The 80’s had a plethora of classic arcade titles. Games like Pac-Man, Centipete, and Joust. Those and other titles rose to fame through the gigantic machines, and one of them was Data East’s BurgerTime. A chef making giant burgers can only be a premise of an old arcade title, which is nice to see some of that classic zaniness back. Courtesy of Data East and XSEED, BurgerTime Party! is a new iteration for the Nintendo Switch. It aims to invigorate the classic franchise while introducing it to a brand new audience. And while the health inspector in me might have some issues, I’d say this is a dish worth having on the menu.
The game centers around Peter Pepper. Peter’s a young chef who must construct gigantic burgers by stepping on ingredients scattered around various floors. In addition, he must avoid a variety of giant sentient food items who want to stop him. While this sounds completely insane, it translates to quite an addicting puzzle game. All levels take place on a single screen on a structure with several floors. Peter can climb on ladders and run over the ingredients in order to knock them down a floor until they reach the bottom and make a tasty burger.
However, the enemies will relentlessly chase Peter around to ensure he cannot complete his dishes. All it takes is one touch by an enemy and a life is lost. Thankfully, Peter has a variety of ways to dispose of his foes. The first is to squash the enemies with the ingredient above them, causing a chain reaction.
An even more effective method is for Peter to use his trusty pepper shaker. This item stuns enemies in place for a few seconds, making it easy to escape their wrath since they can’t harm him. More importantly, if a stunned enemy stands on an ingredient, Peter can knock it down and can rack even more points. This is what makes the game interesting, simply making burgers is easy, but managing to entrap enemies withing a chain grants more points. That being said, enemies have different patterns. Hotdogs would follow Peter’s moves, while Eggs act more erratically, and don’t get me started on the Doughnut.
To spice things up, there are some new gimmicks that are peppered in (wink), such as slippery ice that nullifies traction. However, some of those gimmicks tend to get in the way, causing frustration. For example, there are levers in some levels that would toggle between platforms that extend and detract. The problem is due to the tiny size of characters and the floors themselves, it’s hard to see when a platform is detracts or not.
The game features a variety of modes. “Solo Burger” as the name suggests is a training romp comprised of 30 levels detailing the mechanics of the game. Afterwards there is the “Main Burger” mode that has 100 more levels. Unlike the solo mode, players can enjoy this mode with up to 4 players. Each person plays a different colored Peter Pepper, and the team must coordinate in order to succeed. The catch is that players share lives, so a team is only as strong as their weakest link. While multiplayer in the main mode can be entertaining, the levels seem to have single player in mind with their design.
The better multiplayer option might be “Battle Burger”. This multiplayer exclusive mode allows players to choose between playing as either Peter Pepper or an enemy food. This can prove especially interesting since it also involves special powers for each character. For example, Peter can use his trusty pepper in a pinch. Finally “Challenge Burger” is a gauntlet of levels that players must finish in one playthrough. There’s also a finite number of pepper to use, making levels much harder, true to this mode’s namesake.
Visually there is no denying that the game is bright and colorful. The character designs evoke old cartoons of the 1930’s with round features and big eyes (a little Cuphead-esque if you will). While the character art is charming, the levels themselves don’t have much personality. Sure the game only takes place in a restaurant, but I believe players can suspend disbelief disbelief the moment you see lettuce defeat a giant hotdog. The music is also pretty good, encompassing both the chaos and playfulness of the game well.
One of the oddest problems of the game is lack of D-Pad support. I played the game entirely with a pro-controller, and for an unbeknownst reason only the analog stick worked. This isn’t game breaking, but a 2D game not having compatibility with the D-Pad is baffling to say the least.
For a re-imagining of an arcade classic, BurgerTime Party! is pretty enjoyable. The creative premise, cartoony visuals and multiplayer mayhem are all a part of this multiple course meal. There are some issues like dull level design, intrusive gimmicks and the game itself being rather on the short side. Still, despite those issues, for those who are looking for quirky arcade fun, this dish is worth ordering.