BurgerTime! (and that’s the last time I’m going to put the “!” on the name, even though it is technically part of the game title) is one of the few big hits on Intellivision. Or I should say one of the few big hits that Mattel got to program for Intellivision (Parker Brothers and Coleco ported other big arcade hits to the Intellivision with varying degrees of success). Thankfully, they did this one right. It is a really fun game to play.
I had this game back in 198-whatever. I remember playing it and thinking it was a fun game, but I never really got into it as a game. I never thought the arcade version was as thrilling as other arcade games. So it seemed like less of a thrill to me to get such a good port of BurgerTime at home. I mean it was good as far as BurgerTime is good.
Playing this again as an adult, I can appreciate the game better, I think. This is a very fun game. The gameplay is decently unique, with Donkey Kong influences (in terms of walking up and down ladders and on platforms — mostly like the Ziggurat stage), and hints of Miner 2049’er that would come to computer gaming later.
Game play offers enough richness to allow different strategies. You can aim to clear boards as fast as possible, or you can attempt to trap the bad guys on the burger parts in order to score higher. And there is also the tempting offer of more pepper when you grab the extra prize that appears from time to time. Peppers turn out to be very important in this game, as you only get 4 to start with and the only way to replenish them is by grabbing the extra prize. Some boards are practically impossible to clear without using one or several pepper shots. You’ll want to pick up as many as you can on the lower levels while it’s easier.
I really wanted to give this game an arcadeability rating of 5. But the game suffers from the Intellivision’s controller even on an arcade cab. Many times when going up or down a ladder I would miss a turn onto a horizontal level because I didn’t time the turn exactly right. So pushing right actually sent the chef upwards. It needs to be more forgiving in turning, or it needs to stop the chef when pushing in a direction that he can’t go. Because of this control issue, I’m giving it the score of 4.
Here’s a set of screenshots from the game. I’m attempting to show every level that I can make it to. As I keep playing this game, I’ll keep updating this page with more screenshots until they start repeating or I somehow find an end.
This first level is pretty straight-forward, as you would expect from level 1. But the top central platform is a place where it’s easy to get trapped and have to use a pepper.
I don’t remember this board being particularly difficult.
The long horizontal section about 3/4 down the screen on this board can be problematic.
This board is kinda nasty. If you get tricked into going to the top of the screen at the very beginning (a technique that works on almost all other boards) you’ll end up wasting at least two peppers dealing with the hotdogs that enter from the right side. I was able to clear this board without resorting to a pepper shot, but I had to head for the middle of the burgers first — something that just feels like a bad strategy.
I like seeing the tomato slices too.
Level 5 is the first board with the pickles. I don’t think their movement AI is very different from the hotdogs. They don’t appear to come after the chef with any different kinds of movement. The egg always seems to take a different tack than the hotdogs, however.
This level was tricky in spots, but the sheer abundance of ladders makes it not all that difficult to clear. Once you’ve gotten the hang of faking out the enemy foods, you can usually find an escape to most situations on this board.
The tomato slices make a return.
This is the “you’re never going to clear this level without using up some pepper shots” level. The burger pieces on the leftmost and rightmost ends of the screen are setup such that you have to run out to the end of the platform and back. When an enemy follows you onto the platform, you’re trapped and must use a pepper shot.
Since those outer burger pieces are so dangerous, you really want to clear them as much top to bottom as possible, and if you can get just one enemy to follow you out onto the piece, that’s even better. You want to minimize the amount of running out on those death levels as possible.
I was really trying hard to finish this board using only 2 or 3 shots of pepper. I’ve given up on that goal. The really observant will notice in the next screen shots that I ended up using 5 peppers and one life to clear the board. I think that’s the best I’ll do. I also think I’ve put more time into this board than I care to…
And…. we hit a repeat board! This is a repeat of board 1. So I’m thinking that’s about it. Burgertime has seven levels. But that’s really quite a lot for a home adaptation.
The controls mapping for this game is very simple. Just the normal 4-way cursor mapping to N, S, E, and W on the INTV controller and an arcade button mapped to one of the side action buttons. The arcade.kbd configuration is fine for this game.
How does it compare to the original arcade game?
I think this compares very favorably to the arcade game. All the elements of gameplay are there, and the graphics and sound are fantastic. It feels like it could have been an arcade game. Well… a low resolution arcade game, anyway.
It’s a bit easier than the arcade version, owing to the fact that the screen’s resolution makes the boards a lot smaller.
One of the best arcade ports available for Intellivision.