Out to Lunch logo AGA

Have you ever, ever seen anyone eat a kebab in the daytime? No. People only eat them late at night because you have to be completely off your face to eat one. They also glow in the dark so you can find your way home.

Now, Pierre Le Chef may not enjoy eating sweaty lamb at 3am outside Birmingham nightclubs, but he does know a lot about cooking. In fact, he spends most of his time trotting around the globe in search of those certain ingredients which make his dishes extra special and enhance his reputation.

This time Pierre is off to Switzerland, Greece, the West Indies, Mexico and France to track down each country's gastronomic treats and, naturally enough, you have to be there to help him.

The ingredients are spread over 48 increasingly complex levels and your first task is to find Pierre's floor gun - which is needed for stunning the ingredients - and his net, which is used to trap them. You have to collect a certain number of ingredients on each level, then deposit them in a cage to open the level exit.

To hinder your progress, the vegetables can run away or stun you, there's a time limit, and you can be attacked by bacteria or have your captured ingredients set free by the evil Le Chef Noir.

There's a little tactical planning involved here. Depending on the location of the cage, you can either collect all your ingredients in one feel swoop - but risk losing them if you get stunned - or you can keep making return trips to the cage to deposit each ingredient.

Pierre can also collect fruit bonuses at the end of every world and there are a variety of different weapons - including tobasco sauce - which he can use on the ingredients and nasties on each level.

This game is great. You can't help liking the cutely animated Pierre as he leaps around from platform to platform and it really is tremendous fun chasing the ingredients around each level, depositing them in a cage, then setting off for more.

Out To Lunch is also very tricky. Even early on you can get hopelessly stuck - Switzerland, for example, is filled with narrow, icy platforms which can make getting from one end of a level to the other incredibly frustrating. You also never know where the exit is until you've deposited the last ingredient into the cage, so you have to be quick on your feet.

You also lose a life - Pierre comes with three - every time you fail to complete a level on time or get struck down by a nasty bout of salmonella. There are no continues and you only get a password once you've completed a world, so you have to complete 12 levels in one go, with failure sending your right back to the beginning again.

Despite this, Out To Lunch remains extremely enjoyable. The joystick control is intuitive and you can usually scale the death-defying leaps on each level without too much difficulty.

Graphically the game's a treat, with gorgeous parallaxing and slickly animated sprites. Looks like Pierre Le Chef could be with us for some time to come.



Out to Lunch logo AGA A1200 Speziell

Um ein besonderes Schmankerl will Mindscape hier den Speiseplan der Plattform-Gourmets mit AGA-Küche bereichern: Flüchtendes Gemüse und widerspenstiges Obst lassen den Alptraum aller Meisterköche wahr werden.

Unser Meister der Töpfe heißt Pierre le Chef und steckt mitten in einer kulinarischen Welttournee, die ihn durch Griechenland, die Schweiz, West Indies, Mexiko, China und schließlich ins heimatliche "Fronkreisch" führt.

Jede dieser Stationen ist in acht Levels unterteilt und verlangt vom Magier der Kochplatte selbstredend die Verwendung frischester Zutaten - so frisch, daß Eier, Kartoffeln oder Ananas noch munter umherlaufen und erst einmal mit dem zuvor hoffentlich gefundenen Netz eingefangen werden müssen!

Direkte Tuchfühlung mit seinen Zutaten muß Pierre dagegen vermeiden, da er sonst vorübergehend das Bewußtsein verliert (ein Koch mit Lebensmittelallergie?) und den Speisen so Gelegenheit zur Flucht gibt. Es bietet sich also an, das widerspenstige Futter vor dem Fang zu paralysieren, etwa durch einen genretypischen Kopfsprung oder Sammelextras wie Wurfgeschosse und feurigen Tabasco-Atem.

Abgelegt werden die Beilagen schließlich durch Darüberlaufen in einem Käfig; sind genug beisammen, öffnet sich das Tor zum nächsten Level.

Damit das nicht zu früh geschieht, hat der Chefkoch mit Schwebeplattformen und Sprungfederrn zu kämpfen, außerdem sollte er nach versteckten Bonusräumen Ausschau halten.

Insgesamt zeichnet sich diese Umsetzung eines ursprüngliches Nintendo-Gerichts durc sehr ordentliche Spielbarkeit aus: Auf ihrer Pirsch macht den bis zu zwei Gemüsejägern (nacheinander) nur das Zeitlimit zu schaffen, denn der abwechslungsreiche Levelaufbau bietet zwar immer neue Herausforderungen, jedoch praktisch keine unfaire Stellen.

So wartet etwa die Schweiz mit rutschigen Minigletschern für geschickte Kochl:of... äh, Stick-Artisten auf, während andere Abschnitte derart mit angriffslustigen Wespen oder mutierten Tomaten volgestopft sind, daß sie sich fast so actionreich wie "Turrican 3" spielen.

Sämtliche Sprites sind knuddelig gezeichnet und animiert, auch das Parallax-Scrolling der kunterbunten Landschaften klappt hervorragend - endlich mal ein Spiel, das die Fähigkeiten des 1200ers wenigstens ansatzweise nützt!

Ein Sonderlob hat sich noch die jeweils zum Szenario passende Begleitmusik verdient. Prima auch, daß das Optionsmenü zwischen Joystick und Pad unterscheidet, selbst wenn die Steuerung bereits mit einem Button prima von der Hand geht.

Festplatten und Zweitläufer werden vom Küchenchef zwar nicht bedient, doch die minimalen Ladepausen fallen kaum ins Gewicht. Und wer den Plattform-Service ganz ohne Wartezeiten genießen will, muß halt auf die angekündigte CD-Version warten, wogegen der A500 nicht auf dem Speiseplan steht. Ein bißchen schade, aber Out to Lunch ist ja nicht das erste gute Hüpfical für den Amiga - und bestimmt nicht das letzte... (rl)



Out to Lunch logo AGA

Bless his little wooden spoons.

I love Mindscape's cute platform game characters. Take Alfred Chicken, for example. Only don't, because I want to take him - take him home, that is, and look after him, and ensure no harm comes to him. With his big, frightened eyes and fine red comb, he's welcome to come round to tea anytime.

And so's Pierre le Chef. (Except we wouldn't have chicken to eat, obviously.) After Alfred Chicken, he's my favourite game character in all the world, I've decided. He's really tiny with a huge hat and, although you can't see his face very clearly, he's got the cheekiest little smirk.

Out To Lunch gets loads of marks simply for having him in it, and I hope very much that it's the start of a long-running series of Pierre game. (Then I could say that I was into him before he got famous.) (Except I'll still like him when he's famous.) (Obviously.)

But Pierre isn't all that Out to Lunch has got going for it. In common with a surprising number of this month's games, I played Out to Lunch on the SNES last year sometime, and thought it was great - really slick and neatly put together. And none of that has been lost in the journey to the Amiga.

The sprites are all a bit on the small side, but they're exceedingly finely detailed and animated. And for pieces of fruit 'n' veg, they've got incredibly expressive faces.
Er, you see, the baddies in Out to Lunch are all ingredients for recipes Pierre is trying to put together - carrots, onions, potatoes, leeks, mushrooms, that sort of thing.

They've escaped and gone on the rampage in countries all around the world, and Pierre's got to pursue them around the platform-filled levels, stun them (either by jumping on their heads or throwing bags of flour at them), ensnare them in his net and then lock them in a cage.

ESCARGOT
Complications include rogue ingredients who chase you about and try to kill you. Rotten potatoes, for example, swallow you whole, while evil tomatoes squirt ketchup at you. Worst of all is the Chef Noir, who'll appear from time to time and undo all your hard work by opening the cage and releasing all the vegetables in it. And the levels themselves include things like trampolines and teleporters to spice up the proceedings.

The levels are, as I said, spread all around the world, which means that not only does the scenery change, but the ingredients you're pursuing do too. In Switzerland, there's cheese with holes in. In Mexico there are chilli-peppers. In the West Indies there are pineapples. See?

The music changes, too, ranging from accordion-sounding tunes in Paris to a fabulous steel-drum-based track in the West Indies. And before each level you're shown the flag of the country you're about to travel to, along with its name in huge letters. 'SWITZERLAND' for Switzerland, for example, or 'CHINA' for China. There's no mistaking them.


A rogue avocado temporarily reversed my controls

D 'AVIGNON
Because Out to Lunch looks so lovely, and revolves around such an entertaining concept, it's possible to forgive it a lot. I didn't bat an eyelid when a rogue avocado temporarily reversed my controls, for instance. The fact that you can move straight through some walls and platforms, while other, identical ones block your progress was an irritation, but only a minor one.

The password-entry screen which keeps missing your keypresses made me grit my teeth sightly, but no more. Pierre's tendency to keep falling, rather than jumping, off the edges of platforms barely registered an 'Nnngh'.

The incredible rapidity with which I tended to suddenly lose all my lives without seemingly having done anything wrong can probably be put down to my gamesplaying inadequacy. Even the slippy-slidey ice worlds, occurring as they do at the upper reaches Swiss levels to represent snow on top of the mountains, seem perfectly legitimate when viewed in context.

But other aspects of the game are less welcome, and together conspire to make you wonder whether vegetable-catching was such a great idea for a game after all.

PEUGEOT
It all just seems a bit, well, routine. Before you can start to round up the ingredients, you've got to go and find the net. This is usually lying around nearby somewhere, but you wonder why you couldn't just be holding it in the first place. Then you really need to find the flour-bags. And then, even when you've caught a load of things, you've still got to take them back to the cage. And then, all it needs is for the Chef Noir to appear and randomly let a load of them out again and you're back where you started, feeling a bit bored and frustrated.

Imagine playing Bubble Bobble, except you've got to find a bubble-thrower at the start of each level, and then carry all the baddies you catch to some sort of cute prison, and there's the imminent possibility that they might all suddenly escape causing you to have to start the level all over again. That's just what Out to Lunch is like.

Even so, though. Despite being flawed, Out to Lunch is still reasonably enjoyable. It's played against the clock, giving it a sense of urgency, and even though the layout of the levels is a bit samey, the contrast between different countries is enough of an incentive to keep you playing the game through to the end. (Passwords are sensibly provided between countries, rather than levels, easing you on your way while keeping the challenge alive.)

Yes, I like this. But it's not the most inspired piece of game design I've ever encountered. I wonder whether, without the Gallic presence of Pierre and his edible friends, Out to Lunch mightn't be in danger of having its toes lapped by waves on the shores of the Sea of Mediocrity.


IN A NUTSHELL

Out to Lunch
First, track down the net and the bag of flour.

Out to Lunch
Then head off in pursuit of those rscally foodstuffs.

Out to Lunch
Deposit any you capture in this cage. There - ha.

Out to Lunch
Eventually this portal to the next level will open.


INTERNATIONAL FLAVOUR
If you can't stand the heat, they say, get out of the kitchen. Which is just what Pierre le Chef has done. Although he's gone rather further than that, flying to six far-off countries in his attempts to round up ingredients. We wish him luck in his adventures.

SWITZERLAND
Out to Lunch
Pierre begins his journey in the land of cuckoo clocks and cheese with holes in. Though hardly renowned for its contribution to world cuisine, Switzerland does at least provide an excuse for a slippy-slidey ice world. Although, Tibet might have been nice. You could have collected yeti steaks.

GREECE
Out to Lunch
Again, famous Greek dishes are tricky to recall. Kebabs, maybe, or moussaka. Or that squidgy stuff you dip celery in. Pierre seems to be having a nice time, though.

THE WEST INDIES
Out to Lunch
Hmm. Mainly just tropical fruit here, and coconuts - nothing you actually cook. Meanwhile, the sun beats down. You have to wonder whether Pierre isn't just in this for a free holday.

MEXICO
Out to Lunch
Ah - here we are, though. Mexico is responsible for some of the finest food in the world, including chilli con carne and tortilla chip. It still has a suspiciously nice climate, however, and Pierre smirks get broader as the sun gets higher in the sky.

CHINA
Out to Lunch
But then, China wouldn'be on my holiday shortlist. And the land of student massacres and forced labour camps is overrated as far as food is concerned, too. Here Pierre must find lots of identical-tasting slimy vegetables, all drenched in soy sauce.

PARIS
Out to Lunch
And finally it's the self-proclaimed culinary capital of the world. Pierre must clamber up the Eiffel Tower (it's a building site world by any other name) in pursuit of runaway onions. And then that's the end of the game. Or is it? Yes, it is.



Out to Lunch logo AGA

MINDSCAPE OUT NOW £25.99

For some reason, software houses always bring large foam costumes of game characters to the ECTS. Every year we are faced with Robocod, Zool and a whole host of others. At this year's Spring ECTS there was a new guy in town - a seven foot chef with a large jaw and a fixed grin. This particular maniac, with a penchant for bowing and opening doors for people was introduced as Pierre Le Chef - Mindscape's new personality.

In Pierre's world, food does not like to be cooked, and who can really blame it. Rather than sit in the pantry or refrigerator like your normal fruit and vegetables, these ones are wild, and have to be caught before they can be cooked. Enter Pierre Le Chef - a cross between Egon Ronay and John Rambo.

In his seemingly endless quest, Pierre has to travel through six countries of the world, collecting food for his local recipes while avoiding the bacteria and plagues that chase him around each level.

At the start of each level you are told how many items of food you need to collect with your large net, and then away you go, bouncing around the huge scrolling landscape, leaping from platform to platform, swiping potatoes and tomatoes, and avoiding the clutches of the evil Chef Noir. Once you have all your vegetables, drop them in the cage to trap them, and then leap through the exit to the next level.

Out To Lunch is a simple game, yet it is addictive enough to keep you playing. The variety of landscapes gives you enough challenge on each level to warrant continuing on, and the plethora of enemies, from leaping potatoes to the terrible Black Chef are enough to keep you on your toes.

This is a very cute game and your heart really goes out for the mushrooms who hop away from Pierre soon as they see him. Out To Lunch is very console-like, which isn't surprising as that is where it came from in the first place. A competent, if unexceptional game with plenty of fun and frolics.



Out to Lunch CD32 logo CD32

French stereotypes a-plenty as top chef, Pierre goes on the trail of his missing ingredients. He's one vegetable short of a casserole, so to speak, and you have to guide Pierre around the six different countries and recover his escaped edibles.

Making life difficult is Le Chef Noir, Pierre's arch-rival, and he will do everything he can to release all the food you have managed to capture.

And what else must every good chef watch out for? Why, bacteria, of course! Bacteria and insects will try and infect the food, so you must stop them before they reach and rot your farm fresh consumables.

To help you there are collectibles that will prove more than valuable. The most essential of these is the net that you use to capture the food in to carry them to the cage.
A minimum number of ingredients must be collected to reach the next level in a given time limit. This time limit really does add some excitement (and frustration) to what is simply a very ordinary, though very competent platformer.

The bonus level provides some variety which takes the form of Pierre wandering around a supermarket collecting fruit, but it isn't all that spectacular or imaginative by any means.

Graphically, it doesn't differ much from the A1200 version but sound-wise it really has been well enhanced. Springs boing and the baddies whinge to create some humorous sound effects.

Out to Lunch is quite a fun title for a while, especially for a Monday morning/Friday afternoon because it doesn't require any thought or real effort.
The difficulty lies in having to jump across slidy platforms and collect the food in time, but it's hardly demanding or particularly original. It's nicely done but at the end of the day it's only a variation on an overused idea.

The password system would have been useful if it was given after every level, but unfortunately you only receive one after an entire world which becomes very irritating, and the levels have to be repeated a great deal.

If you're desperate for another platformer to add to your collection then by all means buy it - it's not that it is a bad game, just not a very original one!

45%


Out to Lunch CD32 logo CD32

I am going out on a limb here but I reckon there is a fair chance that Pierre Le Chef (who happens to be Out To Lunch, Mindscape, 0444 246333, £25.99) is meant to be French. Sigh, you cannot beat a bit of cultural stereotyping to set the scene for a game. Jumping across platforms and collecting things over 48 levels is the order of the day (on the menu, blah, blah, poor cookery jokes, etc) and more than competent fare it is too. Pierre chases ingredients across six countries while avoiding the attention of arch-rival Le Chef Noir (the Cook in Black, or the Cook Of The Night, or something like that).

Graphically, it is a full fried breakfast; the parallax scrolling is a fondant fancy (stop making a meal of this review - Ed) yet in parts, Out To Lunch is tougher than undercooked sprouts - lose a couple of lives here and there and you find yourself back at the start. But overall, it is pretty, and it is fun. And that is what counts.



Out to Lunch CD32 logo CD32

Mindscapes Plattform-Koch hat gar nur ein paar Wochen gebraucht, um vom 1200er in die CD-Pfanne zu hüpfen - entsprechend dürftig sind auch hier die Zutaten ausgefallen, welche die Scheibe von der Disk unterscheiden.

Und wieder befindet sich Pierre le Chef auf einer Gourmet-Welttournee, die ihn nach Griechenland, in die Schweiz, auf die West Indies, nach Mexiko, China und Frankreich führt.

All-überall sind zunächst Käscher, Wurfgeschosse oder Tabasco-Flammenwerfer aufzuklauben, um damit (ersatzweise tüt's auch ein Kopfsprung) quicklebendige Eier, Kartoffeln und andere Kochtopf-Deserteure zu betäuben, sie anschließend einzufangen und eine einem Käfig zu deponieren.

Ist eine vorbestimmte Anzahl beisammen, öffnet sich das Tor zum nächsten der 48 Levels.

Für gepflegte Hektik sorgt dabei ein Zeitlimit ebenso wie im Spielverlauf immer häufiger umherstreuendes Bös-Gemüse, das auf keinen Fall berührt werden sollte - sonst kommt das Sammelgut frei, und die getane Arbeit war für die Katz.

Dank des fairen und launigen Gameplays machte die Zutatenhatz auf Disk viel Spaß, und das gilt wegen der gut an das Joypad angepaßten Steuerung auch am CD32.

Doch während die bunten Backgrounds und das sanfte Parallax-Scrolling die Möglichkeiten eines A1200 recht gut repräsentierten, liegt die CD-Power her völlig brach: Es gibt weder ein Movie-Intro noch 16-Bit-Musik (die Soundbegleitung ist aber trotzdem nicht übel) oder sonstige Neuerungen zu vermelden.

Und damit ist Out to Lunch auf CD halt wenig mehr als ein Hüpfical unter vielen. Allerdings eines, das seine(n) Spieler mit einem abwechslungsreichen Levelaufbau, Bonusstages und nicht zuletzt einem Duo-Modus (hintereinander) zu motivieren weiß. (rl)



Out to Lunch CD32 logo CD32

Mindscape/£26
Amiga version: 76%, AP39

Travel the world in the guise of a chubby French chef and capture rebellious vegetables by stunning them with flour bags, collecting them in a net and then depositing them in a cage. That's the plot.

JD gave this cute platformer 76% only a couple of months ago, and used some rather uncharacteristic phrases in his review.
"I didn't bat an eyelid when a rogue avocado reversed my controls."
"The fact that you can move straight through some walls and platforms, while other, identical ones block your progress was an irritation, but a minor one."
"Even the slippy-slidey ice worlds... seem perfectly legitimate in context."

Control reversal?
Indeterminate scenery?
SLIPPY-SLIDEY ICE WORLDS ON LEVEL ONE? 76%? Good job he's taken a holiday, that's all I can say. Let's hope he's back to his sensible self when he returns.

Okay, so Pierre (the chef) is cute. And the running around collecting vegetables against the clock is alright. And the platforms are fairly well thought out. And the moving around to different countries every few levels does add a bit of variety.

And the CD32 controller has been fairly well programmed with one button to jump, another to lob flour and a third for the vegetable-netting. But, this is still just another cutesy platformer with all the irritations of the genre barring "up-to-jump".

It even blacks out the screen and displays a huge white "LOADING" sign between levels. Grrr.



Out to Lunch CD32 logo CD32

MINDSCAPE £29.99 OUT NOW

It is a hard life being a world class chef. 'French' hero Pierre Le Chef probably has the hardest time of all, coming from a land where more often than not the vegetables have fled their patches and run amok, leaving poor Pierre with nothing more than his bare hands and an empty kitchen with which to prepare his world famous Garlic Surprise (the surprise is, it is only garlic!).

So what does he do? He heads out into the wild with a net and a bag of flour, and sets about collecting some of these wild fruit and veggie edibles.

In this port from the Super Nintendo, Mindscape have created an extremely simple and addictive platform game, in the same way that Bombjack was simple and addictive. You are the small chef with the net who has to swipe all the food running up and down between the levels.

Of course the food does not actually want to be caught and cooked, and will make a run for the moment they see Pierre, so he needs to use anything else he can get his hands on to stun them from a distance, such as a bottle of Tabasco sauce with which he can breathe fire, or bags of flour which he can throw over them. Once he has enough veg in his net, he can drop them in the large cage at the bottom of the screen, ready to be cooked.

Out To Lunch is an incredibly basic platform game, with very little in the way of new or innovative features, but that is probably why the game works so well. There are a few enhancements from the A1200 version, with the exception of multiple fire button compatibility, but then the A1200 version, was strong enough in its own right. A highly playable, if somewhat unspectacular game, you will definitely have some fun with though.