Review by Psycho Penguin

"This should have been called McDonalds' Worst Nightmare..."

Sometimes a game just comes out and surprises you.

Who would have ever known that a game about a chef trying to make a hamburger would be popular?

Burger Time is one of those odd video games that has this weird premise but somehow manages to be fun and unique. There is no other game out there quite like Burger Time. The only game that comes close is one of the better games on Action 52, but other than that, this is a compelling gaming experience that manages to be fresh and unique. But it doesn't rest on those laurels alone, as it manages to provide hours of fun.

One day I bought a bunch of old Atari games. I came home and decided to try all of them out. One of the ones I saw was ''Burger Time'', an old Arcade game I had heard of but had sadly never had the chance to play. I put on the game and hit the power button. I didn't know what to expect, but it turns out I got my 2 dollars worth, and a whole lot more.

There isn't much of a storyline to the game, it basically involves a chef that is chasing after running food. He has to make a complete burger, and to do so, he has to get all the ingredients together, but that doesn't mean that the ingredients want to be made into a hamburger. SO HILARITY ENSUES! This wasn't written by Square's plot department, but it's still an interesting and fairly creative story.

This has to be the weirdest game ever created for the Atari, which is saying something, considering some of the crap the console produced. And to think that this was originally an Arcade game. You control Peter Pepper, and you have to make burgers. By climbing ladders, you have the opportunity to collect ingredients, which then fall one level down. Any ingredients that were in rungs directly below will also fall down a level, and eventually, if you line up the ingredients correctly, you will make burgers and the stage will be completed.

Of course, Peter Pepper is not going to be dumb enough to engage in battle with feisty foods without having a trick or two up his sleeve, so you do have the use of some salt and pepper to contain the enemy's movement for a few seconds. Now, it should be common sense that you're not going to get an unlimited use of this, as that would make the game pretty easy, so you only get a few opportunities to use them. You have to collect containers that appear on the screen, and then as you use them, your number of uses will decrease.

You can also kill enemies by squashing food ingredients on top of their poor souls. Remember how I explained that if you walk on top of an ingredient, it falls down a level? Imagine if a food delicacy was walking directly below the ingredient as you pushed it down.. that's right, the ingredient would squash the food, and you'd have one less enemy to worry about. Of course, if you missed, you'd be screwed, but that's all part of the fun. Also, if you manage to hit an enemy with the ingredient, it will fall down an extra level, which makes watching the enemy's movements significantly more important then it normally would be.

There's a lot of strategy involved, which makes the game a whole lot of fun, but sadly there is a somewhat major flaw. The enemies suddenly appear in waves in the latter stages of the game, and they bum rush you from time to time, which makes setting up a useful strategy extremely hard. Also, due to the control setup of the Atari 2600 controller, you may find yourself accidentally using that last salt container from time to time.

Besides that major frustrations, Burger Time controls a whole lot better than the average Atari game does. The joypad makes surveying the various ladders and platforms a breeze, and overall the controls are accurate and responsive. Yes, due to the setup of the controller, you may find yourself pushing A or B on accident from time to time (or at least I did), but you'd get used to that quickly.

The game doesn't look quite as good as the Arcade version, due to some minor breakup, but overall the graphics are still very respectable. I especially enjoyed some of the hilarious enemy designs. I don't know, but the whole visual of a hot dog chasing after a chef trying to find a leaf of lettuce to squash a egg while a pickle chases after him is pretty unique and funny. The backgrounds are plain black, but the enemy designs and character design more than makes up for the lack of detail.

The sound effects are deadly accurate when compared to the Arcade version, and therefore there's some good music. Yes, it sounds like every other Arcade game did in the early 80's, but it does sound pretty good. I wish there was a little bit more varied music, and the sound effects could have used some more work, but overall I was pretty impressed with the audio aspect of the game.

Due to the high amount of strategy involved, you may want to play Burger Time through several times just to find new ways to complete a stage. However, the game is quite short, clocking in at only six stages, and therefore the game decides to be challenging by throwing an extreme amount of enemies at you later on. It gets really tough really quickly. A few more stages with a more balanced challenge level would have been appreciated.

I don't see why Burger Time is hated by so many people. Not only is it unique, it's also fun. The story may not be the best on the planet, but at least it's unique. And the game lets you rely on your brains in order to complete it. You can't get away with just pushing a few buttons. Instead, you have to figure out a way to make hamburgers, and you also have to watch the enemies to see if you can squash them using ingredients. It's a whole lot of fun, and it adds a whole new level of depth that is rarely seen in an early 80's game. It comes highly recommended even with its flaws.

Who knew?

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/12/02, Updated 07/12/02

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