BurgerTime (Arcade) is the Retro Game of the Week for 6 September, 2016

Released: 1982
Publisher: Data East / Bally Midway
Developer: Data East
Platform: Arcade
Genre: Platformer
Played on: MAME emulator, gamepad

I know that when I want a delicious hamburger, I want one that has been stomped on by a tiny chef over and over again while being chased by food. Yum.

BurgerTime is a typically weird and nonsensical arcade game where the goal is to build hamburgers.  Each part of a hamburger is on a different level of a ladder-connected series of platforms, and you, a tiny little chef (or a normal sized chef making enormous hamburgers) must walk across each part (ew!) to make them drop down to a lower platform, and, eventually, onto a plate where it is assembled into a finished burger.  Meanwhile, you’re being chased by other foods, apparently angry that you dare… make hamburgers?  (Yeah, this is why videogames shouldn’t have stories.  It’s best when you accept the weirdness on its own terms and just play the damn game.)  You can stun them by sprinkling a limited supply of pepper on them, and squish them by dropping a hamburger part on them.  If they get stunned on a part of the hamburger that you walk across and drop, their weight will allow the parts to continue dropping more than just one level, as the hamburger parts do normally.

Of course, the strategy in this game is the same as many maze chase games — lure, avoid, and accomplish what you need while the enemies are trying to catch back up to you.  It seems best to use the limited supply of pepper to ensure a quick burger drop rather than an offensive/defensive weapon normally, but many times you will find yourself in jeopardy and need to use it as such.  The fun part of this game is the strategy you will need to use to do all of this effectively.

However, when playing this game via emulation, I noticed a problem that I really didn’t seem to remember having playing this back in the arcade: the game is really exact on moving off and on to ladders, and many times I would get stuck trying to get off or on one, causing me to lose lives I really shouldn’t be losing.  (This is demonstrated in the above video, and why I chose to upload one that didn’t get very far in the game but demonstrated several control problem attempts.)  I am not sure if it’s just me, or the emulation, or the controller I’m using, but I really don’t remember having these problems.  It’s still a fun game, but my memory of it is now a bit tainted by these issues that have cropped up.

Still, if you want to have the thrill of creating burgers with shoeprints all over them, this is your game.  Seriously, yuck.