It's beginning to feel like every classic game is getting a remake or reboot. Just this year alone we've seen new installments of Elevator Action, GoldenEye 007 and even Boulder Dash. Apparently BurgerTime is the next winner in the reboot lottery, giving the developers a chance to add their own unique seasoning on this 30 year old recipe.
The original involved Peter Pepper defending his burger establishment from the local competition. The idea was to walk over extremely large hamburger toppings (meat, cheese, lettuce, bun, etc.) and assemble a tasty burger. Unfortunately you were constantly being harassed by the competition's minions, played by oversized vegetables and meats. In essence it was a maze game; think Pac-Man with a fondness for fast food.
BurgerTime: World Tour does feature the same basic concept (build burgers, dodge bad tasting bad guys), but this time around it sprinkles on some new ingredients for a meatier Xbox Live Arcade game. This time around players do more than simply run away from enemies, now you can jump and use special power-up items. At its best it evokes the spirit of Donkey Kong '94, the seminal Game Boy game that reinvented a Nintendo classic and made it bigger and better.
As the title suggests, BurgerTime: World Tour takes Peter Pepper beyond the bustling streets of New York City. Players will are in for a fun-filled trip to Mexico, France and Japan. Each world has its own look, special burgers and enemies. The levels start out easy enough, but quickly become enormous platforming puzzles that will take both skill and patience. You're judged on how many lives it takes and how quickly you are able to complete the required burger order.
Although the game is played as a traditional 2D platformer, the design has you running around a giant circle to complete the burgers. The result feels like you're spinning around a giant pole or tree trunk, watching characters run back and forth dodging bad guys. For the most part this unique design doesn't affect gameplay. You are still forced to find each part of the burger, walk over it and make the different types of burgers. However, because the stages are so much larger this time around, the developers had a lot of room to create large, intricate challenges that will take some doing to complete.
As was the case in the original, Peter Pepper comes equipped with a can of, well, pepper. This stuns the enemies for a few seconds and allows the player to run right past them without taking any damage. On top of the pepper spray, Peter will also find a bunch of other cool secondary power-ups. Perhaps the most useful is the spatula, which sends your character spinning and knocking all nearby enemies off the level. Other items include the ability to run real fast, a jetpack and one that freezes any enemy that gets close to you. Peter is also able to kill bad guys by sending a burger layer crashing down on them.
Unfortunately BurgerTime: World Tour suffers from a number of frustrating problems. While the basic levels are full of platforming fun, the pacing comes to a grinding halt the moment you go head-to-head with one of the game's four bosses. Here you are forced to, you guessed it, make burgers to kill enormous creatures. That's not a terrible idea, but the execution is occasionally frustrating. I found these stages to be full of too many cheap deaths, something only made worse with the bosses constantly shaking the levels. I would have preferred more stages over these obnoxious boss encounters.
I was also annoyed by the game's collision detection. It isn't always clear how far away from something you need to stand before getting killed. This becomes even worse as the game starts introducing icy tiles, spikes and other hazards. Even more frustrating is how enemies will survive what appears to be a direct hit from you crashing a burger bun on his head.
It's worth pointing out that the game is incredibly ugly, easily one of the worst looking Xbox Live Arcade games I've reviewed. BurgerTime: World Tour started its life as a Wii game, which may have something to do with the game's muddy visuals. The sound design is nothing to write home about either, though it doesn't stand out as much as the low res graphics.
It's worth noting that the brand new Peter Pepper looks an awful lot like famed actor, Peter Dinklage (who recently won an Emmy for his work on Game of Thrones). The similarity is uncanny, which makes me wonder if MonkeyPaw Games is gearing up for the BurgerTime movie. If you're not interested in playing as Peter, you can bring your own Xbox Live avatar to do all the work.
MonkeyPaw's newest game is just interesting enough to keep players hooked for the full 40 stages. The platforming puzzles are a lot of fun, even if the boss stages could have used some work. The game also offers a competitive multiplayer mode, forcing players to build burgers as fast as possible. There's a lot to like in BurgerTime: World Tour if you can get over the rough edges. Peter Pepper's adventure is a lot of fun, but by the end I was craving something more than fast food.