No ones blames you for not giving Fast Eddie much of a chance. After all, it looks like what you’d get if you asked a four year old to make a Donkey Kong game. Its combination of crude graphics, garish colors and grating sound effects assaults your senses from the moment you turn the game on until you turn it off after you suddenly realize you’ve been playing non-stop for three hours and you were supposed to pick your wife up at the airport.
In 1982 everyone was dipping their toes in the home video game waters, and 20th Century Fox was no exception. Hoping to rake in some of that sweet, sweet video game cash, they promised Sirius Software oodles and oodles of money to develop Atari 2600 games to publish under the 20th Century Fox banner. Sirius happily obliged and created about half of the Atari 2600 games released by Fox (and a few released by Spectravision). Then 1983 came along, the home video game market began to collapse and Fox bailed, paying Sirius exactly zero of the dollars they promised, leaving Sirius in serious (sorry, couldn’t help it) financial trouble.
Fast Eddie was one of the first games produced by Sirius for 20th Century Fox. It was developed for the Atari 2600 by Mark Turmell, who would later work on Smash TV, NBA Jam and basically every video game you played in the 90’s. It was then ported to the Atari 8-bit computers, the Commodore VIC-20 and the Commodore 64. Despite the more powerful hardware of the computers, no effort appears to have been put into improving the graphics. One of the screenshots on this page is the Atari 2600 version. The other is the Atari 8-bit version. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which. The Commodore versions are either slightly more colorful (64) or slightly less (VIC-20) but otherwise look just as blocky as the original 2600 game.
The upside of all this fanatically faithful adaptation is that the gameplay also remains unchanged. Fast Eddie is a fairly simple platform game that tasks players with collecting nine floating prizes while avoiding the Sneakers that patrol each level. Once the ninth prize is collected, a key appears that transports Eddie to the next screen. And if you think this is some “puzzle platformer” that wants to impress you with its oh-so-clever level design, think again. Fast Eddie is un-clever. Un-clever but intensely kinetic. The sneakers move constantly, leaving no place for Eddie to hide out, no time for the player to consider his next move. There’s no depth here at all, but you never stay still long enough to realize that.
If Lode Runner is a marathon, Fast Eddie is a 100-yard dash. There’s no pacing, no jockeying for position, no saving a little bit for that final kick at the end. You just go, as hard as you can, until you reach the finish line.