RGM Goes Retro – BurgerTime

My first gaming console was the NES.  I started playing it when I was four years old.  It was technically my sister’s console but I used it much more than she did.  I want to take an opportunity to discuss some of the games that I grew up with.  Games that I have fond memories of and contributed to my childhood.  For this week’s RGM Goes Retro, I’d like to discuss with you one of my all-time favorite games, BurgerTime.

BurgerTime originally started out as an arcade title in 1982 and was created by the now defunct, Data East Corporation. In the game you play as a chef named Peter Pepper.  Your objective is to navigate the maze-like structure in order to build burgers one layer at a time.  The player is constantly being chased by walking hot dogs, pickles, and an egg.  They act similar to the ghosts in Pac-Man, however, unlike Pac-Man, Chef Peter has a pepper shaker that can be used a few times to stun the enemies.  Enemies effected by the pepper can also be set up to be squashed or carried along with a burger topping for extra points.  The burgers are created by running over the ingredient one layer at a time in the maze.  When you run over the ingredient it will fall to the next floor of the level.  The game contains 6 different mazes of increasing difficulty that repeat infinitely in a cycle until the player loses.  It’s a simple concept as most games were back in the early 80s.

I was not around to play this in the original arcade format. My experience with BurgerTime comes from the NES port.  Other than Mario Bros/Duck Hunt combo that came with the NES, my parents bought us three other games to start with.  They were Q-Bert, Paperboy, and BurgerTime.  I enjoyed all of these games but BurgerTime stood out to me and was the one I always went back to play so that I could beat my previous score.  The gameplay is simple and addictive.  For anyone that knows me, I am also a bit of a foodie, so a game about making burgers is right up my alley even as a child.  What drew me to this game were the characters.  I found the idea of a Chef being chased by hot dogs, pickles, and eggs to be rather humorous albeit ironic.  The characters reminded me of cartoon characters and I was immediately drawn into the game by the cover art alone.

The first level of the classic arcade game "BurgerTime".
The first level of the classic arcade game “BurgerTime”.

The game is very fun to play but that is also not the main reason I have such fond memories of BurgerTime. This was one of the few games my Mom would play with me as a child.  Even though they are a bit fuzzy, I still have memories of playing this game and taking turns with my Mom to see who could get the furthest.  These memories are one of my most cherished experiences as a gamer.  About a year ago, I was in New York City at a bar called “Barcade”.  This is my favorite bar because it serves craft beer and has a collection of vintage arcade games to play.  All the games are $0.25 to play, just like the old days.  While I was at Barcade I was looking around to see if they got any new arcade cabinets since the last time I was there.  Much to my surprise, off in the corner I saw the original arcade cabinet for BurgerTime.  I immediately took my beer and started playing.  I played the game for about an hour straight, filled with nostalgia.  I finally got to experience the arcade version of BurgerTime after 26 years since the first time I played it on my NES.  It’s moments like these that make me take a step back and think how the little things in life are the most important to me.

If you ever get a chance to go to Barcade in NYC, take a look and see who’s playing BurgerTime.  There’s a good chance it may be me.