Playing with Your Food: Fast Food Videogames

There are many strange subgenres in the increasingly vast world of videogames. One of the strangest -- and oldest -- has to be the fast food video game. Usually a marketing tie-in, these games are rarely popular or fun, but the burger congloms, ever in a frenzy to reach their target market (a demographic who also happens to like videogames), they keep making them. Here are some of our fast food faves.

Burgertime

Unlike most titles on this list, this game is a genuine classic. Popular in arcades when it was first introduced in 1982, Burgertime quickly emigrated from Japan to the US and from arcades to home consoles. The player controls a chef, Peter Pepper, who must construct a burger while avoiding his three mortal enemies, Mister Pickle, Mister Egg and Mr. Hot Dog. (Some people like pickles and eggs on burgers, so I'm not sure what the animosity here is all about.) In terms of gameplay, Burgertime is clearly a close relative of Donkey Kong, but its sequels didn't do nearly as well: most people have played Donkey Kong Jr. and the ubiquitous Mario games, but Burgertime follow-up Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory didn't exactly catch on. Here's a nostalgia-inducing (for some) commercial from the 80s for Burgertime:

McKids

Perhaps trying to capture some of Burgertime's magic, the 1993 Nintendo game McKids was a poorly-conceived entry into the game market and yet another Super Mario Brothers 3 rip-off. You play a kid who's entered into the magic McDonald's fantasy world in a quest to retrieve Ronald's magic bag, which was stolen by the Hamburglar. McDonald's reportedly wasn't happy with the game, and dampened their own sales by refusing to market the game properly.

Fast Food

Another vintage food game, Fast Food was released in 1982 for the Atari 2600. You control a pair of disembodied lips which move frantically around the screen trying to consume as much flying fast food as possible. The objective is to get fat, but if you eat too many rotten purple pickles, you barf up all the food you've eaten and have to begin again. A truly strange game. Here's a funny review, which includes a NSFW word or two, FYI.

Burger King Games

As part of a recent marketing campaign (which seems to revolve around their company's mascot being strange and creepy), Burger King released several small-scale videogames featuring The King. You play The King, who beams down into the world in order to feed hungry people -- not starving orphans in Micronesia, but already-plump Westerners with insatiable cravings for fried meat. And you do it with a kind of burger-tastic Jujitsu. I don't know if they sold any more hamburgers for having made this game, but it's definitely entertaining.

Ronald McDonald, Street Fighter

I can't quite figure out what this is, but I do know one thing: it's wonderful. It appears to be some kind of Japanese game hack, using definitely-not-licensed characters like Homer Simpson, Ronald McDonald and KFC's Colonel in a Street Fighter kind of milieu. Fast-paced, violent, and full of nonsense pop culture references. Genius!

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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