Review by Retro
"Hold the onions!"
During an unforgettable vacation at the beach that was full of women in skimpy bikinis, a stressful sizzling sunburn, and daily trips to various arcades, I saw a dusty arcade game that had hot dogs, eggs, pickles, and what looked to be a chef running all over the machine's screen. After a few plays of this hilarious, yet engaging title, I found myself wondering if there was a such thing as a Burger Time game for the NES.
Month after month flew by while I was saving up my weekly allowance of three dollars in order to buy my most wanted video game. After all the times my parents threatened my wrongdoings with the statement: ''Ok, if you don't straighten up, you're not getting Burger Time'', I finally had enough dollars saved up in my wooden piggy bank to make the purchase.
The star of Burger Time is Chef Peter Pepper (perhaps it's a knockoff of that famous riddle: ''Peter Piper picked a pickled pepper''). He has a strange little problem on hand. For some reason, Chef Pepper is being chased around the screen by several hot-headed hot dogs, fried eggs, and pickles with a bitter attitude. I guess these particular foods got tired of being cooked, tossed onto buns, and staring at people's insides after they are eaten. Therefore, they're on a rampage to defeat one of us (a human being), and a chef at that!
As if hastily climbing up and down several rungs of ladders and constantly staying on the run in order to stay away from these lively foods isn't enough, Peter Pepper (he's certainly no Peter Pan!) must also do his job. He won't be combining loads of ingredients to create a masterpiece or even stick his hands up a dead chicken's ass to stuff it. Instead, he carries out his duties more like a fast food worker would than a chef.
Burger Time's gameplay consists solely of making hamburgers and cheeseburgers while keeping the greasy hands of your enemies off of you. All the toppings are already cooked (I guess) and ready to be stacked one on top of the other until all the not-so-tasty looking items are between two hamburger buns.
All that Peter Pepper has to do is walk completely across all the huge parts of the burgers in order to make them fall down a level. He looks to be quite out of shape, but he seems to have the art of climbing and descending towering ladders down to an art. You'll have to make him run up and down tons of ladders in order to reach the numerous burger items. Each sandwich topping is lying flat on a horizontal beam (there are several of these beams in each level, some higher than others).
As you walk across an item, the part you have straddled across sinks down somewhat. The second you complete your journey across a bun, a piece of cheese, lettuce, etc., that item will plummet straight down a few feet until it falls onto a lower beam. Not only is gravity a law that holds ground, chain reactions also play a major part. Let's say a slice of cheese is lying right under a piece of lettuce. The second you walk all the way across the lettuce, it will fall down onto the slice of cheese. The cheese will, in turn, also fall down a level when the lettuce bumps into it. If there's any item right below the cheese, that item will drop down a level, and so on. The food's downward trek will end once it falls into its respective container.
Making burgers is among the simplest of jobs, unless living foods are chasing you around as if they want to have you for lunch! At all times, the always-smiling hot dogs, one-eyed eggs, and constricting pickles will be chasing Mr. Pepper around the six different levels without even thinking about taking a nap.
Fortunately for the chef's life, he did bring a few of his useful skills along with him from the kitchen. When a running food is in his way, Peter Pepper can throw some grains of salt or pepper into the enemy's face, which will force the animated monster to stand in place and shake the blinding grains off of himself for several seconds. Unfortunately, salt and pepper are not available in infinite amounts. The troubled chef must collect friendly food items such as a cup of tea, an order of fries, or an ice cream cone in order to take some more salt or pepper as hostage.
But that's not all that Chef Pepper can do! It would seem like he would just stick a sharp fork into the hot dogs, jump kick the eggs' yolky eyes out, and put the pickles into a jar, but it's not that simple. You see, these three different tasty, yet dangerous species of edibles are just as big, if not bigger than the chef himself! Therefore, he will have to use his brain instead of his stomach.
Aside from salty salt and spicy pepper, Chef Pepper has two other 'weapons' that he can use. He can walk across an enormous burger topping and make it fall on top of an enemy (squish!) to annihilate the evil being into crumbs that only a mouse could detect. Even better, he can make a part of a burger fall while an enemy is walking across the deadbeat food. In this case, the food article will drop like usual, except that it will descend down many more levels than usual since it has an oversized, living food riding on its back.
Each of Burger Time's six stages consists of a few burgers (usually about five) that are waiting to be made. A few of the sandwiches just consist of three different items (counting the buns), while many in the latter levels have more than ten layers to them. Surprisingly, these burgers don't ever have any famous toppings such as onions, mustard, tomatoes, or ketchup. For that reason, I wouldn't touch those burgers with a ten foot pole myself.
Once every burger is completely made and ready to serve, the level will be completed. As you progress through the levels, the enemies become a bit more numerous and a little faster. Burger Time isn't a game that I would call frustratingly hard, but it's certainly not a breeze either. It is pretty easy to run out of salt and pepper and then to get surrounded by the running foods with nowhere to go, however. Also, while the first level's burgers are close together and only consist of a few toppings, in later levels, you will encounter burgers that are made up of over ten toppings or that are more spread out around the screen (distance wise), which also adds to the challenge.
The graphics in Burger Time aren't too bad. If you've ever seen the arcade game, then you'll know exactly what to expect, because this NES version is a perfect translation of the arcade hit in almost every way. The cartoonish characters and graphics are colorful and don't distract you too much while you're playing the game, and the animations are hilarious. I still can't keep myself from laughing when I spray a hot dog with pepper and I watch it try to shake the blinding grains off of himself (it looks like a weird sort of dance). The levels themselves are dark and basic, but they're not ugly by any means.
Like the graphics, the sound effects and music in this NES version stay true to the the original. Both the effects and musical tracks are very basic and they sound like something you'd expect to hear from an early 80's arcade game. Whether it's the realistic sound of spraying pepper, the plummeting sound of making a bun fall with a heavyset egg standing on top of it, or the music, there's absolutely no flare to the audio; it's extremely average. On the other hand, I can sum up the controls in three words: right on target. You only have to move up, down, left, and right with the control pad and press A or B when you need to give an extra flavor to your enemies by salting or peppering them up.
Even though the game is tough enough to make even the most patient gamer swear at the innocent television screen, Burger Time is not an impossible game to have fun with. If you get tired of trying to make enough burgers for a busload of starving people by yourself, you can always play a two-player game (taking turns) with a friend. Burger Time doesn't really succeed in making me hungry, but it does provide several minutes of fun while also featuring a lot of laughs. Looking for a fun and challenging arcade hit to add to your collection? Consider purchasing Burger Time.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 04/17/01, Updated 02/23/03
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