Not as delicious as it sounds.
PLAYERS: 1-2 alternating
PUBLISHER: Data East
DEVELOPER: SAS Sakata
RELEASE DATE: May 1987
I’m pretty sure that “Ratatouille” was loosely based upon BurgerTime, and I believe I can prove it through a series of analogies. “In Ratatouille,” a mouse gets stranded in Paris and sneaks his way to the apartment of a budding young chef. All the mouse wants to do is cook and be a part of the food scene. Coincidence? FATE? I THINK YES!!! The mouse essentially teaches the young chef how to cook awesome, pretentious food, win over the toughest food critic in Paris, and yes, get the girl. It was one of the highest rated movies of 2006, but I really didn’t see what all the fuss was about. It was cute and clever at moments, but it tried to push for realism in a way that didn’t suit the premise of the movie.
In BurgerTime, you don’t have a rat to help your own endeavors, but that’s ok because you’re constructing burgers as large as some states, not disgusting French food. You play a young, budding chef whose only goal in life is to make burgers. A strange goal, perhaps, but not that surprising, given the bulbous gut that the chef possesses. Pieces of the burger – bun, meat, lettuce, condiments, etc. – are trapped on various levels of the stage, which you access via ladder. To make matters worse, you have to run across the pieces completely to make them fall to the next level. At the bottom of the stage, your burger awaits. The only thing that stands in your way of making the world’s largest, most mouth-watering burgers is other food stuffs: running hot dogs, little egg-halfs, and other miscellaneous nonsense (MUCH LIKE IN “RATATOUILLE” WHEN THE CHEF WAS ACTUALLY BATTLING FOOD WITH A SWORD [that may not have happened, but it would have livened up the movie a little bit]). In BurgerTime, your only defense mechanism against the evil food is some salt (I wasn’t aware hot-dogs were composed of slug-like properties), but you only get five dashes throughout the whole game. Bonus items appear here and there and they give you extra salt, but it still seems like a limited amount. Hey, I don’t have high blood pressure. I want some salt, dangit!
For a game that inspired a Pixar movie, I had a difficult, non-crowd-pleasing time with it. The enemies are belligerent and numerous. Your best bet in getting through each level is to get to the top of the stage, run across the top half of the bun, and pray that the pieces that fall will hit some of the enemies. This is the only way to get rid of them completely, and really, the only strategy one can offer in this port. Despite the difficulty, the game is strangely addicting as only arcade games from the early 80s can be: a ridiculous concept coupled with high difficulty makes for good replay value.
Ok, so my “Ratatouille”/BurgerTime comparisons fell a little flat. Nevertheless, I feel like BurgerTime should be the next video game adapted into a Hollywood motion picture. One could flesh out the story by having the chef be seduced by one of the hot dogs, then trapped in one of his own large pieces of lettuce, before ending with a thirty-minute action sequence where he rides a large hamburger bun down a steep mountain slathered with ketchup and mustard, salting his foes this way and that. The salt has explosive properties, of course, and his foes will disintegrate into meaty chunks of nothingness. It will be rated PG-13 to appeal to the teenyboppers and add to its box office gross.