If you've ever watched Pee Wee's Playhouse (the classic Saturday morning TV show), it's hard to forget the wild contents of Pee Wee's refrigerator. Nearly every episode, the bow-tied man/child would throw open the ol' Norge and marvel at the latest stop-motion animated antics of carrots, eggs, hams, popsicles and strawberries, all of which had grown arms, legs and comically expressive faces.
I don't know how fashionable it is to admit to having watched every episode of Pee Wee's Playhouse, all I know is that it's the first thing I thought of when I saw Kung Food for the Atari Lynx. This beat-em-up has "classic" written all over it. Like Battletoads on the NES and Game Boy, it's a totally unpredictable free-for-all that combines a challenging punch-and-kick play mechanic with a great sense of humor that seems to catch you off guard at every turn.
A hilarious plot explains how a researcher at a video game design center created a mysterious substance that brought his groceries to life and changed him into a foot-tall Jolly Green Giant look alike. The adventure starts in the freezer and refrigerator, where our hero is threatened by icicle beasts, walking creatures and stick-wielding sausage monster; it continues onto the floor, through the kitchen and out into the front yard. The game is fairly challenging, but the abundance of power-up items helps a lot.
Graphically, the game is a pure delight. Most of the characters are half as tall as the screen display, and, like the backgrounds, they're extremely detailed and colorful. With "normal" heroes and villains, this would basically come across as a Double Dragon clone - but the characters and settings are so off-the-wall that it doesn't seem right to compare the game to any other.
I had a great time with Kung Food, and it's a shame that this game never received any sequels. Sure the concept is silly, but I rather like the idea of walking around and beating up food. I'd rather do that from time to time than play yet another fighting game with realistic looking characters and boring old cityscapes. Kung Food is silly fun, and that's exactly the reason why I love it.