BurgerTime: World Tour Review (XBLA)

Messing with a classic game’s formula is a risky move.  On the one hand, you could go and make it better.  Jeff Minter, for instance, took the Atari arcade hit Tempest and made it insane with the viscerally supercharged Tempest 2000.  On the other hand, Konami went and turned Frogger into a bland platforming adventure on several occasions, rather than staying with the “cross the street and survive” goals.

Now MonkeyPaw Games is taking a shot at a classic franchise, reviving an old Data East favorite for the Xbox Live Marketplace.  BurgerTime: World Tour takes the old-school “build giant burgers while avoiding angry food” route, while introducing some new 3D maps, some minor gameplay additions, and most importantly, a multiplayer factor.  While we wouldn’t call it the ultimate revival, it succeeds more than it fails.

So, in the game, it’s your job to climb your way across girders and platforms, walking over huge food ingredients and building burgers on the ground.  While it’s never really explained who’s going to eat this food (or why you’re walking all over it), it stays true to what worked in the original game, with the miniature chef scampering around like crazy.  Being a new version, MonkeyPaw has added some character options, including being able to import your Xbox Live Avatar.  I admit it, it was quite amusing watching me stomp around on quarter pounders.

Now, while you’re building these burgers, you have to avoid the angry food, including hot dog wieners that, I assume, aren’t too thrilled with you making burgers and ignoring them.  Where the original game only offered a few pepper shakes to stun them, World Tour expands by giving you the option to jump over them or, once collected, stun them with a spatula.  I did like these additions, though adding the ability to jump does make it easier than the original.  Perhaps that was MonkeyPaw’s idea, though.  Some folks couldn’t even clear the first stage in that one.  Damn hot dogs.

That’s about all there is to it.  The game does feature random power-ups to pick up along the way, including an energy drink that provides temporary invincibility.  Aside from that, you’re facing the same food enemies (c’mon, no evil tacos?) and clearing out the usual set of levels.  Repetitiveness will set in for some, but fans of the original will enjoy it.

Speaking of which, why wasn’t the original BurgerTime included?  A lot of classic releases these days have the inspiration behind it included, like Elevator Action DeLuxe and, to an extent, Daytona USA.  With that game missing, some folks may wonder, “What was BurgerTime about again?”

Even with no sign of the original, World Tour maintains enough BurgerTime charm to suffice.  The 3D maps look real nice, varying in backgrounds (a city, outer space) with a twisting rotational perspective, so everything stays in view.  The menus could’ve used some spicing up, though.  The music will be quite familiar to fans of the original, even with it being spruced up.  The sound effects are okay – nothing overboard but acceptable.

BurgerTime: World Tour’s single-player campaign will take a couple of hours at best, but there’s long-term replayability in its multiplayer.  Here, you can compete with up to three other friends in versus burger building, using power-ups normally reserved for evil food on them.  It’s a pretty good idea that’s managed to evolve into a great one, thanks to suave execution and a pure sense of fun going up against your friends.  No, it won’t replace Modern Warfare, but it was never built to.

With its simplistic charm, somewhat innovative design, and new gameplay perks, BurgerTime: World Tour is a revival that works better than expected.  Sure, it’s got its problems – mainly the lack of the source product that inspired it – but it serves up enough enjoyment to merit the 800 Microsoft point price.  So, yeah, service with a smile.