Platform: Xbox Live Arcade
Developer: Monkey Paw Games
There's something tremendously satisfying about constructing a burger. Maybe it's the way the ground beef patty seductively sizzles on the bun, cheese caressing it in a soft lactose embrace. Getting the right balance between crisp lettuce, succulent tomato and tangy onion to give it that perfect crunch and colour. Slowly, gently, layering a fried egg on top that will explode in gooey taste sensation. And then cradling the finished masterpiece in your hands, contemplating its oozing, gorgeous majesty before scoffing it with a Tizer. Yes, it's enough to make you run down to your local Iceland right now, but is it enough to build a game around?
Well, it used to be. BurgerTime World Tour is a "re-envisioning" and "maturation" (so I'm told) of an ancient arcade game that involves scurrying around platform stages, evading a selection of anthropomorphic deli ingredients and eventually assembling some delicious burgers by running over them; causing each layer to fall to the level below. It was the sort of imaginative, ridiculous tosh that brought gamers to the arcades in droves - and to their credit, Monkey Paw Games have added a few new ingredients to the sandwich.
The core gameplay is very much intact. You'll climb ladders, jump over treacherous platforms (an exciting and controversial new feature, wow) and run away from a frenzied cast of evil fried eggs and pickles - or blind them with a limited supply of pepper if you're out of options. 2.5D graphics and rotating levels add a new sense of depth, and some collectible powerups can be picked up for extra jump height or other useful bonuses. The objective is also the same, meaning that you'll need to put your weight on each burger ingredient to drop it down onto its fellows; dodging a furious assault all the way. A massive number of levels provide meaty value for 800 Microsoft Points.
As mentioned above, assembling the burgers is immensely satisfying. It allows us to interact with the levels in a fundamental way rather than just using them as platforms, and the wobbly, succulent modelling is impressively mouthwatering. As enemies bear down on your position, you'll frequently make a mad dash for that one last bun that hasn't quite fallen; stomp on the last corner in the nick of time and beat the level with adrenaline coursing through your veins.
Sadly, though, BurgerTime World Tour completely fails to nail down some of the most basic features that modern platformers should offer. Enemy spawning is a ridiculously loose affair, since they'll often spawn right on top of you without warning and instantly take you out... or steadfastly stand at the top of a ladder and completely block you from reaching the next level. Speaking of levels, there's also little in the way of variety and pacing, which soon turns the experience into a tedious chore after a few solid minutes of play. Be aware that you'll need to approach it in short bursts of play to stop yourself from filling up too quickly.
BurgerTime World Tour uses Xbox Live Avatars, either a stock chef character or your own online persona. It's a neat idea in theory, but in practice (as evidenced by plenty of Xbox Live Indie games) avatars simply don't lend themselves to precision, subtlety and nuance. The controls are outrageously floaty and imprecise - not ideal for a technical platformer - and hit detection is worryingly vague. Avatars also aren't known for being graphically impressive framework for a game, and there's no denying that the visuals are more than a little coarse in terms of texture work and animations. Thankfully a vibrant colour palette helps to offset this somewhat.
Interestingly, BurgerTime World Tour also features local and online competitive multiplayer. I almost wrote it off as a pointless and cynical addition, but after some extensive testing, I actually found myself thoroughly enjoying the experience. Up to four players can scramble around some large arenas and fight over making burgers before their rivals, which blends the hectic singleplayer gameplay with all its traps and enemies with a hilarious degree of sabotage. Stunning your mates just before they manage to create a burger - to be killed by an enemy as you steal his points - is a sadistic pleasure, and I wish that this mode had received more maps and gameplay modes. It's shallow and casual to the extreme, but fun as all hell.
- Lots of fun in small doses
- Loads of content
- Surprisingly impressive competitive multiplayer
- Awful enemy spawning, weak hit detection, floaty controls
- Coarse visuals
- Quickly becomes tedious
The Short Version: BurgerTime World Tour is a fun, shallow and simple proposition that provides plenty of raw value. Unfortunately, without more variety and mechanical prowess, it's little more than a diversion to dip into from time to time. A microwavable Rustlers, if you will, rather than a home-made quarter pounder.