We’re the Ants Who Steal Your Dinner

It’s time to look back at another game I remember from my youth, in this case Picnic Paranoia from 1982. I had it for the Texas Instruments 99/4A; and it was apparently available for the Atari 400 and 800, but not the 2600. It was published by Synapse Software and distributed by Atari. You played a guy named George whose picnic was constantly being invaded by bugs. Ants would try to drag the food away, wasps would try to paralyze him, and spiders would block his way with webs. George was armed with a flyswatter that he could use to kill the pests, but they would just keep coming. Each round lasts ninety seconds, after which you’d gain points for the food remaining on the tables, but lose them for food that’s been dragged onto the grass.

If there’s no food left on the tables, the game ends. You can put food back on the tables by dragging it with your flyswatter, although I don’t suspect it would be much good to eat after that. If you manage to get 50,000 points (I certainly never could), you have access to a can of bug spray that kills all the bugs on the screen. I don’t know why George can’t just relocate to a different picnic spot, but I guess that’s what happens when the food is bigger than you. What does he need all of that food for, anyway? Have the other picnic guests just not arrived yet? Maybe they were smart enough not to show up at the picnic in Enormous Insect Park. Also, does George ever hang out with Peter Pepper from BurgerTime? One another thing worth mentioning about this game is the frenetic 8-bit rendition of “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the title screen.

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