Many consider the eighties a golden era for arcade games, with titles like Pac-Man and Outrun gobbling up pocket money like crazy. Series like these have received their fair share of reboots and remakes, too. It was in 1982 when Peter Pepper made his first appearance in BurgerTime. Flash-forward 37 years later, and now we have BurgerTime Party! What you get is a pumped-up version of the arcade classic, only with excess filler at a rather steep price.
Poor Peter Pepper has having a bad shift. His restaurant is being invaded by sentient ingredients he tossed in the bin! Not one to question what sort of Satanic rituals must’ve been taking place to make this happen, the head chef sets off to whip up some tasty, oversized meals while dodging the spoils. Surprisingly, the character designs look like they were taken straight out of a Cuphead concept art booklet. Pair that up with some toony sound effects, colourful visuals and a peppy – although admittedly generic – soundtrack to accompany things, and what you’re left with is a damn fine-lookin’ game. The loading times are speedy and it runs well enough, but a lot of the big maps are a bit difficult to see on the Switch’s tiny screen.
Each stage is made up of a series of planks and ladders. There are giant ingredients for burgers and hotdogs – meat, buns, veggies, etc. – which need to be walked all over in order to plop them onto a plate at the bottom of the stage. It may be unhygienic, but the ingredients will drop down a floor, sometimes knocking other burger bits underneath it in the process. When all of the food is prepped, the level is completed. There are a few neat twists to complicate things, like slippery surfaces, treadmills, vents to travel through, and more. Annoyingly, you can’t drop off ledges, meaning you’ll have to solely rely on ladders or fragile floors in order to drop downward.
Just like in the original game, the spoiled nosh will begin running around the kitchen, either by directly chasing Peter Pepper or just wandering around aimlessly. You can douse their faces with pepper to stun them temporarily, even when you’re on a ladder. Burger ingredients can even flatten them, or send dropping them down a floor or two. However, if they touch you, you’ll lose one of your three lives. Each stage has a point bar, which you need to fill up by defeating enemies and making meals. The gold, silver and bronze ranking system is there to encourage you to replay levels in order to experiment with getting the most points possible, though some of the requirements are incredibly steep. To summarize, beating each level isn’t that challenging. Getting the top marks is, however, but it’s not like there’s any persuasive reason to replay them in order to snag the gold.
There are four game modes. Solo Burger is made up of 20 training missions that just seem to bloat the level count (do you really need a single mission that requires you to walk right to win?), and another 20 compact “puzzle” stages. Truthfully, some of them a bit gimmicky and have a specific path to follow in order to beat. Main Burger contains the meat of the game, that being 40 missions with more enemy types, level hazards, and even power-ups. Now you can trap enemies with nuggets, or burn them with a chili pepper. It also supports up to four players, which just makes the game feel a bit cluttered with so many players on-screen.
Challenge Mode plays more like the original game, as it features large stages much like the ones . Power-ups are included, but players get three lives each this time. It comes with three unlockable difficulty modes and a ‘classic’ mode with no gimmicks and more foes. It’s essentially an endurance mode, and a great one at that since the main objective is to rack up the highest score possible for the online leaderboards. Finally, there’s Battle Burger, a 2v2 versus mode. The chefs need to make the meals while the spoils must K.O. them, only now they have a rechargeable dash ability. What makes it even better are the numerous items that can be collected to increase your speed, increase the effectiveness of your attacks, and so on. It’s a lot of frantic fun that’s great for couch-play.
BurgerTime Party is a bit like fast food – it’s tastier with friends, but still somewhat enjoyable alone when taken in moderation. It’s a pretty easy game to if you’re simply trying to complete each level regardless of performance. The gameplay itself is true to the source material, with some neat twists and bonus additions, though there’s a fair bit of excess baggage to this one. At least there’s still fun to be had in Battle Burger and Challenge Mode, which are frantic and addictive. It’s hardly a sizzler, but it’ll sit well in your stomach if snagged at a discount.