Articles

LGR – Burgertime – Arcade, INTV, PC Game Review

September 25, 2019


[upbeat rock music] [typing] [LGR VO]
Mmm, burgers. Nature’s way of reminding you that life
is short and you’re gonna die anyway, so you may as well live it up while you can. Mmm, time. Nature’s way of reminding you that life
is short and you’re gonna die anyway, so you may as well live it up while you can. Mmm, Burgertime, developed and manufactured by Data East and
distributed by Bally Midway in the U.S. in 1982. Yeah, it’s time for burgers! It’s burgers for time! It’s Burgertime. And it was one of the more popular
arcade games of ’82 for good reason. So fun that I’m going to review it, but not before letting you know
about the DECO Cassette System. Why? Because I am LGR,
and I am just kind of like that. [Southern twang]
So lemme tell y’all a story [normal voice]
about how arcade games
back in the day were released on unmodifiable boards
filled with ROM chips and such. This meant that when an arcade owner wanted a
new game, they had to buy an entire new cabinet, or an entire new board, which was an expensive hassle that nobody liked, except for those with an
unnatural penchant for chaos. So the Data East Corporation came up
with an oddball solution to this problem they called the DECO Cassette System, used with games like Burgertime,
Lock ‘n’ Chase and several others. The idea was that you would
still have all the regular hardware, but instead of the game
burned onto chips already, you had a cassette tape that you’d
insert into a special tape reader which would then copy the game to the
appropriate chips in two to three minutes. Pretty ingenious stuff, except that apparently the cassette
transfers were often unreliable junk. They could be demagnetized,
the game data could be corrupted, they’d wander off and give
you wet willies in your sleep, and most of the games on
offer were of pretty low quality. But not so with Burgertime. Burgertime had burgers and time,
and it was awesome. Now, Burgertime also came on non-DECO boards, but whatever version you come across, you play as chef Peter Pepper, assembling burgers ingredient by ingredient by stepping on them, smashing them through the floor and
dropping them down one piece at a time. Unsanitary as nuts, but who cares?
You’re a master chef with an alliterative name that gets results,
and you can’t argue with that. And you really should get hazard pay because you also get chased
by anthropomorphic food stuffs: Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle and Mr. Egg. And, uh… I have no idea why these foods are so deadly. I mean, why wouldn’t you just
eat them when they got near, right? What are they even gonna do when they catch you? On second thought, I don’t want to know. So the idea is to not touch these freaks, and if they do get too close for comfort, make like an overzealous riot cop and pepper them in the face
so they’re disabled temporarily. You can also drop food down on top
of them, or drop them with the food, which adds another layer of complexity
that’s just the right amount of complex for you to not fry your brain over. Ah, another example of fantastic arcade gameplay that gobbled up credits with its deceptive simplicity, so of course it got all sorts of ports and
conversions to home systems of the day. From here on, we’ll be
looking at two of my favorites: the Mattel Intellivision and
the IBM PC booter versions. First is the Intellivision, and yeah, just considering the controller for this
system with its weird golden directional disc, you may assume that a game like this requiring
quick and precise movement may suck with it. But on the contrary, for an arcade
conversion to a console of this time period, this is actually really good stuff. Sure, the levels may be a bit lacking in complexity, and the graphics are lacking in color enough to make the burger patties
look more like fat green turds, but the gameplay is still there and that’s what matters. Wander around, dodging evil food, eating non-evil food for points, stomping on food for your paying customers and macing the crap out of
anything that looks at you funny. It’s Burgertime with slightly different levels, basically, and that’s more than fine by me for
such an early home arcade conversion. And the weird controller doesn’t even get in the way due to the way the controls are programmed. It gives you a tiny bit more leeway in
when you have to change directions, and once you get used to it,
it’s incredibly forgiving, while still remaining just as
challenging as the arcade original. And as a bipedal cherry on top, the sound and music are
actually pretty darn good, too, thanks to some clever programming of the Intellivision’s AY-3-8910 sound chip. As a result, this is one of my
favorite games for the system, and it’s just an enjoyable
version of Burgertime regardless. But arguably even better is the IBM PC
version, also converted by Mattel. And yeah, the PC wasn’t known for decent
arcade conversions in the early-to-mid-’80s at all, so saying that may come as a surprise if you’re… me. Or someone like me, and in that case,
wow, we’re really strange, aren’t we? Anyway, this is a pretty sweet arcade
conversion for 1982 on the PC, and it starts with the options menu. You can change the speed the game plays at, the level you start on, customize the controls and
even the sound and video options. Unfortunately, the graphics and sound
are pretty weak in this version due to the limitations of PC hardware at the time. Well, sort of. But we’ll get to that later. What we’ll get to now is the fact that the
level layouts and gameplay are far closer to the original arcade game,
which is just fantastic. And it’s actually even more
playable than the arcade version, thanks to the similar lax handling of the
changing of directions like the Intellivision game. You just don’t have to be so stinking
precise on when you move on or off ladders, which makes evading enemies that much easier once you learn how to plan your moves
slightly ahead of your character’s location. And it’s especially welcome if
you speed up the game a wee bit, which really adds some
extra challenge if you need it without it being entirely too annoying. But remember what I said about the
graphics and sound kind of sucking? Yeah, the sound is pretty much suck regardless. But if you had a color composite
monitor instead of an RGB one, you could actually do something
about the graphics in the options menu. Due to how composite color
is output to a CRT display, programmers could actually
sort of trick the computer into showing more than the
standard four colors of CGA at once, which makes the game look
incredibly close to how it should. It’s slightly blurrier to look at here, but on a real monitor,
it actually looks quite superb. Either way, though, the gameplay
is freaking solid in this version and while there are plenty
of others to choose from, it is the classic home
conversion I go back to the most. And if you weren’t familiar
with Burgertime before now, well it’s just a game I’d really recommend
if you like classic arcade goodness and squishing ingredients
through floors with your feet. [PC speaker fanfare] [Burgertime arcade music plays]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *