Burgers are one of the joys of life. Whether it’s a delicious, classic meat burger or one of those nifty vegetarian alternatives that are hitting the market nowadays, few foods can compare to a well-made burger. Unless, you know, you kept the ingredients lying around on the floor and made sure to step on them a few times before tossing it all together. BurgerTime makes for a novel arcade platformer, but I don’t think it’ll pass any health inspections.
In this game, you play as a chef who has to assemble several gigantic hamburgers, the components for which are stuck on platforms of varying elevations. You have to ascend a maze of stairs and walk over the buns, patties, and veggies to knock them down to the platforms below, repeating the cycle until all the ingredients have dropped to the lowest platform and formed the finished product of deliciousness.
While you attempt this, endlessly respawning enemies chase you down across the maze. Touching them will cost you one of your lives and set you back a bit, which isn’t too harsh of a punishment and the game does provide you plenty of chances to make it through its 6 levels.
However, the enemy AI is more than a little annoying. When I said that the AI chases you, I meant that literally. Enemies don’t patrol the level or have some interesting behavior (like in the Popeye arcade game), they just chase you. They all pile together and their AI only cares about heading as straight towards you as possible, so their entire behavior is attuned to you. This might make the game fun for optimizing score runs on a high level, but for casual play it feels frustrating to deal with.
Enemies are always right on your tail and unless you keep moving and planning several moves ahead, you’ll cause the enemies to split up and surround you. It’s very easy to get into inescapable situations and I found myself burning through my lives quickly on the first few runs.
A cool feature in the game is that dislodging ingredients on the higher floors first will cause chain reactions. If there is an ingredient below it, it’ll be knocked down right away, saving you a few laps through the maze. Any enemies crushed by the falling ingredients will also be defeated and grant additional points. Sadly, the respawn rate is quite high, so unless you manage to take down a bunch of foes at once, going out of your way to defeat just a few feels like wasted time.
BurgerTime has a creative idea at its center and it’s a challenging game that requires plenty of practice to eventually overcome. With 6 levels before they begin to loop, it technically has more content than the aforementioned Popeye, but the gameplay is more simplistic and I tired of it quickly. It’s not an arcade game I’d revisit from time to time.