Hold the tomato...and those ice platforms.
BurgerTime is one of my favorite classic arcade games, but not at the actual arcades. Hardly anyone had it, after all, so it was difficult to get any good at it. Rather, I loved it for the Intellivision, on which my brothers and I kept a pen-and-paper leaderboard running well into adulthood. Honestly, it would still be going if our Intellivision still worked.
With BurgerTime Party! from developer G-Mode, we’re getting a new way to play and a worldwide leaderboard on which to compete.
BurgerTime can perhaps be described as a mash-up of Donkey Kong and Pac-Man. You’ve got ladders and platforms to navigate like in Donkey Kong, but instead of trying to reach the top to save a princess you’ve got to run across burger ingredients in order to drop them onto a plate: buns, patties, lettuce, cheese. Serving a quality lunch is surely nobler an endeavor than rescuing a princess from an ape (and is a more accurate representation of my youth).
The Pac-Mac similarity comes from the enemies trying to stop you, but here they’re hot dogs, pickles, eggs, and that accursed donut as opposed to ghosts. Given the choice between the two, I’ll take pursuit by the deli items because you can slow them down with pepper. If your pursuers are standing on a burger item when you drop it they’ll be momentarily stunned and the ingredient will fall through multiple levels towards the plate. If you drop the ingredient on the enemies they will disappear and soon regenerate to resume their pursuit.
So, that’s your basic gameplay. Climb and descend ladders to drop burger items while avoiding enemies. Bonus items will sometimes appear to help you on your way (chicken nuggets that freeze time, chili peppers that cause you to spit fire, etc.), but not always in a convenient location. One wrong turn and you can find yourself trapped. BurgerTime requires precise control, and whereas you’ll occasionally perish because you missed an exit from a ladder, G-Mode did a good job keeping the gameplay tight.
That right there is enough to be a great game, but BurgerTime Party has expanded the menu. (Because I respect you as a reader, I promise that will be the only food/kitchen related pun in this review.) As is implied by the name, there are now multiplayer components involved. Up to four gamers can play on one screen, either cooperatively as chefs or as chefs vs. angry food. The gameplay is appropriately chaotic in these modes, and you’ll learn a lot about your friends and family after you’ve been “knocked” by the enemy and are hoping for a rescue before you die. The action is also hard to follow. Uniform color changes are all that differentiate the chefs, making it hard to keep track of who’s who. Don’t even think about attempting this in handheld or tabletop mode on the Switch.
And sadly, multiplayer is couch only, not online. Bummer for me and my brothers.
But there’s more to this party than just multiplayer. When you first launch BurgerTime Party it forces you through way-too-simple tutorial levels to teach you the basics. They do introduce new elements such as ice levels, trap doors, and air ducts, so you’ll want to pay attention. They also push you along the single-player setup for accomplishing specific goals to achieve star ratings.
The goals aren’t actually defined, however, so I often got three stars on one level and barely hit one on the next with no idea of what I ever did right or wrong. Playing through this mode quickly unlocks the various multiplayer options and, more importantly, the Classic mode which plays like the actual arcade game. It’s just you and a seemingly countless number of stages to try to complete—some of which are based on the actual arcade stages. Different skill levels are available here, so there’s plenty to keep you entertained after the multiplayer party has ended.
I do wish, however, that the classic mode included the classic arcade game design. The fancy backdrops here are fine, with the stages designed to look like multi-level building interiors.
The ingredients look more appetizing, too, with a wider variety of items that include footlong hot dogs to assemble.These modern graphics, however, add nothing to the game and simply aren’t as visually striking as the blue platforms against the black backgrounds of the original.
I also don’t like the character designs of the new game. Peter Pepper looks like a jerk, quite honestly. It’s not hard to imagine why the food is out to get him.
But that’s nitpicking. The gameplay stands up quite well despite how you feel about the design work, and there are plenty of game modes here to keep you entertained.
Review: BurgerTime Party! (Nintendo Switch)
If I could find a $7.99 port of the BurgerTime arcade game (or, preferably, its Intellivision counterpart), that would be enough. That doesn’t exist, however, so thankfully BurgerTime Party adds enough new content to justify its $19.99 asking price. The core arcade gameplay is as fun as ever, and although not all of the additions are necessary (or wanted), Marvelous got enough right to make this an entertaining diversion whether you’re playing with a group or on your own.