Review: BurgerTime (Atari 2600)

By Drew Wilson

In this review, we check out a title that might put a smile on many old school gamers – BurgerTime. In this instance, we check out the Atari 2600 port of this puzzle game to see if it’s worth playing again.

There are many versions and ports of this game. While it may not be a well known title by today’s standards, it was a well known title back in the 80’s and 90’s. This game was released in 1983.

The premise is kind of straight forward. You are a chef tasked with creating overly large hamburgers with a paddy and a layer of lettuce. The difficulty is the fact that four enemies – a pickle, a hot dog weener, an egg, and a tomato – are all out to stop you. Coming into contact reduces your total free lives.

The layers of hamburgers are spread throughout the level. Ideally, you start from the top and knock them down different levels as you go along. You have to push them off the shelves in section of four before they finally fall off the shelf. Ultimately, you need to make four hamburgers on the oversized plates at the bottom of the screen in order to advance to an increasingly more complex level. You have five lives that have to tide you over for as long as possible before you ultimately end up being boxed into a corner by two or three of those enemies and eaten alive by the anthropomorphic food.

There’s certain strategies one can employ. You can fake going up or down a ladder, tricking an enemy into attempting to cut you off on your fake rout as you backtrack to a now cleared path. Still, survival isn’t always possible in a given level. It’s all about practice in order to get to later levels. I’m not sure how many levels there are, but I did make it to level three.

Occasionally, prizes appear in the middle of the maze of shelves and ladders. Collecting the item will award you points. Unfortunately, given the added risk of collecting the award after completing a burger or two, I often find that it’s only worth it if you happen to be passing by at the time.

Graphically, for a game made back then, I thought this game was rather average. Some of the enemies don’t really look like what they are supposed to be. The weener is the only enemy that resembles what it’s supposed to be. The chef and the finished burgers were decently done too. Unfortunately, other enemies are merely flashing squares and wandering lines, forcing me to look up what they were supposed to be in the first place.

There’s only one in-game tune. Everything else, like an introduction screen, death, or winning are simply jingles. Considering the other games made available at the time that we are aware of at this time, I’d say this was a passable effort in the music environment. The sound effects were decently done considering how limited it must have been to work with the hardware in question.

Overall, this version was about an average game. It wasn’t horrible, but nothing really stood out that made this game particularly memorable beyond the premise as far as I’m concerned. It might be worth it to play if you want to take an in-depth look at the history of gaming, but in terms of playability in general, this is merely one of those games that you play through once and toss aside.


Furthest point in game: Made it to level 3 and completed one and a half burgers.

General gameplay: 13/25
Replay value: 5/10
Graphics: 5/10
Audio: 3/5

Overall rating: 52%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85

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