Review: Food Chain
Author: Cajun Games
Shareware Fee: $14.95
Mac with 68040 processor or higher
Mac OS 7.1.2 or higher
In a the digital world of blood-and-guts gaming, it’s refreshing to find a light-hearted shareware application that explores the intriguing struggle of species survival in a very entertaining way. “Food Chain” is a $14.95 shareware game from Cajun Games that’s fun to play and humorous to watch.
Most adults spend 8-10 hours a day in what’s often called a “dog-eat-dog” world. Food Chain takes this idea a little further and offers players a Seaosaur-eats-Hovenboof-eats-Yug Yug-eats-Magmaraptor environment. The important catch to this game is that in order to continue play, one member of each species must remain on the board at all times and the grid can not become overpopulated.
The game grid (see below) is similar to a checkerboard, but each species has one unique attribute that makes game play reminiscent of a beginner’s game of chess. Bonus points are awarded for a complete “food chain.” This occurs when a member of each species has an opportunity to “dine” during a single round of play. Each round requires players to place a creature on the board or execute an action. If overpopulation occurs (all spaces on the grid are occupied and creatures aren’t positioned to “feast” on their food supply), the game abruptly ends. The goal of the game is to maintain ecological balance and species survival.
The game randomly generates the creature to be placed or action to be taken at the start of each round. Therefore there is no way for a player to determine when an endangered species (a species with only one representative on the grid) might be repopulated. In addition, each creature has a limited “natural life” which can only be extended by “lunching” on its food source. Because a creature must be positioned to face their “meal” before points can be scored, attention to each creature’s placement on the game grid is essential for successful game play.
If a creature dies a natural death it’s replaced on the grid by a field of grass. The grass, which can only be eaten by a Hovenboof, is permanently replaced by a palm tree if it isn’t consumed in a timely manner (see below). This reduces the spaces available for continued play.
For each complete “food chain” that’s scored, players receive one option to replace the creature or action selected by the game. Actions include turning the position of a creature on the grid or the placement of a small pond that will protect a Seaosaur, but is instant doom for any other creature placed in the water. Occasionally, the game will generate a “grim reaper” that instantly changes any creature selected into a field of grass. Whether it be a subtle social commentary or simple coincidence, the “Yug Yug” (an cartoonish-looking character that walks on two legs) is the only creature capable of cannibalizing itself.
The folks at Cajun Games offer prize contests for players who set their minds to achieving high scores. The game is easy to understand and the random selection of creatures or actions at the start of each round makes every game a new challenge.
Along with the fast-moving and amusing Food Chain game, the CD comes packed with demo versions of 25 other shareware favorites. Food Chain from Cajun Games is the perfect stocking stuffer for the fun-loving carnivore on your holiday shopping list!