Insert Disk collects Fast Food for the Commodore Amiga.
Today’s retro game review is Fast Food for the Commodore Amiga. This retro gaming classic was a well received spin-off game in the Dizzy Egg series. Clearly inspired by the classic game Pac-Man but Fast Food is a game with a life of its own. It’s bright, cheerful and downright fun to play. If you enjoy top-down maze running games Fast Food is highly likely to appeal to you as it hasn’t lost any of its retro charm.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. Today I’d like to take you back to a time when games were simpler than today and to my mind, quite often more entertaining. These were the days when games were taken to market by small studios or even individuals. Every now and again you would find that something just worked even if it was simple and that’s certainly the case with the character that features in today’s episode. Join me today as a take a look back at Fast Food for the Amiga starring Dizzy (the egg). At a future date I will perhaps make an end-to-end retrospective of the entire Dizzy series but for now I just wanted to focus on one of the earlier games that created some great personal memories.
For those that are living outside the UK you may be saying to yourself, Dizzy, what is Dizzy and why are there so many games? Well, Dizzy the egg is very much a British institution. If you had a micro-computer or Amiga back in the 80’s then Dizzy was the egg for you. Created by the Oliver the Dizzy series can be seen as two distinctive channels. There is the core series of games all with similar platforming puzzle fetch quests and on the other side the spin-off games. Dizzy’s first outing in the core series was Dizzy – The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure for the Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC in 1987. With the game doing well for itself the first spin-off game “Fast Food” was released for a number of machines in the same year. The Commodore Amiga version being the most technically advanced of the releases which you’re seeing here.
This first spin-off took its lead from Pac-Man. It’s essentially a maze game but with a few quirks thrown in for good measure. You’ll notice instantly that the game is really bright and colourful and the soundtrack is really pleasant to listen to. The aim is simple, all you have to do is collect the items of food and avoid the monsters that will kill you with one hit. Now this is all very much standard fare for a maze game. It’s the attention to detail though that really adds a level of complexity in to the game play. As with the ghosts in Pac-Man each item of Fats Food has its unique behaviour. Burgers are blind so travel around the maze not knowing where Dizzy is. Chickens will run away from you at all costs. The only way to catch them is by heading them off and trapping them. Pizzas have a standard wandering mechanic and the milkshakes have a somewhat suicidal tendency to gravitate towards Dizzy. This all adds up to some great strategy. Typically you should attempt the chickens first if you can as they will have more obstacles by way of the other Fast Food to be cornered by in the early stages.
Of course there’s also power ups. Magic boots so that you can run faster than any other item on screen. Relish to slow down the monsters, Mustard to freeze the monsters and ketchup to completely destroy the monsters. There’s also a range of shields, invisibility speed ups and slow downs. The bottom line is that Fast Food has so many power ups and variations in the game mechanics that the game feels incredibly fresh even 3 decades after its initial launch. It’s fair to say that elements clearly borrowed with pride from Pac-Man are only thinly concealed. Elements such as the mini-interludes are very much in the same vein. Personally it would be an injustice to the game though to just call this one a blatant rip-off. You can see where the Oliver twins aspired to inject their own style on the maze running genre. Dizzy is a really charming little character and when combined with the cheerful music and novelty food items there’s just something incredibly joyful about this game.
In terms of packaging the Amiga release is really decent. For those that collect the early Codemasters games you’ll be very familiar with the clear case format. These actually build out in to a really great game library. The sleeve is really well illustrated and reflects the slightly quirky nature of the Dizzy series as a whole. The back of the sleeve has some interesting elements. Take this endorsement from Zzap Magazine: “Fast food is a classic… very playable”. So that’s short and to the point. No grand verdict just “very playable” and to tell you the truth it is.
The features too rally understate the experience in my opinion, Munch Mania! Ok, so that’s a feature. Multi-level music, very good. Wacky cartoons! Always appreciated. Over 30 maze scenes. Excellent, that beats a fair number of similar title in the genre.
The disk is of course present as are the instructions and help numbers. So if you need help with your Rockstar or Little Puff call these numbers. In terms of pricing this one was originally sold at £6.99. How do I know, well its plasters all over the cover. In truth you can pick the Amiga version up for around the £5 price point today. So is it worth the price of entry or should you proceed to the drive through on this one? Personally I really enjoy this one. For a first spin-off game in the series Fast Food does well in taking Dizzy on a very self-contained arcade style experience. We get to see a bit more humour that the first main game in the series and a further glimpse of potential in to the star that Dizzy was to become in later years. Fast Food is a really well balanced game, lots to enjoy, lots of variation on a theme and a really solid experience for a game that was essentially a holding game until the second core game in the series was released.
Of course that day would come. One year after Dizzy – The Ultimate Cartoon Adventure and Fast Food, Dizzy broke out in to the second adventure in the core series. To some the game is known as Dizzy 2, to others Treasure Island Dizzy. Join me in the next episode as I take a nostalgic look back at the game that propelled this un-supposing egg in to the stratosphere of British gaming.
It also happens to be one of my favourite games of all time so will definitely be worth checking out.