Plenty of effort can and should go into preparing any delicious meal, whether it's an intricate Anglo-Indian dish or a lovingly rubbed and grilled steak at a backyard BBQ. The reasoning's simple: everyone enjoys good eats, and BurgerTime World Tour should be held to their appetites' high expectations. Based on the Data East classic, can the new BurgerTime please everyone's palate, or does it leave them wanting?
BurgerTime World Tour's publisher, MonkeyPaw Games, has a history of re-releasing old titles someone else cooked up. That's not all bad, since it ensures yesterday's work doesn't go to waste, but hardly anyone gets excited about reheated goods. To spice things up, they've joined forces with Frozen Codebase, a developer whose doors opened in the mid-2000s. Openly obsessing over how well-seasoned its founders are, they're currently known for dishing out casual releases, which is about as thrilling as MonkeyPaw's habit of serving old stuff. Maybe.
BurgerTime World Tour isn't awful; anyone who isn't crotchety enough to fondly recall the original may savor the modern iteration.
All right, forget the feigned justification - it's flat-out boring. Nonetheless, let's take a moment to think about this. MonkeyPaw's catalog is packed with retro entries, ranging from shoot-'em-ups and puzzlers to RPGs, while Frozen Codebase cranks out simplistic titles for the mainstream market. That's a good mix for a new BurgerTime . . . isn't it?
While World Tour gets the basic ingredients right - Peter Pepper's got his toque, a paralyzing pepper shaker, and the urge to stomp burger buns and patties alike - it adds a controversial new feature: jumping. For those wondering why this ruins everything, here's how the original (and, for the most part, BurgerTime World Tour) plays out: you're set in a huge structure of scaffolding and ladders, and on nearly every level, there's a hamburger component (e.g., a tomato slice) laying around. As the protagonist Peter Pepper, you must sprint across these ingredients to make them fall through to a lower level. Eventually, you'll force every piece to the bottom floor, completing a gigantic hamburger in the process.
You won't go through all that food prep without challenge, however, as hot dogs, eggs, and pickles lumber around on two legs, randomly climbing ladders and trying to block your passage. If you're faced with one of them and are pepper-less, you're forced to retreat or lose a life. It's a fundamental part of the original BurgerTime's difficulty, and it's completely dashed by the addition of a jump button in BurgerTime World Tour.
When you encounter foes, you can leap over them, effortlessly conserving your pepper for whenever you're too lazy to lunge. If you want to quash them, there's (supposedly) another option: running across a burger component located directly above them. When it crashes down, it should temporarily remove them from the playing field, but during our hands-on time at E3, this failed to happen roughly three out of four times. That's unacceptable, as it worked flawlessly in the 1982 original, and so should it in the 2011 remake. You may think this is fixable, but World Tour's currently slated for a summer 2011 release; since it's already mid-June, the half-baked product on the show floor will be close to, if not exactly, what we'll get.
Perhaps we're being a bit harsh, though. This is MonkeyPaw's first foray into semi-original IP territory, and - well, Frozen Codebase doesn't have any excuses, especially since it proudly refers to past titles its current group didn't develop, while the games it's actually responsible for have been tepidly received. Still, BurgerTime World Tour isn't awful; anyone who isn't crotchety enough to fondly recall the original may savor the modern iteration.
BurgerTime World Tour's maps are vividly colored, outshining the simple white scaffolding and black emptiness of the original. Whereas its gameplay mechanics are inspired by 2D platforming and therefore decidedly old-school, the modernist stages have circular and fully 3D layouts. This lets players see what's happening on the other side of the level, eliminating the need for in-game maps and anything else that would complicate what should be a simple, fast-paced, and purely "arcadey" experience.
Another welcome component is the local split-screen multiplayer, which a tragically large amount of downloadable games lack. Rendered as swiftly and sharply as the single-player version, it's a quick-moving homage to the days before online gaming, back when you would happily play with a bunch of friends in one room. However, if you're too into today's luxuries to invite anyone over, online multiplayer is an option too.
While those modes already pack in a lot of replayability value, there's more to be had: you can add unconventional ingredients to create special burgers, collect letters to spell out words for bonuses (a la BurgerTime Delight), use those methods to build astronomically high scores, and do it all over the course of fifty stages. That's a lot of burger building, and could keep leaderboard perfectionists at the grill for a long, long time - especially the younger ones.
Those of us older folk who remember the original BurgerTime and its kin may be underwhelmed by World Tour's comparative ease (and find its large size a drag rather than a draw). Nonetheless, the single and multiplayer options, abundance of stages, and mainstream accessibility could attract enough newer chefs as to bring Peter Pepper a modern bun-stomping success. When it's released within the next month or two, take a taste, and see which side of the "love it or hate it" camp you fall into - in the interim, I'm going to apologize to myself for all those food-related allusions by getting something to eat.