When the coin-op release of BurgerTime hit arcades in 1982, it was praised for its quirky theme and wildly unique gameplay design. Given the game's popularity at the time, it garnered a port on just about every home game system and personal computer of the period. The NES release came a bit later, but it was a fairly accurate interpretation of the arcade original and featured solid visuals and responsive play controls. But does this rather dated arcade port still hold up and is it a game you're going to want to add to your Wii Virtual Console library?
BurgerTime is a simple game that tasks you with building hamburgers by walking across different sections of the burger and dropping them down to the platform below. Of course, it's not quite as straightforward as that - you're also going to have to duck and dodge a host of hostile meats and condiments constantly chasing after you. The ultimate goal is simply to get all of the sections of the hamburgers on top of each other at the bottom of the screen, squashing any enemies you can catch underneath the falling sections as you go. It's this careful blend of building hamburgers and trying to squash multiple enemies that leads to higher scores for those who put in the time to understand the mechanics of the game.
To aid you in your navigation of the levels is your secret weapon, the pepper shaker. You're given a limited number of pepper shakes with which to temporarily stun the enemies that are coming your way. This can be quite important in later levels when the enemies are plentiful, not to mention fast-moving.
Since the controls stick mostly to the basics - walk, climb, and pepper attack - there's not a lot of room for error, so the play controls stick very closely to the arcade original. You'll find yourself getting stuck in-between platforms occasionally due to the ladder locations, but this is a common problem with the original and one that you'll just have to overcome with time and practice. Overall this port does a solid job of bringing the arcade experience to the home console and doesn't deviate much from what the original offered up.
While not quite as visually flashy as the arcade version, BurgerTime on the NES does an effective job of recreating the levels of the game - much better than many of the earlier console and personal computer releases, in fact. The levels themselves remain basic, but at least the NES provides you the ability to actually recognize the various hamburger sections and condiments - something not so prevalent on earlier ports of the game.
Anyone who's played BurgerTime will instantly recognize the tunes. While not quite perfectly carried over from the arcade release, they're still more than ample to bring back the nostalgic feeling long time fans will remember. Sound effects are fairly standard and, much like the musical score, adhere pretty closely to the arcade counterpart - something purists will surely appreciate.
Burgertime is still every bit as fun as it was three decades ago and proves that a great gameplay design can hold up no matter how old it is. It's obviously not going to appeal to just anyone, but players that are old enough to remember the original will likely find a smile on their face as they relive one of the true classics of the arcade glory years. Sure, the game is a bit lacking in the depth department, but games in the early 80's were more about quality than quantity. Who knows, maybe even modern gamers will come to appreciate the simple yet wildly addictive playing style of this hamburger-building classic.