Later this year, players everywhere will be able to relive a Data East arcade classic with the upcoming BurgerTime: World Tour, set for release on Xbox Live Arcade this season. What can we expect from this revamped classic? MonkeyPaw Games president John Greiner recently sat down with us to tell us what’s with all the burger madness.
GameZone: So why BurgerTime? This was a classic in the 80’s, but what made you guys think this was primed for a comeback?
John Greiner: When I was at Hudson Entertainment, BurgerTime was our best-selling game on mobile, beating out Hudson classics like Bonk, Bomberman, and Adventure Island. We could see the name had good market resonance. But we also knew the game would have greater potential if we allowed more creative expansion of the original concept. We thought adding an elongated playing field, platform elements and multiplayer were ways we could influence the play without altering the basic mechanic that makes the game an eternal classic.
GZ: What parts of the gameplay are still intact? Are you still walking over burgers to make them?
Greiner: We didn’t mess with mechanics. You still have the same burger-building, condiment-escaping tension that purists enjoy. There is a fine line in re-creating a classic. You need to bring new elements and contemporary levels of gameplay without over-morphing the game and antagonizing the base users. We’ve seen some classic remakes that simply put new graphics on old play, and then some that are retro in name alone. There are two ends of an extreme but the middle balance was our aim. We wanted to keep the same fun mechanic but add new twists by adding complimentary elements that maintain the game’s core play.
GZ: We see that you incorporated the game into a new 3-D engine. How difficult was this to put together, transitioning out of the old-school 2-D look?
Greiner: Bringing the game into 3D was necessary to expand the playing field. We took the burger-making mechanic and wrapped it around a cylinder to create a rotary environment. The player is now gaming on the circumference of the cylinder. The rotational field allows for a 3D look while giving more burger-making space and additional strategy to see through the cylinder. You have a bigger field and the characters remain large. You can see the other players and enemies as they run their routes on the other side of the cylinder. Some classic games don’t allow for that jump between 2D and 3D. Think Bomberman. But BurgerTime is less linear and more mechanical. So it doesn’t lose the hook of escaping or peppering while dropping burgers.
GZ: We understand there will be some sort of multiplayer in the game. Care to elaborate a little further? What about leaderboard support?
Greiner: BurgerTime World Tour will be four-player local and online. I’ve always been a firm believer in multiplayer. Sales statistics will tell you it is not a revenue driver for most games. So why bother when its difficult to build and not financially necessary? Well, we’re building games for our users and we know that playing with your buddies on the couch or even with strangers online makes for a much more enjoyable game that adds longevity. Humans should be interacting, not just zoning out on the screen all the time. And of course, we’ll have leaderboard support, trophies, avatars, and chat. We’ll also feature online tournaments once the game releases as well as DLC.
GZ: What new gameplay functions can we look forward to? Hopefully we’ll have more pepper to fend off enemies.
Greiner: BurgerTime has always been a mix of puzzler and platformer. But this version will have new platforming elements that create a deeper gameplay experience. Now you’ll have traps, swinging bridges, searing spikes and even a rocket ship to ride. New weapons and new enemies, including gargantuan boss characters at the end of each world will pickle your Peter Pepper. Remember, this is a world tour so you’ll be encountering Japanese, Mexican, French and even New York baddies as you work your culinary magic against foreign foods.
GZ: Any chance that the original BurgerTime game itself will be included? Or possibly introduced as DLC?
The original Burgertime in all its glory
Greiner: We purposely didn’t include the original game as we don’t want to go back in time, but rather give the game a new bar on which to be judged. Yes, it is BurgerTime but it is like no other BurgerTime you’ve ever played. We will have several DLCs after the game releases and these will add more elements, characters and levels, but not the original game at this time.
GZ: Have any of the original BurgerTime developers stepped forward with advice on the project? Did you talk with anyone from that team at all?
Greiner: Great question. We always want to have the original game designers to give us advice on how they would visualize the game in today’s technology. Unfortunately, Data East is long gone and we have had no contact with the original director. Remember the game first appeared 29 years ago! But our licensor G-mode has been a phenomenal partner to work with. Needless to say, they have been pleased with what we have done to revive the franchise.
GZ: When can we expect BurgerTime World Tour to come out?
Greiner: We will release the game on all major console platforms this summer. No exact date but expect a July release frame. Users can keep informed by visiting our website. Or LIKE us on Facebook at our Facebook Page and FOLLOW us on Twitter at @monkeypawgames. We’ll be giving away copies of the game sporadically on those communities up to launch.
GZ: Any idea what other classics the team would like to work on next? Maybe a comeback for The Bad Dudes or another Data East property?
Greiner: We do love Data East properties and we have some ideas brewing already. I’m sure a Bad Dudes revival would strike a strong chord among retro minds. If the fans want it badly enough, then there’s always possibilities. The trick is executing on a formula that gives the title enough new elements while keeping the game’s mechanical hook. Balancing that fine line of creating compelling gameplay and bringing a contemporary feel while maintaining the classic magic is key. We’re confident that BurgerTime will prove our theory that there is plenty of mileage left in classic games.
GZ: Finally, where do you guys go to get some great burgers?
Greiner:Hmmm, well since I’m in Japan, I’ve come across some funky burgers. There’s a chain called Mos Burger that serves a weird burdock root concoction as well as burger with rice cracker buns. But my favorite here is probably a wacky raw egg, special sauce burger at a local joint. Sounds gross but it is damn good. Maybe that’s why Mr Egg is such an iconic character in the game. The Japanese sure know how to make good food and fun games even if it’s a little wacky! For the USA side of things, our marketing and PR manager Ray Almeda is a huge fan of Val’s Burgers in Hayward, California. He swears it being the best burger in the world for its simplicity and shockingly full flavor. So whether it’s in Asia or the Bay Area, everyone has different tastes. With BurgerTime World Tour on the horizon, we’re happy to satisfy taste buds of all gamers. It’s ironic that we’re releasing the game in the summer too, when BBQs become the norm.
Look for more on BurgerTime World Tour soon!