So this blog entry is a little special. Today, I will be covering a video game that I got through the I/O on the I/O! I bought this game and a few others from the one and only @chas10e a few weeks back. He's a great guy to deal with.
When you think of classic arcade titles from the golden age, several come to mind before others. In my mind, there are divided into several tiers based off of popularity. Allow me to go off on a little bit of a tangent, but I feel that I need to list them.
- This is the top tier of popular classic arcade games. Not necessarily my absolute favorites, but I feel they still remain popular all these years later. Some examples from this category are Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders, Galaga, and Dig Dug. Even non-gamers have heard of or even played these games before.
- This tier is slightly less popular than the first, though many modern and/or casual gamers have heard of them. Some examples are Galaxian, Xevious, Centipede, Q*Bert, Defender, and Asteroids.
- In this tier, we have games that were popular in their time, but not so much with the more modern crowd. Berzerk, Phoenix, Vanguard, Venture, Crystal Castles, and Moon Patrol all fall under this category in my eyes.
- These games are less popular than the third tier. Many gamers at the time when these were new haven't played or heard of these before. These games tend to be pretty obscure in the modern age. Many are hidden gems. The arcade version of the game we're talking about today, Food Fight, falls under this category, as well as Super Pac-Man, Pac & Pal, Bosconian, and GORF. Not that these games are bad, but they just weren't as popular as the others (though not flops on the market).
- These are the really obscure games, including flops on the market. Many games from the early 1970's fall under this category. Many of these are really obscure, and even serious retro gamers may not have heard of several of them. Examples include Stratovox, Anti-Aircraft, Star Ship One, and Taito's Japan-only Western Gun. I know some of you here have probably heard of most of these.
So anyways, let's start talking about Food Fight already! The arcade version was released in 1983. Though the game was published by Atari, it was actually developed by General Computer Corporation. I won't get into their history now (I'll be saving that should I do a blog on Missile Command or Ms. Pac-Man), but do keep in mind that they were also behind the 7800 system itself. The arcade game used an analog joystick for aiming food in more than eight directions.
The goal of the game is to make your way over to an ice cream cone on the opposite side of the screen before it melts. On your way, you must avoid the chefs and the food they throw at you. If you walk over a pile of food, you'll be able to pick up a piece of it. Once you throw it, you'll have to pick up another before you can shoot again.
Food Fight didn't get a lot of home ports; only two to my knowledge. First, there was the 7800 port, which may have launched during the 7800's test launch in 1984, but saw a nationwide release in 1986. Second, there was the XE version which I believe has a 1987 copyright. The XE port is a sad excuse for a game. It is incredibly choppy, and makes 7800 Hat Trick look smooth. It's a shame, too. Sadly, after these two ports we never saw another release of Food Fight in compilations. In order to play it, you'll have to track down a cartridge for the 7800 or XE or just emulate it. It's a real hidden gem worth trying out.
Well, we did see one rerelease. In fact, it was a completely different port altogether. This version of Food Fight was programmed for the NES for use on the original Atari Flashback in the early 2000's. That version of the Flashback was the only one to use a 7800 design and it even included some of the system's games, Food Fight included. Cool, right? The 7800 needs more love. No, not cool. This is some of the worst "emulation" I have ever seen in my life. The Atari 2600 joystick plug and play from Jakks Pacific a few years earlier also used a similar NES-on-a-chip design, and though it wasn't perfect, it was much better than this. This version of Food Fight was based on the 7800 version rather than the arcade. Kind of reminds me of when the Nintendo arcade games were ported to the 7800 in 1988. Those were based off of their NES counterparts rather than the arcade originals.
This version of Food Fight is the worst of all. They did almost nothing right. Don't even bother. It's somehow worse than the XE version.
The 7800 version of Food Fight does what it does really well. It handles a lot of sprites on screen at once and runs much smoother than the XE version. The graphics are a step down from the arcade; Charley Chuck has dots for eyes and the color palette and pixel resolution are drastically reduced. The sound chip is also inferior. But somehow, Food Fight manages to be one of the best games on the system. The gameplay is still there, the instant replays are still there, the music and sound effects are very good for the TIA chip, and you can even choose your difficulty and starting level. The controls are also really good, which is a bit surprising given how the ProLine controller can only let you aim in eight directions.
If you don't have a 7800, buy it just for this game. It's amazing, and something you won't find in many other places. This is the best version of the game that you can play at home without using emulation. An easy 10/10 game for the system it's on. By far my favorite game on the 7800 so far. Thanks again, @chas10e.