A great old arcade game originally made by Data East. Became popular not only in the arcades, but on the Intellivision, Colecovision, and Atari systems. Even got translated to the NES back in the day.

The player assumes the role of a chef who must create gigantic hamburgers with lettuce and tomato. To do so he runs over the burger/lettuce/tomato. The piece then falls a level and knocks down the lower pieces. If any enemies are on that piece, they fall to their death and bring down the piece with them (to the bottom of the screen, which is the objective). If any enemies are below, they are squished and respawn after a few seconds. The enemies are eggs, hot dogs, and pickle slices. The eggs and hot dogs can only walk on the ladders and platforms that you may walk on. The pickle slices can float around to chase you. The player is armed with a pepper shaker and may use it to temporarily paralyze his foes. He starts off with 3 lives and 2 peppers.
I highly reccomend the Intellivision version myself as it has the best balance of graphics and gameplay.

BurgerTime was an old arcade game released by Data East way back in 1982. It was also licensed to Midway, who produced far more copies of this game than Data East ever did.

The story

BurgerTime was originally made for the Deco Cassette System, an early arcade format than pulled the game data from audio cassettes. The cassette system enjoyed a brief bit of popularity, until it was discovered that the cassettes quickly wore out, rendering the game useless. Midway licensed this title soon after its original release, and redesigned the hardware to drop the cassette altogether. This version of the game sold vast quantities when compared to the original. There was also a bootleg version of this game that bore the title "Cook Race".

BurgerTime quickly became a classic, and was ported to the ColecoVision, Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, and the Intellivision. There were even two sequels in the arcade which were Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory and Super BurgerTime. A rom dump even exists for a vector version of BurgerTime (supported by Misfit MAME), but this is a modern hack, and the hardware to play it on a real machine does not exist. Update: Upon further examination of the Vector BurgerTime roms I have determined that they will run on the original BurgerTime hardware, but the graphics are not true vector graphics, but are a raster imitation of them.

The game

You are cast in the role of "Peter Pepper" (a burger chef), and begin the game on a vertical array of platforms and ladders. Various hamburger parts sit at different levels, and several baddies will begin walking around almost immediately. Your first instinct will probably be to hit your fire button to see what it does. Don't follow that instinct. Your fire button launches your pepper attack, and you only get a few of these, and you need to save them for when you need them most (a good percentage of the levels can be completed without using the pepper at all).

Your need to walk over each hamburger part, which causes it to fall down to a lower level, while walking over a piece on the bottom makes it fall into a hamburger "box" at the bottom. You need to get all the parts into the boxes at the bottom of the screen. On most levels you will want to head straight for the top, because dropping a hamburger part onto another hamburger part cause that one to fall as well (which may make the next one fall, and so on).

The best way to kill the baddies (who will always come back shortly anyway), is to drop a hamburger part onto them. You can also lure one of them near you, and then walk across a hamburger part, leaving them on it when it drops. This will cause the piece to fall several positions (instead of just one), and is a quick way to get through most of the levels.

In an emergency you can use your pepper attack to temporarily stun an opponent so you can escape. There is also an advanced technique that uses multiple pepper shots to group all the enemies together (once together they will move as one unit). You can then drop them all from each hamburger part for a huge amount of points. The world record score was set doing this trick, and the player actually quit the game with over 100 lives left (and still had the record score).

From time to time a bonus item will appear in the middle of the screen, you should always get this if you can make it safely, as it gives you an extra shot of pepper, which you might need later.

You can easily become a master at this game simply by developing patterns to your movement (they will work everytime as long as you don't change them). Some people have posted a few patterns on the web, but this text only format is not suitable for reproducing them.

The Machine

There were two different BurgerTime cabinets, the original Deco Cassette System cabinet (which is nondescript, and has only generic artwork, this cabinet can be read about in the Deco Cassette System node), the Midway cabinet however is fully decorated, and is the one I will be describing here.

The BurgerTime upright was one one of the best looking cabinets ever made. It is sort of mustard colored, and has huge painted sideart of Chef Peter Pepper (the top of the machine even conforms to the shape of his hat, which makes it easy to spot old converted BurgerTime cabinets).

The marquee shows an image of Chef Peter Pepper carrying a hamburger toward an evil looking hot dog. While the control panel overlay shows the same two characters in different positions. The monitor bezel once again features the same two characters, and also has detailed game instructions silk screened onto it.

Where to play

BurgerTime has been ported to many old console systems, including the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and ColecoVision. These cartridges are still quite common, and easy to obtain on eBay, or even in your local junk shop.

This is one of the few expensive "classic" titles I have ever considered adding to my arcade game collection (who knows, you may want it too). It has a very attractive cabinet, and can be played over and over again without getting old. This title seems to be valued at about $500 (USD), for a decent working copy (that price has held steady for a while now, and is current as of Febuary, 2002), with mint examples going for a bit more (always buy the best one you can afford, it is cheaper in the long run).

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