When people think of Data East's games, they tend to think of Joe & Mac and Karnov, but one title that's just as much of a classic but never seems to get mentioned that often is BurgerTime. Originally debuting in arcades and being ported to many platforms, it was an endlessly looping, fast-paced game with six levels that required quick thinking and fast reactions.
Pretty much all of its ports to home consoles just featured the same levels, but it also got a completely new game on the Game Boy in the form of BurgerTime Deluxe, featuring none of the original levels and instead having 24 completely new levels with a flashier makeover.
The core of the game remains unchanged, however. You play Peter Pepper, a chef whose restaurant has been invaded by several pieces of living food, like sausages and eggs. Somehow, the only way to get rid of these pests is to create gigantic burgers by walking across the components, like the buns, meat and lettuce, spread out across various platforms connected with ladders. It might not win an award for realism, but its gameplay still holds up well today.
The core goal of the game is pretty simple, as all you have to do is walk over each piece of each burger until every one has been dropped off the platforms. But just running around from one to the next won’t cut it: you need to be strategic and make use of several clever techniques to outwit the enemies, because they come in large numbers, and it's very easy to get cornered.
For instance, dropping a segment of a burger on top of an enemy will kill him (and will also knock all other burger pieces below down one level), but he'll reappear from a door mere seconds later. Dropping a piece of a burger while an enemy is standing on it, however, will send the enemy down with it — this won't kill the enemy and he'll immediately continue chasing you, but it will result in the dropped piece and every piece below it dropping down two levels rather than one, and even more than that if there's more than one enemy on it.
If you'd rather take a more direct approach to things, there's also pepper which Peter can throw at enemy time to temporarily stun any enemy hit by it, allowing him to quickly run by, but you've only got a limited supply and the only way to get more is by picking up the item that spawns at certain times on every stage. Other items can also be useful, like a bag of fries that kills all on-screen enemies, and a chocolate bar that gives you temporary invincibility and stuns any enemy you run through, perfect for getting a whole bunch on a burger piece and then dropping it. Of course, you can also find the occasional extra life.
The enemies all have very specific behaviour when it comes to chasing Peter, and this is also something that must be figured out to become a pro at the game. Most of them will be inclined to take any ladder they come across, regardless of Peter being straight past it rather than upstairs or downstairs, which can be used to get out of a sticky situation in which there's no nearby burger pieces and you're all out of pepper.
Although fun and with a whole lot more levels than the arcade original, BurgerTime Deluxe is still on the relatively short side. 24 levels seems like a lot, but most of them can quickly be finished in a minute or two, and you'll get a password after every four levels that makes losing all your lives not that big of a deal. On the plus side, the game has cute, charming graphics and an upbeat, catchy soundtrack with a different song after every eight levels to keep things a bit fresh.
Although quite a bit longer than the original arcade game, BurgerTime Deluxe is still not quite a lengthy game. Its 24 levels are sure to entertain, but if you're looking for a longer lasting investment this probably isn't the right place. But perhaps its simple fun can tide you over until the release of BurgerTime World Tour on WiiWare? Regardless, it's nice to see the 3DS Virtual Console being heavily supported with Data East games, and we look forward to seeing many more.