RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Feb 24th 2011 at 03:00:00 PM by (singlebanana)
Posted under Atari, Pressure Cooker, Retro Gaming, 2600, Classic Gaming, Activision



Game:  Pressure Cooker
Year:  1983
Publisher:  Activision, Inc.
Developer: Activision, Inc. 
Designer(s)/Programmer: Garry Kitchen
Rarity (according to AtariAge): 4 = scarce+
Controls: Joystick
Number of Players: 1 - 2 (turn based)
Average Cost:  $5 - $10 loose
Also Available On:  exclusive to the Atari 2600

Tagline/Description: "Sounds like lunchtime at 'The Grille.'  And behind the counter?  None other than Short-Order Sam.  A man who was born in grease.  Normally thrives under pressure.  Except today.  You see, Sam's automated kitchen is totally out to lunch.  And, with hundreds of hungry customers waiting, he could sure use a helping hand.  So grab your apron and get cookin'.  Come on.  After all, how can you turn down a man whose initials are S.O.S.?"   

With the recent demise of Guitar Hero, I became inspired?? to review, Pressure Cooker, one of the more uncommon titles developed by Activision for the Atari 2600.  During the 2600's lengthy run, Activision developed some of the best and most memorable titles for the system, including River Raid, Spider Fighter, Megamania, Kaboom!, H.E.R.O., and the game which holds the #2 spot on the 2600s all-time best seller list, Pitfall!.  Pressure Cooker was developed in 1983 by Activision, a company formed by group of former disgruntled Atari employees who founded their own company in 1979 and became the first third party software company to sell their wares to Atari during the 2600 era. Recently (in 2007), Activision merged with Blizzard Entertainment, the company at the forefront of PC gaming, to form the video gaming Megalodon, Activision Blizzard, Inc.

Pressure Cooker is one of the first in a long line of action/kitchen video games that includes Burgertime, Piece o Cake, Diner Dash, and the more current Cooking Mama, to name a few.  Its a frantic and fun-filled kitchen adventure in which you control a short-order cook whose job is to fill fast-paced hamburger orders. While burgers and buns move down a conveyor belt on the left side of the screen, ingredients fly at you from dispensers on the right.  Your job is to catch or reject these ingredients (which consist of cheese, onions, tomatoes, and lettuce) and place them on the burger to accurately fill customer orders at the bottom of the screen.  Once you have assembled your burger, it's off to the wrapping room to drop it off in the correct, color-coded wrapping machine and begin the process all over again.  Be sure to catch or reject all the ingredients and don't let any hamburgers fall off the end of the conveyor belt, or you'll lose performance points! If your performance score drops to zero, you are fired and the game ends. As you successfully create orders, the game difficulty increases as the conveyor belt gets faster and the orders become more complex.

Overall Points vs. Performance Points

In Pressure Cooker, the scoring system is based on an overall points system, while instead of having lives your characters survival in the kitchen is determined by performance points.  You begin with 50 performance points and these can be deducted or increased (to a maximum of 99) by poor or good performance respectively.  For every 10,000 overall points that you score, you gain 10 additional performance points.  You will lose performance points for the following reasons:

Wasting or doubling up on an ingredient = -1 point;
Dropping the hamburger in the wrong colored chute or missing the chute = -5 points; or
A hamburger falls off of the conveyor belt = -10 points.

Once you run out of performance points, the game is over.  Overall points are gained by catching ingredients (+5), dropping correct ingredients on a burger (+10), and dropping a burger into the correct wrapping chute (+100).  Bonus efficiency points are also awarded at the end of each round.  Scoring over 45,000 overall points could have won you a bitchin mail-in patch from Activision back in the day.

**check out all of the Activision patches at AtariAge**

Pressure Cooker is a great game and even though I'm partial to shmups like Spider Fighter and Megamania, its one of my favorite Activision titles.  The graphics are colorful and actually pretty nice and well-defined.  Cheese is represented as an orange square, but then again, cheese is basically.....well, an orange square.  The controls are one of the more disappointing aspects of the game.  The precision needed in grabbing ingredients and rejecting them can be cumbersome at times due to the rigidness of the Atari joystick and losing performance points because of this can be frustrating.  The music and sounds of the game are fluid, but the music does become rather tedious and tiring after only a short time.

However, what really separates Pressure Cooker from other 2600 titles, and makes it stand out, is its very original concept and its replay value.  Though a kitchen-based platform doesn't seem like the most interesting of games, the focus required to react and the quick decisions that players must make to read the orders at the bottom of the screen, catch moving ingredients, place them on moving buns, and drop them in the correct wrapping chute, creates a gameplay environment that borrows from and incorporates the best concepts used in puzzle, strategy, and tower defense games.  Such challenging and fast-paced action always makes you want to come back for more.  Pressure Cooker is a great game, and at a fairly affordable price, is a must own for any Activision and/or Atari 2600 fan.   

**video courtesy of AwesomeRickyC**

b]RATINGS (on a scale of 1-4: 4 being the highest):[/b]

Controls: 2
Graphics: 4
Sound Effects/Music: 3
Concept: 4
Replay Value: 3
Cart/Box Art: 2
Overall Score: 3.00

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