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Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em (Atari 2600) artwork

Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em (Atari 2600) review

"It's rather salty..."

Yummy, yummy, yummy
I've got love in my tummy
And I feel like a-lovin' you

Ohio Express

When playing games in the age of Atari 2600, your imagination told the story. I can only imagine, though I'd rather not, the kinds of stories that Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em had produced. I mean, what material you had to work with! Here we have two buxom babes, both apparently suffering from cerebral palsy, prancing naked around the town in the buff. They catch the attention of a man on a mission, armed with a weapon of impressive girth. Bent on discharging his firearm in public, he fires tiny projectiles down upon the disabled hookers, both of whom are dying to show their bullet-catching trick.

As much fun as you would have had playing a public masturbator, you actually take control of the two women. Summoning the utmost of your Atari paddle talent, you must guide our two heroines as they catch every last drop of man chowder, which our dude above fires erratically across the screen. Each drop is worth a point, and every sixty-nine drops nabs you an extra life.

To this day, I'm still confused as to what Mystique's/Playaround's selling point was: audacity or novelty. It surely wasn't sex appeal, because nothing screams sexy about horribly mangled women attempting to catch yellow liquid secreted by ET in a blond toupee, who is obviously trying to choke out a tape worm.

Let's forget for a moment that blocky nudity comprises our presentation and look at the raw mechanics. Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em hits two points effectively: it's fast-paced and it's simple. Also, moving the ladies requires precision, which is a bona fide Atari skill. As levels advance, the pace quickens and you move more frantically to catch the last droplets. Unfortunately, Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em suffers the same fault that Custer's Revenge does. Before long, the speed picks up so much that you're reduced to twisting the paddles mindlessly and hoping that you happen to catch enough the drops to advance. By that point you're no longer truly playing the game.

Now toss one more complication into the mix: the controls are a tad over-responsive. Even during slow trickles, you'll miss a drop by overshooting it. This adds to the frustration, demeans any hope of finding entertainment, and cheapens the experience. On a platform where games were meant to be simple and addictive, mucking up something like control response can make a huge difference. It's because of this that Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em isn't worth playing. Never mind the silly premise...

I realize, though, that there are some of you who will not heed my warning. You'll figure, "Hey, it's a free download. What's the harm?" I can't argue with that, but those who must play Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em as it was intended to be played will be left with the sourest of tastes in their mouths. The lack of accessibility works against it; there's nothing remotely interesting about Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em that justifies digging up a legit copy. Please, click off of eBay, put away your credit card, and get on with your life.

Good Idea:
Tracking down an Atari 2600 with working paddles.

Bad Idea:
Tracking down an Atari 2600 with working paddles so you can properly play Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em.


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Community review by JoeTheDestroyer (September 30, 2011)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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I'm sure all five people interested in this game will be thrilled to know it isn't terrible.


If you enjoyed this Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!

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Masters posted September 30, 2011:

Nice review, Joe.

Small typo: "Beat 'Em & Eat 'Em hits two point effectively..."

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JoeTheDestroyer posted September 30, 2011:

Nice catch! I fixed that and the redundant part at the beginning that was redundant.
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bloomer posted October 01, 2011:

"It adds to the frustration, demeans the fun, and cheapens the experience."

The experience of playing Beat em and Eat Em can be cheapened? :D
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 04, 2011:

Sure, if you ignore the large hanging appendage and bird-hipped nude girls and focus on just the gameplay. Sadly, doing that takes some zen-like powers that most humans don't possess.
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bloomer posted October 04, 2011:

Your review reminded me of lots of 8-bit stuff. Sometimes it remains legitimate to this day that an 8-bit game only gets more difficult by getting faster, or throwing more enemies in the same space. But as you say, some takes on this (like in Beat em) are just impractical.

I have an Apple II game called Genesis which is controlled by a paddle, and it's not just that the playfield gets faster, but the response to the controls becomes aggressive to the point that if you turn the paddle fast enough, you can 'teleport' around the screen, rather than move through all points inbetween. Given you may wish to teleport past gaps in the wall your spider is walking on, this could be considered an advantage, but in the end - the game only has 6 levels, and I think that was just the manner of programming at the time. They just attached the speed of -everything- to whatever level you were on, and didn't really evaluate the consequences.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted October 04, 2011:

Indeed. Even though it was essentially the same game as Beat 'Em, I always enjoyed Kaboom! Maybe it was the better control response that made it a better game, maybe it was the fact that it was a blast (pun maybe intended) to play with a friend. I actually became quite good at that game for a while, and haven't been able to rise to such a competent level today.

Genesis sounds interesting. I'll have to give it a look.
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SamildanachEmrys posted October 04, 2011:

Nice. I enjoyed the phrase 'horribly mangled women trying to catch yellow liquid secreted by ET in a blond toupee', it made me chuckle aloud, and I like the 'good idea, bad idea' bit at the end.

I always enjoyed Kaboom!

Ah, Kaboom! My brother and I spent many hours slaving over that. Good times.

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