Fast Food (Telesys, 1982)
Mixed feelings on this one. Fast Food is certainly a fast, fun game that I would recommend having in your collection. However, every once in a while I’m inclined to judge a game from a 1982 perspective. In other words, would I have felt ripped off if I spent $20 on it back in the day? Due to its shallow gameplay, I’d have to say yes. In Fast Food you guide a sentient mouth around a board, eating flying pizzas, hamburgers, french fries and other treats. The only food to avoid is the purple pickles, which will end your game if you swallow six of them. The graphics are nice and colourful; unlike, say, Megamania’s hamburgers, every food item is clearly identifiable. The “You’re getting fatter” message at the end of each wave is a nice touch. However, there comes a point where the food starts flying so ridiculously fast that it’s virtually impossible to avoid the purple pickles. There is such a thing as a game being too challenging, especially when it reaches above and beyond what the average person’s hand-eye coordination can handle. But even if it’s not the game’s problem and I just suck, Fast Food still doesn’t offer a lot of lasting game play value. C
Fatal Run (Atari, 1990)
Well, I’m gonna have to come back to this one. My ROM for this game is buggy. Gonna try to buy it along with the 7800, which is next on my list of Atari hardware.
Fathom (Imagic, 1983)
Fathom is a strange game. Even after a couple of plays and multiple readings of the instruction manual I still wasn’t entirely sure what I was supposed to be doing. Once you figure it out, though, it’s a rewarding experience that offers system-atypical gameplay depth.
The main goal is to search air and sea for pieces of a trident that can free Neptune’s imprisoned daughter at the bottom of the sea. Your character alternates between a dolphin and a seagull. As the dolphin, you swim under the sea eating sea horses. Eating enough of the sea horses gives you access to starfish that provide pieces of the trident or give you the ability to change into the seagull. The seagull has a similar mission in the sky, collecting pink clouds that work in the same way. The seagull/sky levels are by far the hardest part of the game, employing a Joust-style flight mechanic to collect clouds and avoid wave upon wave of point-sucking black birds (you’re given 50 points to start but they deteriorate quickly if you touch the birds in the air or the octopi underwater).
Every time you rescue Neptune’s daughter the process starts over again with an expanded playfield and more difficulty collecting pieces of the trident. The whole concept of collecting three parts of a Macguffin to achieve a goal reminded me of E.T., but Fathom is tons more sophisticated. It can also be extremely frustrating at first, so I recommend patience when starting out as well as a thorough reading of the instructions. Do so and you will be rewarded with a game that will provide hours of entertainment. Oh yeah, and the graphics are quite something too – loads of colour, realistic animation and lots of variability between screens. B+
Final Approach (Apollo, 1982)
Just awful. Trying to figure out Final Approach has put my latest update on hold by about a week now and I refuse to spend any more time on it. In real life, I’m sure being an airport controller is an exciting and rewarding career. As an Atari 2600 game, not so much. You are in charge of four aircraft and your job is to bring them in for a safe landing. To do this you take control of each aircraft (which are otherwise just flying willy-nilly all over the place) one at a time and guide them towards the strobe lights in the middle of the screen. To bring the plane down the runway, you switch to a truly-incomprehensible landing screen in which you do . . . something. Classic Game Room’s Lord Carnage called Final Approach “the opposite of fun” and that sums it up pretty well. F
Fire Fighter (Imagic, 1982)
Fire Fighter is a wonderful game idea hampered by poor design and an infuriating control system. Your job is to rescue a man from a burning building while dousing the flames with your hose, which has access to a limited amount of water. Once you’re done dousing the flames, you position the fire truck’s ladder against any one of the building’s three to nine floors (depending on the variation) and then climb the building to rescue the poor schmuck. It sounds fun, but the system involved in positioning and extending the ladder is extremely frustrating. This is the kind of game that makes you wish to God that someone back in 1977 would have given the Atari joystick an extra button. To adjust the position of the ladder you must:
- Make sure your fire fighter isn’t on the ladder (he jumps on and off quite easily)
- Holding the fire button, press down to put the ladder in the lowest possible position
- With the fire button still depressed, angle the ladder towards whichever floor the rescuee is on and
- Pointing the joystick up, extend the ladder up towards that floor.
Does that sound like a lot of effort? It is, especially considering that by the time you’ve done all that, the fire victim usually makes his way down to the first floor anyway, rendering all that time you took with the ladder moot.
Fire Fighter is an oddball. Although I’ve spent most of this review complaining about the difficulty of some aspects of the gameplay, overall it’s just too easy. As the Video Game Critic pointed out, the limited water doesn’t even become an issue until variation nine; you can easily douse the flames with the water on hand up until that point. There’s no real sense of urgency – the fire victim never appears to actually die if you don’t rescue him by a certain point. The only challenge is beating your best time, which is also rendered moot because the time simply accumulates with no end in sight as you continue through the levels.
Fire Fighter was released by Imagic, making it something of an odd duck from a company that could generally could be counted on for quality games (just see my above review of Fathom for example). I will say in its favour that once you figure out the controls, Fire Fighter offers a somewhat, um, relaxing gaming experience. But is that really what you’re looking for in a video game? D+
Fire Fly (Mythicon, 1983)
God, what a miserable selection of games all in a row. I never realized how bad some alphabetical clusters of games were until I took on this project. Some people consider Fire Fly the worst 2600 game ever. I don’t think it’s quite that bad, but it sure as hell ain’t good either. You’re basically a firefly (although the sprite looks like a clown to me) flying around shooting a variety of objects including pumpkin heads, snakes and, uh, other stuff while collecting treasure. There’s a “pixy” (Mythicon’s spelling, not mine) you’re supposed to free but she is always surrounded by bees. You can’t shoot the bees so rescuing the pixy is pretty much impossible. Basically Fire Fly is your standard 2600 shovelware – what sets it apart is the godawful soundtrack: three bars of what is supposed to be some kind of musical ditty on an endless loop and it’s just horrendous. That and the repetitive gameplay earn Fire Fly a D, and I’m being generous.