Thursday, July 12, 2018

Atari Emulator -> Pie Man

Do things from the past ever reach out to you in your brain?  For the longest time, I all but forgot about "Fred Garvin: Male Prostitute."  I forget what brought it back, probably one of those SNL Best Of shows or SNL documentaries that they now have way, way too many of... but it came over me like a wave of anti-nostalgia, and there it was front and center again.  But every once in a while, maybe as your brain cells slowly die off, an old memory is triggered.  In this case, as you can see from the blog title post, and perhaps the attached picture as well, that old "Pie Man" video game came back to me.  Mostly the music.  For music compilations on these old Atari games, Preppie! 1 is the first one to come to mind.  That had some good music.  You could really get your game on to that... and it was actual music, too!  Something that fell into the public domain, I'm guessing.  "I was strolling through the park one day, picking up golf balls along the way..."  Pie Man is the rare game to attempt multi-tempo music.  Okay, there's arguably just two tempos, but still... maybe three.  There seems to be eight songs in the Pie Man playlist.  And two channels, no less!  "Pinhead" only has a one-channel playlist of songs, and if memory serves... I think it's all one tempo.  I mean, these are programmers making all this stuff, not musicians here.
As for the game itself, well... basically, you're a baker whose job it is to make pies.  A pie man, if you will.  Alas, they make the job look a little too simple.  Well, this is the Atari we're talking about, after all.  You gotta cram one game into 16K.  That's 16,384 bytes now!  Not 16MB, as used to be a PC minimum once upon a time.  Anyway, unlike the game Homer Simpson got addicted to on his SmartPhone (TM) (R) (C) that had four actions, you basically have three here in Pie Man.  You add whipped cream to a pie crust, put a cherry on top, then take it over to the finished pie section.  It's almost a version of Frogger, if the goal were to take something out of the top part of the maze, rather than installing yourself into it.
Naturally, there are obstacles along the way.  Every once in a while, probably every two minutes, some doofus comes walking through your workspace, making a circular motion, carrying a bunch of boxes.  If you hit him, you make a noise and stop.  And if you're carrying something when you hit him... scratch that, when HE HITS YOU... that thing you're carrying disappears.  Could be a pie piece, could be a whole pie... GONE.  Gone in a New York instant... hmm!  This could actually be advantageous at times.  See, as with most good games, things speed up the more you play.  As the pie shells come on faster and faster, and there are more obstacles to walk around, you might have to lose a whole pie in order to save one from falling.  That's the other thing: you have to finish a pie by the time it gets to the end of the ... treadmill.  Words fail me.  Conveyor belt, that's it.  It's like that Lucy sketch where she and Ethel end up stuffing their bras with candies, once they've ran out of mouth space to store them.
So all that game play's not quite interesting enough.  We need one more element.  I mean, this is the nationals!  This is an ATARI game we're talking about.  Not something for the whores that use a Vic 20, no no no.  They'd stoop to anything, for God's sake!  And so, the longer you play, the more obstacles appear on the work room floor.  And they're abstract art obstacles, too.  That's a little unique.  The white ones are clearly Jackson Pollack-inspired piles of lemon meringue.  You can't walk through those.  Then there are red ones, which are probably / clearly piles of vomit after someone went to the Olive Garden and threw up their lasagna with ravioli on top of it.  You can walk through those, but whatever you're carrying disappears.  Again, could be advantageous when you're really down to the wire and you have to burn one pie in order to save one from falling.  You can only drop seven pies off the conveyor belt.  After that, the game's over.  Boy!  Who knew that the baking of pies was so complicated?  An art fraught with extra obstacles.  I used to think the only obstacles a baker of pies had to face was their own stomachs.  Hmm.  Must be why those chef suits are so elastic.
Oh, there's one other thing.  Almost the whole reason I did this in the first place.  Like any good game, there's a list of ranks you'll be forced to ignore.  I'll try to format this so you can cut and paste it into Excel...

RANK --- # of pies required to achieve said RANK


...and that seems to be where the trail runs cold.  Personally, I would've ended with THE EMPEROR'S PERSONAL BAKER, but what do I know.  I didn't research this thing!

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