its way into your onscreen mouth.
The strange mouth actually looks more like a clam...
"You're Getting FATTER" it says. Were this to be written today, it would read, "You're Getting Weight Challenged!"
Fast Food
System: 2600
Publisher: Telesys
Genre: Action
Graphics Score: 80%
Sound & Music Score: 50%
Gameplay Score: 90%
Control Score: %

Final Score: 90%

Reader Comments for Fast Food

Addicting by Howard Parks on 2006-11-14 17:08:33
I play this almost every time I turn on my 2600. I try to get a higher score, while trying to avoid the purple pickels.
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