BurgerTime is back…and that’s too bad.
Hot dogs and pickles and eggs, oh my
I know I’ve quickly become the resident “old coot” that doesn’t think anything new is better than the old originals, but in my defense, that’s usually the case. Everyone and their brother tries to reinvent or re-introduce old arcade franchises, and that rarely turns out good. Some games, like Pac-Man CE, end up being new classics and worthy heirs to the throne, but most games just need to stay in their original form, and BurgerTime is one of them.
The original BurgerTime easily makes it onto my Top 5 list of favorite arcade games. I admit that I was introduced to BurgerTime on the NES, but I went back from there to discover the arcade version and never looked back. BurgerTime took the the methodical game play of Pac-Man and applied it to the wonderful world of fast food. You play the part of Peter Pepper and your job is to make hamburgers, but in your way stands the meanest hot dogs, eggs and pickles you’ve ever met.
Even though BurgerTime has the looks of a platformer, I have trouble calling it that because there’s no jumping. The only thing you have to stave off the evil condiments of doom is your speed, your wits and a few shots of pepper, which will stun your enemies where they stand. To score points you need to run over the parts of your sandwich, at which point they will fall to the bottom of the board. If you manage to crush the bad guys you’ll get extra points, and if you can manage to give Mr. Hot Dog a ride on your falling tomato, you’ll get even more points. It takes patience and flick-of-the-wrist moves to run up your score, but that’s okay because you’re in no hurry…there’s no timer to worry about.
There’s plenty of challenge in the original BurgerTime that rivals any classic arcade game and it will test any gamer’s mettle. Unfortunately, the latest version of BurgerTime, released last week on XBLA and PSN, won’t test your mettle or even rock like heavy metal. BurgerTime World Tour exhibits just about everything that makes a less-than-mediocre game while simultaneously making loyal arcade fans weep.
Not the BurgerTime you remember…or want
BurgerTime World Tour takes the same premise as the original, man versus food, but in efforts to update the game, the developers manage to deliver little more than a crappy avatar platformer…and this time it really is a platformer. For some reason they decided that allowing your character to jump was a good idea. Now let me ask you this: Do you think Pac-Man would be just as a fun if you could jump over the ghosts? Of course not, that’s half the challenge and fun! Now in BurgerTime World Tour you don’t even have to worry about running around avoiding the evil eggs, you can just jump over them.
As if that wasn’t enough to ruin a good game, you’ll be facing a new enemy in this version of BurgerTime – the clock. Every level has a target time to beat, and just like that you’re in a race against the clock rather than worrying about how to lead and thwart your enemies in order to exploit them for the most points possible. One of the great things about the original BurgerTime was your ability to set the pace. You could spend 15 minutes on the first board if you needed…it was all about the points. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good timed mode game…they’re the best, if you ask me. But that just doesn’t work in a game that asks you to lead unpredictable AI to specific spots on the board. So am I trying to finish the level as fast as I can, or am I supposed to take my time and try to rank up the points?
Another aspect of BurgerTime World Tour that doesn’t help things are the updated graphics. As one would expect, they 3D-ized the game, which might have been a welcomed change if said visuals didn’t make playing the game even more uncertain and frustrating. One of the skills you learn in the original BurgerTime is leading a bad guy onto one of the ingredient platforms (like lettuce) and then making it fall, earning you big points. It’s tricky and requires near pixel-perfect timing and precision. This isn’t too bad when you’re looking at a 2D board but when you have (poorly rendered) 3D shapes and characters running around, it complicates your timing and is thus quite irritating. But if you’ve ever wanted to see yourself chase done a hot dog in a cowboy hat, you’re in luck because BurgerTime World Tour lets you play as your avatar character. Oh joy.
Quit ruining good games!
There’s one thing that could have saved BurgerTime World Tour and that would have been the original BurgerTime. I don’t know why they didn’t bundle in the original game as an unlock achievement because that would have (almost) made the game worth the $10 price tag. But as it stands, BurgerTime World Tour comes off as a half-assed re-imagining of an arcade classic. It reeks of one of those cheap avatar games you find in the indie section that does little more than con you out of your dollar.
More often than not, a light touch is all that is needed to update and reintroduce a classic game to a new generation of gamers. If I was asked to remake BurgerTime, I might have added some more levels and updated the 2D graphics a bit, but the core game would have remained unchanged. It worked for Pac-Man CE, there’s no reason it wouldn’t have worked for BurgerTime. ‘Tis a shame.