One of the last releases from a small company, Cakewalk is widely known as being one of the hardest to find releases for the Atari 2600. Not only was Cakewalk only sold in a very small number of stores (mostly in the Midwest), but it was only on the market for a short time before Commavid decided to call it quits. Because of this most collectors will go their whole lives without ever laying their hands on a copy of this game. This is a shame because the game is actually pretty good, which is a rarity among extremely rare games.
If you think Cakewalk looks kind of familiar, then you're not alone. Cakewalk looks and plays somewhat similarly to another 2600 game you may have heard about called Tapper. Although the games are different enough to be considered distant cousins at best, there are striking similarities between the two. In Cakewalk you play the role of a baker who must catch cakes as they come off the end of one of six conveyer belts. Cakes come down the belts at different intervals and speeds, which makes predicating where the next cake will be somewhat difficult. To help make up for this, the baker can stop any conveyer belt (one at a time) for four seconds by pressing the fire button. While a belt is frozen, the cake will not advance down the belt until it unfreezes. If too many cakes fall off the belt, then it's game over.
One of the odder features of the game is the coffee break. After catching a set number of cakes, the baker is given a break from the action (union rules). You will know when this happens when a large coffee cup appears on one of the conveyers. Although this may sound a bit like a bonus round, it really isn't. Instead this is the games way of giving you a bit of a break after a long level (as if you really needed one). The game will essentially be paused until you take the coffee, after which the action resumes.
Another interesting feature of the game are the gingerbread men. Gingerbread men come down the conveyer like cakes, but instead of traveling at a constant speed and pattern, they dance around erratically until caught. This can make for some interesting gameplay in an otherwise dull game. In fact, there are several variations which feature nothing but gingerbread men, which should have probably been the standard variation from the get go. Speaking off odd things, be on the look out for the knife and fork, as touching these will kill your baker (for some strange reason).
There are also several variations that have which is called a fast conveyer. In these variations the player can speed up a conveyer belt by pushing right on the joystick. This can add some interesting strategy to the game, but it can also make the game a little too easy. You will also notice a janitor at the bottom of the screen. His job is to clean up after any cakes you may have dropped during the course of the game. Unfortunately the game actually stops as the janitor slowly walks over to the fallen cake and cleans up the mess. This leads to far too long a break in the action and becomes very annoying after awhile.
While Cakewalk isn't necessarily the best game out there, it's not the worst either. Catching cakes can be fun for awhile, but eventually the monotony will set in. Some of the different gameplay variations add some life to the game, but there are simply too many other games out there that take the concept behind Cakewalk and do it better (the afore mentioned Tapper comes to mind). Sadly Cakewalk is mired in the realm of mediocrity that seemed to plague the Atari 2600 library.