By now, it’s no secret by now that I love fast food, even though I only tend to eat it in moderation. And of course it’s obvious that I love video games — most of my career and the whole Nyteworks network of sites stand as a testament to that. So naturally, I love it when the two manage to come together.
Over the years, there have been several video games based on fast food franchises, perhaps the most famous of which being those starring Mick and Mack, aka the “M.C. Kids” of the Nintendo Entertainment System title of the same name and Global Gladiators for the SEGA Genesis, though one should never overlook McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure for the latter, possibly the best game of any of them. More infamous and more recent are the “King Games” trilogy of Sneak King, PocketBike Racer, and Big Bumpin’ for Xbox and Xbox 360, courtesy of Burger King.
And who could forget Yo, Noid!? (Actually, I somehow did, until my incredulous wife reminded me.)
However, among such titles, one iconic figure of the fast food industry has been almost entirely absent: Kentucky Fried Chicken founder Colonel Sanders (though he did have a cameo of sorts in Phantasy Star Portable 2 Infinity).
That absence has now more or less been remedied, thanks to a new ad campaign which has brought the Colonel (now portrayed by Saturday Night Live alum Darrell Hammond) back to the forefront. In addition to new commercials featuring the fowl frying founder, Business Insider reports that they are revamping the interior and exteriors of their restaurants — now appearing like more of a hybrid between the classic design and the newer “bistro” architecture — and adding some new items to the menu, including Kentucky baked beans with slow pulled chicken, Dole Classic Lemonade, and a mysterious new “Finger Lickin’ Good Sauce.”
Incidentally, I expect to see very little of this up here in Canada. We don’t even have Extra Crispy recipe or Kentucky Grilled Chicken, or even biscuits — how about a slice of white “Buttery” bread? Mashed potatoes are a relatively new addition to the menu, but I digress.
As business is up for the chain, the move seems to be part of a celebration of the company and its history, rather than any sort of desperation tactics like Burger King and McDonald’s have had to employ in recent. Part of this celebration is a look back at the Colonel’s life… in video game form! From Business Insider:
Colonel Harland Sanders had a colorful life. As KFC tells it in a press release, he was a farmhand, Army mule-tender, locomotive fireman, trainee lawyer, insurance salesman, amateur obstetrician, ferryboat entrepreneur, and political candidate. He was a 65-year-old chicken salesman when he created his secret blend of 11 herbs and spices.
Hence the free browser-based video game Colonel Quest! This five-stage game (oddly described as “8-bit Atari style.” Atari Lynx, maybe) takes you through just as many frankly bizarre parts of Colonel Sanders’ life, each with its own unique gameplay, some (if not all) of which call back to other classic games.
Naturally, I had to try this out for myself. Here’s the penny tour:
Level 1: Sixth Grade Dropout
This one is sort of an endless runner, minus the “endless” part. The young not-yet-a-colonel Sanders must run, jump, and slide his way past desks and objects thrown by teachers in order to escape the terror which is the sixth grade in order to support his family (I’m pretty sure there are laws against that these days). Fortunately for any concerned parents, KFC does its due diligence and reminds kids to stay in school due to its importance, and because “frying chicken isn’t easy.”
As with all games presented with the arcade-style facade, there are two buttons mapped to Z and M on your keyboard. This one took me a few tries to get a proper feel for it, but it handles pretty well.
Level 2: Baby Business
This is where the aforementioned “amateur obstetrician” (who was apparently unlicensed) comes into play. 55 bouncing babies come your way, and it’s up to “Doctor Colonel” to bounce them away to safety in this variation on Nintendo’s Fire Game & Watch title. Don’t worry if you miss, however, as a helpful oven mitt-wearing hand will stretch across the screen to save the day. 28 is the magic number to avoid being sued for malpractice!
Level 3: Courtroom Brawl!
At last, all my years of playing Urban Champion are about to pay off!
Ah, don’t I wish? Truth be told, I’m not sure what game (if any, though it seems familiar) this borrows from.
Harland Sanders, Ace Attorney — er, “trainee lawyer,” apparently not only got into a fight in court, but he did so with his own client! “Help the Colonel say ‘I object’ the old-fashioned way!” reads the prompt, as you must block shots from the client while delivering your own. Partway through the fight, the client crawls over to the judge to regain some health while his honor casts aside the book in favor of throwing gavels at you. Fortunately, you can knock them back his way and eventually continue showing your client a heaping helping of southern hospitality!
Level 4: Gas Station Shootout
Were things not crazy enough for you yet? Then how about when a local gas station operator doesn’t like Sanders moving in on his turf, leading to a gunfight?
You have to duck behind a barrel to reload your rifle between rounds of opening fire on the gas pump, barrel, and automobile the opposing entrepreneur tries to hide behind. Destroy all his stuff, and he’ll throw in the towel!
Sheesh, and to think this is supposed to be based on a “true story“! Sure, I imagine it’s embellished a bit — it is a video game, after all — but just the same, there’s supposed to be a “Colonel” of truth to it, right?
Level 5: Chicken Time!
The moment of truth has arrived! Colonel Sanders has perfected his patented procedure for pressure-cooking fried chicken and is ready to bring his secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices to the digital masses.
This final round is somewhat similar to Tapper/Root Beer Tapper, except you must first move from one station to the next to prepare chicken for the coming rush of customers, then from one counter to the next to “feed hungry people who have never tasted the world’s best video-game fried chicken.”
Complete this (and the game), and what is your reward?
Well, besides setting off on the virtual road to fame and fortune, you get a coupon for five dollars off your purchase of an eight-piece meal or larger. Not too shabby, though unfortunately you can’t save the coupon to move to a device with a printer, and it’s probably good in the U.S. only. Curses!
All in all, Colonel Quest is a fun little distraction, and you can’t beat the price, to say nothing of the reward for finishing it (assuming you can make use of it). In fact, it’s something I’d even love to play on something like my Nintendo 3DS if it were available there, though I admittedly wouldn’t pay a lot for it, if only due to the brevity of its content. Still, few websites last forever, and I’d hate to see this fun little piece of KFC and fast food history go whenever they’re done with it. Such is the tragedy of the digital future, I suppose.
You can play the game for yourself by clicking here, or even just scrolling on down (for as long as the embed lasts)!