Thursday 4 February 2016

BurgerTime (Colecovision review)

Developer: Coleco
Publisher: Coleco
Released: 1984

BurgerTime is a multi-screen action game that was first released in the Arcades in 1982.

The premise is to climb ladders, avoid enemies (which include Hot Dogs, Eggs and Pickles!) and walk over ingredients to drop them downwards and eventually form burgers. There's six stages and only five lives but you do have a limited amount of pepper to throw which temporarily stuns enemies. The game has a few elements of strategy such as learning to drop ingredients at the top of the screen as soon as an enemy starts walking across them; this sets off a chain reaction so instead of the food moving down one level it launches down several at once! It's a fun mechanic that forces you to plan your attacks in advance. However, my main issue is that the game is brutally hard, even on the lowest skill setting! This is partially due to the ruthless enemy A.I. that follow your moves closely and attack in packs, but also the fact that they're slightly faster than you. The controls are a bit dodgy too and sometimes your character will stop in his tracks or continue advancing up a ladder even though you're holding Left or Right to move horizontally. Your supply of pepper doesn't even partially replenish when you lose a life or complete a level (and there's no way to collect more) so the odds are constantly stacked against you. Enemies occasionally respawn right in front of you giving you no time to react; there's also some sprite flicker when multiple enemies congregate in the same area and it can cause issues with seeing exactly where you are in relation to platforms and ladders. The graphics are nice but I wish the play-area was larger as it only takes up a small window instead of being full screen.
BurgerTime is a simple, yet genius, concept that had more potential than it realised. The core mechanics should make for some addictive gameplay but the implementation is poor and it's far too difficult for a home console port where the emphasis should be on fun rather than simulating the coin guzzling fury of the Arcades!
Random trivia: Unlike the original Arcade game and the Colecovision port, the Intellivision version (1983) featured seven stages instead of six.

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