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Do you ever get hungry playing video games? One way to guarantee hunger pangs is to engage in some food-related titles – the more creative the game’s aim, the better!

While games with food might not be as big a draw as an MMO or FPS, they can still be a lot of fun – indeed, one of the most famous games of all time is basically about snacking. But can these games teach us anything about our relationship with food?

Pizza Tycoon

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Many people’s first introduction to foody games was Pizza Tycoon (Pizza Connection in Germany, where it was developed) places you in charge of a fledgling pizza restaurant in the USA or Europe where a wide selection of characters can be chosen, décor applied and recipes developed for your customers and competitions. The secret to success is in spending your budget wisely and appealing to local pizza fans.

Success in the game means staying open, selling pizzas and not falling foul of the competition, which might be just another pizza house… or a Mafia-backed restaurant. You too can work with the Mafia, however, taking missions that can help you to eliminate the competition.

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After its 1994 release Pizza Tycoon (PC and Amiga) was followed by two sequels, Fast Food Tycoon (Pizza Syndicate in Germany) and Fast Food Tycoon 2 (known in Germany as Pizza Connection 2). The original remains the best, however.

Pac-Man

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Undoubtedly one of the most famous video games of all time, Pac-Man isn’t just about a little yellow head-mouth chewing up pellets – he’s also there to consume the power pellets and make the enemy ghosts’ lives difficult by eating them up too!

Released in 1980 primarily in arcade machine cabinets, Pac-Man (which began life in Japan as Puckman) has had a remarkable 30 official spin-off titles and sequels, and many more unofficial versions.

Pac-Man might not offer the creativity of Pizza Tycoon; it might have predicted rave culture (at least in hindsight, thanks to the unattributed but oft-repeated joke “if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music”)… but at least Pac-Man teaches us all a lesson by offering a bonus for eating fruit.

Theme Park

Although the main thrust of 1994’s Theme Park was the building of a profitable fun park, one of the key aspects of this was – as anyone ever paying admission to an amusement park would attest – the making and selling of snacks.

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With a combination of fries, burgers, soda and ice cream, the food aspect of the game enabled the theme park owner to increase profit margins while cross-selling.

Basically, the more salt you put on your fries, the more your customers would need to drink, buying soda as a result. This clever tactic would keep many a theme park above water!

Theme Park was released on PC (MS-DOS) and Amiga, with later releases on SNES and Jaguar. Sim Theme Park and Theme Park Inc (Theme Park World and SimCoaster outside the USA) followed in 1999 and 2001.

Currently it is available free (with in-app purchases where available) on Nintendo DS, iOS and Android/Kindle Fire.

Cooking Dash

Released as a food-centric version of diner management game Diner Dash, Cooking Dash places you firmly in the kitchen, challenging you to cook meals as orders are taken to ensure that there is no hold up at the door for seating new customers.

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Available on iOS, Android/Kindle Fire, Windows and Mac OS X, big tips can be earned if you can keep your customers happy with burgers, sushi and much more.

Cooking Dash is a colourful game, lots of fun, and when the stakes are high it can prove to be pretty thrilling too!

Find out more at playfirst.com/game/cooking-dash.

Cooking Mama

The Cooking Mama series of games have been available for the Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii and iOS since 2007. Using a stylus or other input device, the player follows “Mama’s” instructions to chop, slice, flip and arrange the cooked food on a plate.

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With as many as 96 dishes that can be made, Cooking Mama is essentially a series of mini-games. Unlike the rest of the offerings in this list (other than Pac-Man) it is not a strategy or management game, rather a modern arcade title that appeals to young and casual players alike.

Despite who it’s aimed at, you’ll still feel hungry playing it!

There are now several Cooking Mama games; head to www.cookingmamaus.com to order a copy for Nintendo DS and Wii, or get the iPhone or iPad version from the App Store.

You can also play online at www.cookingmama.com.

Chocolatier

Few foodstuffs set pulses racing like chocolate, and in Chocolatier you have the opportunity to buy ingredients, manufacture chocolates and sell them to commercial outlets.

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With a Victorian era/steampunk presentation and various minigames included representing the chocolate design process, Chocolatier features a story and free play modes.

Released in 2007, the current version is called Chocolatier: Decadence by Design and is available for iOS, PC and Mac OS X. Find out more and try the game free for an hour at its dedicated Big Splash games page.

There is every chance that you have a favourite food videogame that isn’t listed here. You might have fond memories of some of the culinary titles of the classic era of gaming, or even have been inspired into a career in the kitchen after playing Pizza Tycoon. Share your memories below!

Image Credit: Kruusamägi
Image Credit: Gerardvschip

  1. Dave L
    December 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    A "Top X" list shouldn't include games nobody's heard of. Where's BurgerTime?

    • Christian C
      December 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm

      Says who?

      When did you last play BurgerTime? It has dated terribly; if we're making arbitrary statements about what should be in a top x list, then games that play like someone just invented gaming shouldn't be included either.

      But then, as it is my list, I get to choose :)

  2. Si Llyandsom
    December 3, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Incisive exposition with sense stimulating prose excites motivation to read more of this author. Thank you.

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