November 9, 2011

Review – BurgerTime: World Tour

Review BurgerTime World Tour
BurgerTime: World Tour is a re-imagining of the arcade classic BurgerTime. Both games feature a chef named Peter Pepper, who must climb a series of Donkey Kong-style girders in order to assemble giant hamburgers – by walking on their vertically aligned ingredients in order to push them downward, all while avoiding an army of living man-sized food.

In almost every other regard, however, these are two radically different games.

BurgerTime is a lot like Resident Evil, in that both are games of survival and conservation of ammo in the face of hordes of the reanimated dead, the difference being that the deceased in BurgerTime were first pickled, or ground into sausages.

Hold on, I’m going somewhere with this…

With that comparison in mind, BurgerTime: World Tour is the Resident Evil 4 of the series, in which the protagonist is instead constantly armed to the teeth and stumbling upon more firepower than he can use. Once again, it is a controversial move, but for BurgerTime, the change isn’t as successful.

Review BurgerTime World Tour
Ever play the original BurgerTime?

Remember how you started with very little pepper with which to stun enemies, and regained it with items that appeared with the frequency of Pac-Man fruit? To add insult to injury, that pepper was supposed to last you the entire game.

In what seems to be an effort to modernize the formula, each of World Tour’s 50 levels is a completely self-contained experience, and upon stacking all of the burgers within a level, Mr. Pepper starts anew in the next level with a full supply of pepper and lives.

As if that wasn’t enough help, the levels are peppered (sorry, I really couldn’t think of a better word) with power-ups that either refill Peter’s shaker or give him some new sort of enemy killing/evading ability. The challenge is not to survive each level using pepper as a last resort if cornered, but rather to spray that pepper with all the discretion of an Oakland cop and finish stacking the burgers as fast as possible, thus earning yourself rankings that range between one and five stars, as well as competing against an online leaderboard, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Review BurgerTime World Tour
In addition to Peter Pepper’s newfound armory of food-subduing items, he can also jump; he can jump off the ground, he can jump from ladders, and even onto ladders as if he’s some cross between the Swedish Chef and Jason Bourne.

Sticking a landing isn’t pleasant, but not being completely screwed if you’re climbing a ladder with enemies nearby is still a welcome change to the recipe. Of course, with great power comes great responsibility. In BurgerTime: World Tour, “great responsibility” is often confused with “half-baked vertical ascents littered with unstable and/or moving platforms”. Sometimes it seems as if the game wants you to fall and go all the way to the other end of the level to start again.

Review BurgerTime World Tour
There are some levels that focus heavily on a new rocket power-up that vaults Peter several stories in the air, and that’s mildly fun, in a “no idea what sort of spiky death awaits you above or below” trial and error sort of way. Regardless, that does offer more of a change of pace than the boss battles, which are essentially normal levels with several more obstacles and a cultural stereotype of a chef in the middle of the stage taunting you.

Admittedly the first boss fight is pretty amusing; one of Peter’s rival chefs has built a machine that sends cows down a conveyor belt into a processor that turns them into burgers. Peter Pepper, who for some reason believes that burgers should be made the old fashioned way – by repeatedly trampling across the top bun with one’s feet – sabotages the machine by putting hamburgers onto the conveyor belt, creating some sort of burger paradox that eventually destroys the machine. It’s the kind of twisted logic that gets funnier the more you think about it.

Review BurgerTime World Tour
One of my biggest concerns upon hearing of this game’s existence was that Peter Pepper would fall on the same sword that many other classic arcade icons have when trying to make the jump to 3D graphics – a generic and ugly sword. Sadly, this sword goes clean through his torso and pokes out the other side.

Admittedly, BurgerTime’s chef isn’t exactly the most iconic figure in gaming, but he deserves better than to be given purple Justin Bieber hair and a character model with the proportions of an Xbox Avatar, and a quarter of the polygons. His face is a sign that reads “abandon all hope ye who enter here” put in front of this game.

The levels are the most colorful piles of clutter this side of an episode of Hoarders, and are arranged within a cylinder (think the boss battles from Sonic Rush). While this may add the illusion of depth to the game, as well as provide a logical approach to the time-tested arcade trope of a character entering one side of the screen and exiting the other, it also means that half of the level isn’t visible most of the time. If not for a burger icon that points to the location of the closest unfinished burger within the level, there would be an abundance of moments where I would be completely lost amidst that mess.

Review BurgerTime World Tour
In addition to the cylindrical levels, there is a list of aesthetic choices that work against the gameplay longer than the list of components of a Big Mac. More often than not, the screen is a cluttered mess of clashing colors and vaguely defined walls and/or passages that are only visible from certain angles.

The myriad of special platforms in the game commit a similar offense; these disappearing and/or crumbling platforms are easily distinguishable when viewed from the top, but this is a game viewed from the side, which proves especially troublesome.

Figure 1.1: The swapping platforms in BurgerTime: World Tour are absolute dogballs.

One of the worst examples of said trouble is a swapping platform that works a lot like that one from Super Mario Galaxy, which is a domino-shaped framework with a tile that’s either red in one area or yellow in the other. This worked well in Galaxy because the camera angle was high enough to readily tell which side of the platform was the active one. In BurgerTime: World Tour, this platform is sometimes seen at an angle where the framework is all that is visible, leading to a lot of guesswork and cheap falls.

I refer to this diagram that I just drew in MS Paint.

BurgerTime: World Tour is much more than an HD remake of the original, but it is also somewhat less. I like the idea of a faster and more capable chef, but he seems almost too capable. Also, the fact that he’s placed inside a series of ugly cylindrical labyrinths doesn’t help much either. It’s a fun game, but simply not fun enough to make me overlook the flaws.

Frozen Codebase

MoneyPaw Games, Konami

Xbox 360 (Xbox LIVE Arcade), PlayStation Network (WiiWare, PC TBA) (Xbox LIVE Arcade Reviewed)

Singleplayer, Local Multiplayer, Online Multiplayer

Release Date
November 2, 2011 Xbox LIVE Arcade / November 15, 2011 PlayStation Network (WiiWare, PC TBA)

800 Microsoft Points, $9.99

*A copy of this title was provided by the publisher for review

1 Comment »

  1. Great review! I’ll try the demo on PSN once its available.

    Comment by EdEN — November 11, 2011 @ 5:56 am

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