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Picnic Paranoia

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Released: 1982

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: Atari 8-bit

Publisher: Synapse Software

Developer: Russ Segal

Submitted by: Glenn Petrie

Imagine you and your family are having a nice, quiet afternoon. The weather is nice, so you decided to have a picnic at your local park. Everything goes smoothly for all of you; but just before you take that first bite, the picnic is hijacked by ants and other pests and you feel that you must do something before they make off with the food. Synapse's Picnic Paranoia shows you exactly what this is like, and what you can do to fight back.

There are four picnic tables with two pieces of food each. The picnic is going okay but five seconds later ants start to appear and attempt to carry the food away. As George, the dude with the fly swatter, your job is to exterminate these pests before the ants fulfill their goal and the food disappears for good. You have a limited amount of time to do this; and when the time is up, any food saved will count toward your bonus score at the end of the round. Any food lying on the grass will give you less points. The game ends when there is
no food left on the table.

George also has other pests to worry about. You also have to be on the lookout for any wasps that paralyze you with its sting; and from round two onwards, jumping spiders appear and build webs delaying your progress but they can be destroyed by swatting them. The further you progress, the more difficult the game becomes; with the ants having a speed increase, for example.

There is also a "night" option that allows you to play the game as if it takes place at night. Both the grass and the picnic tables are invisible, and people who first play this game are more likely to bump into tables they can't even see.

The title screen gives you a rundown of all the enemies, accompanying Synapse's excellent rendition of Flight of the Bumble Bee. Graphic-wise, everything looks neat with the food laid out nicely, and the various critters animated smoothly.

The only thing I don't like is that at night, ants appear with little colored backgrounds but this is supposed to make them stand out.

This is an addictive game which deserves to be played more than once, and there deserves to be a remake of a game.