Retro-remakes are all the rage right now, and the latest arcade game to receive a makeover is BurgerTime, this time returning with the subtitle World Tour. Is this game as deliciously fun and playable as the old classic? Lettuce find out.
Back in the era of the video game arcade, Burgertime by Data East was one of my favourite games. I’m not sure exactly how many coins I pumped into the machine, but I’m sure it was a small fortune. I’ve always preferred platform games over beat-em-ups and fighting games, so I never spent much time on the Street Fighter type arcade machines. BurgerTime is an old sub-genre of the platform game, a sub-genre called “Ladders and Levels”, whereby ladders are the main means of getting between platforms, as opposed to simple jumping (Wikipedia, on the other hand, seems to prefer to call games such as BurgerTime ”platform puzzle games”–but that’s an argument for another time). I’m sure many of the older gamers will remember such mainstays as Lode Runner, and even the classic Donkey Kong, as examples of this sub-genre. As a personal favourite, I recall spending many many hours playing the BBC clone of the game: Mr Wimpy by Ocean Software.
One note before I get into the…meat…of this review: the screenshots you see here are all from the various platforms. The first two are from the Xbox Live version, the third screen is from the PSN version, the fourth from the WiiWare version, and the last from the PC version. Just so you know.
BurgerTime World Tour is not just a simple “HD Remake” of the original BurgerTime: it’s more like a thorough overhaul of the game. The core concept is the same, of course: you send your protagonist—Peter Pepper—around a series of platforms, running over burger components (i.e., the bun halves, cheese, the burger patty, etc) and dropping them to the platform below—one platform at a time—until the giant burger is assembled on a plate below. Hindering you in your efforts to churn out burgers are an assortment of evil foodstuffs: sausages, eggs, pickles, habaneros, and so on. These enemies chase you around the levels relentlessly. Run into one, and you’re burger mulch.You’re not completely defenceless, of course. By default, you have several uses of pepper that leave your opponents incapacitated for a short while, allowing you to run past them. Furthermore, if an enemy is standing on a piece of burger when it drops, the enemy drops with it. You can also squish enemies by dropping burger components on them.
World Tour introduces a whole stack of new gameplay elements and layouts. As you can see from the screenshots, the graphics are, of course, greatly updated, very colorful, and brilliantly charming. I played the Xbox Live version of the game, which allows you to use your own avatar as a player, instead of relying on the standard player graphic. Graphics aside, the first thing you’ll notice about the levels is that they are now arranged around an imaginary vertical tube, and scroll left and right as needed. The gameplay also includes many modern platforming standards such as floating and flying platforms, breakable platforms, and variations on those themes. You’ll also see spiked platforms that are guaranteed to make your life difficult and leave you in a pickle.
The other large change is that every one of the four worlds contains a boss level at the end that must be completed before you can move on to the next world. These boss levels will take a little more extra dexterity from you than the standard levels, and can be far more frustrating. Still, with a little practise, you’ll manage.
Whereas the original BurgerTime only allowed Peter to move up, down, left, and right, and to throw pepper in his enemies’ faces, World Tour also allows you to jump (“travesty!” I hear you purists cry. Hush…it’s not a remake, it’s a new game altogether!), whack your enemies with a spatula, use a rocket to boost to high-up platforms, and pick up and throw peppered foes. Naturally, these improvements to Peter also means a rebalancing of the enemies, so while the sausages (Frank Furter) can chase you up and down ladders, the eggs (Sonny) rush at you if they see you, the pickles (Ruthless Dill) jump when you jump, and the carrots (Chaz) are able to crash through platforms above you. Naturally, this means learning the strategies of the new enemies, but once you’ve figured out who does what, it’s a matter of customizing the way you play to the way the enemies work.
Another big change to the game is the addition of local and online multiplayer (I suspect the Wii version is local multiplayer only). It works in much the same way as the standard game, but you’re in a race against other to compile burgers. The fun thing about multiplayer is that the other players are just as prone to the same attacks as the regular foes. The aspect that makes a competitive multiplayer game is purely the ability to screw over your opponents, and this game allows you to happily leave egg on your opponents’ faces. On the other hand, you’re just as prone to the attacks, so watch out for that.
What I liked about BurgerTime World Tour is that, by and large, the core game hasn’t been completely changed beyond recognition. Like the original arcade game, most of the trouble I had completing levels were mainly due to my own ineptitude or impatience. I say most, because occasional bouts of trouble I had was due to the crash detection, whether between Peter and the foes, or the foes and the pepper. I suspect that some of the issue might have been due to the tubular nature of the level design. Still, it’s an occasional issue I ran into, not a constant problem. One odd issue I ran into was that Peter somehow managed to jump through a hole in a wall, and ended up in an unused part of the level from which I couldn’t escape, which meant having to restart the level from scratch again.
BurgerTime World Tour has its share of flaws, sadly. In the single player campaign, the levels can be large enough to get lost in. Because it’s all circular and not flat, it can sometimes be a bit baffling to figure out how to get from one section to another. The developers have realized that players are likely to get lost, and have included a pointer to remaining burger ingredients. Despite the pointer, it’s still easy to get lost. The other reason you might find yourself getting lost is that, despite how colorful and pretty the game is, the background can sometimes be a little too busy, and either Peter or his foes can get lost among the details. Another problem is that, despite the different behaviors of the enemies, the gameplay itself starts getting very samey by about the third world, and there are no real surprises in the later game. In the multiplayer, the game screen can feel a bit claustrophobic, but that’s the nature of local multiplayer. The problem I had with online multiplayer was that no one was playing, so I was unable to find opponents.
By and large, BurgerTime World Tour doesn’t aim to be a faithful remake of the original arcade game, and I can appreciate that. Still, the name will probably only mean anything to those older gamers who remember the original BurgerTime. Like many games inspired by arcade originals, this game is best played as something to relax with after a long, hectic session of gaming. I don’t consider World Tour as something you can play for long hours on end—it simply isn’t that kind of game. At the end, I’m left in two minds about the game. It’s good fun in small doses, and great fun as a competitive game, but it helps to be aware of the flaws in the game.
Final score: 6.5 McBurgering prawns out of 10
Developers: Monkey Paw Games/Frozen Codebase
Platforms: XBLA (reviewed), PSN, WiiWare, PC
RRP: 800 MS points (XBLA),R75/$10 (PSN), 1000 Wii Points (Wii), TBA (PC)