Fast Food Tycoon

If you pick up Fast Food Tycoon (aka Pizza Syndicate) with hopes of a brilliantly polished restaurant-management game, you’ll be another victim of Activision’s Value Software division. They have a long history of churning out budget-priced games that look like crap and (occasionally) play half decently.In this case, however, even the name is misleading — the only “fast food” in the game’s pantry is pizza (and any gamer worth his salt will recall that Microprose’s infinitely superior Pizza Tycoon shipped five years ago).

4The game begins with you picking out the most primo real estate for your pizzeria, and building the interior layout via a handy, Sims-style interface. Ovens, tables, chairs, and carpeting are easily dragged-and-dropped into place. After exercising your aesthetic skills, you need to start micro-managing, and pick and choose your staff from a pool of minimum-wage schleps. Pulling a profit is impossible at first, so you’ll need to snag a hefty loan from a number of banks. And don’t forget to contact the ever-friendly mafia, who are in the “protection” biz (and can help you blackmail the competition).

The real fun of the game, however, comes in designing your pizza. Each of your business locales has a different preference in toppings, and tailoring your recipe to the local demographic is the only way to stay in the black. A board of taste-testers will be happy to help you fine-tune your product (for a price, however). Sound like weird fun? It might have been, but the game is near-fatally marred by a dysfunctional interface. Most screens are cluttered abominations of hideous cartoon art, and the icons are so abstract that it’s hard to figure out what any of them do.

System Requirements: Pentium II 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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