Play By Play - BurgerTime Deluxe

By Brian • 25 September 2023

Nintendo Game Boy
Also available on Nintendo Switch Online; don't play hungry.

BurgerTime! The arcade classic! Data East’s crowning achievement—move over, Captain America and the Avengers! Even Bad Dudes Vs. Dragonninja, the very namesake of this website, cannot compare. Peter Pepper’s got burgers to make, and why should it go well?! Because President Ronnie enjoys them, and how can he go out for burgers with the Bad Dudes (the real Bad Dudes, not Craig and me) if Peter Pepper can’t make them?!

But! Epic burger-making need not be confined solely to the arcade. Did you know that, thanks to the modern technological wonder that is the Nintendo Game Boy, you can now play BurgerTime in the comfort of your own home, commute, or camping trip? On a portable console, no less?!

Surely, I must be joking? Nay, sir or madam. I am not. Enter: BurgerTime Deluxe, now available on your Nintendo Game Boy portable handheld gaming machine. OR, if you’re not living in 1991 like me, on Nintendo Switch Online’s growing library of Game Boy titles. I was already excited about Game Boy games being added to the service earlier this year, but when BurgerTime Deluxe debuted, I got so excited I probably knocked over a glass. As an arcade game, BurgerTime took a while to hook me. I used to think it was just too hard, but it has grown to become a favorite as I’ve gotten older. I never played this Game Boy version, so I had to check it out.

The first thing one must understand about BurgerTime is that it’s completely absurd. The goal, as Peter Pepper, is to assemble giant hamburgers from ingredients scattered around a screen of Donkey Kong-esque platforms and ladders, while at the same time avoiding anthropomorphic hot dog, egg, and pickle enemies. As Peter walks over the burger patties and buns and toppings, they fall to the level below. Once all the pieces have fallen to the bottom of the screen, and all burgers are built, the next level begins.

The opening level, with burgers awaiting assembly.

Should Peter Pepper find himself in a pinch, surrounded by enemies, he can use his trusty pepper shaker to orchestrate a sneezing-induced escape. He has a limited number of shakes, however, so just a dash of pepper, please! Peter can also crush enemies with falling burger pieces, or catch them on the pieces as they fall, causing the ingredients to fall multiple levels due to the extra weight.

My main question—nevermind the evil, living food in hot pursuit of Peter at all times—why are these burgers so large? The reality, of course, is to complement the larger-than-life arcade aesthetic. BurgerTime wouldn’t be much of a game if Peter assembled ordinary, palm-sized burgers, would it? The players wouldn’t even be able to tell what’s going on! So, the burgers are huge. Perhaps Peter is here to solve world hunger, or is prepping burgers for a competitive eating contest? And, have I mentioned Peter is walking on these ingredients with his dirty shoes?! How does that work? Is he kicking them off the side of the platform and down to the next? Completely unsanitary. Shame on you, Peter! I can’t stay grossed out, though—the game is too fun.

So, let’s talk about BurgerTime Deluxe, specifically. I already loved the arcade BurgerTime, so how does the Game Boy version compare in the ultimate taste test? Surprisingly well. Not only is the game a fresh new take on the arcade recipe, but it adds its own special sauce to dress up the experience.

To start, there’s a little bit of a story here. Nuten Doughnuts has just moved in next door to BurgerTime, and sends the evil hot dogs, eggs, and pickles to put the competition out of business! Diabolical! While it’s nice to have some context as to why these foods seek and destroy Peter, I’m personally happy to go for both a hamburger and a donut, so I don’t see an issue here, but it clearly doesn’t work for Nuten.

This seems mean-spirited and unnecessary.

Secondly, there is more variation in levels, some featuring even larger burgers, others with trick ladders that only appear after a number of burger pieces have dropped, and some that loop endlessly horizontally, which can add a level of strategy (or danger) to Peter’s movements. The extra level types add some variety and, combined with avoiding enemies, can create something of a puzzle-platforming feel to certain stages, which I came to really appreciate. Additional power-ups not found in the arcade game can also be collected, such as extra lives, french fries that temporarily clear the screen of enemies, and bars of spicy chocolate that render Peter temporarily invulnerable. (My wife can relate—spicy chocolate makes her invulnerable, as well!) The power-ups appear almost exclusively in dangerous, out-of-the-way places, however, so prepare to take a risk collecting any of them! They like to show up at the very end of the level, too (particularly 1-ups), when Peter is wrapping up the last burger. So tempting!

You like how that 1-up appeared just as I was about to finish the level? Uggghhh.

Unlike the nigh-infinite arcade iteration, there is an ending to BurgerTime Deluxe, upon completion of six worlds consisting of four levels each. This is a great format for a portable version of this game. In the infancy of the Game Boy, its games were typically built for bite-sized sessions, respectful of time-sensitive situations like rides in the car and short battery life. This, combined with a password feature, makes BurgerTime Deluxe a great option for brief bursts of play, perfect for subway trips to and from the office, or for parents of small children expecting to be called into duty (and possibly doody) at any moment.

As a result of these short play sessions, World 6 stymied me for quite a while. The difficulty spike made for a whopper of a challenge, and with just a few minutes at a time to devote to it, I found it difficult to get into a groove. A new and disturbing enemy type flattened me left and right, and some cunning level designs demanded quick reflexes and crafty footwork to escape the bad guys. I finally got so into it that I stayed up extra late one night and played until I beat it. The challenge was intense, but the satisfaction of seeing the end once and for all satisfied my hunger.

Burgers of impossible size!

Once BurgerTime Deluxe is finished, the high score chase is on, as players can try to finish the game again with fewer lives lost and more points scored. The game offers unlimited continues on a game over, but should the player continue, the score resets to zero, so there is incentive to get good and complete the game with as few lives lost as possible.

As a fan of the arcade original, I had a blast with BurgerTime Deluxe. When I sat down to play a video game after a long day of work, chores, and child-rearing, but didn’t have time to dive into something big like Skyrim, building some burgers and dodging hot dogs for 15 or 30 minutes proved to be a delicious alternative. I found the achievable ending, updated variety of levels and power-ups, unlimited continues, and ability to play in bite-sized sessions all made the game challenging, yet enticing enough to want to go back again and again and finally beat that level I was stuck on! It’s quintessential handheld gaming, especially of its own era, and certainly one of the better arcade reimaginings I’ve played on the Game Boy. Give this one a try on Switch Online. Don’t have a Switch? Have it your way—pick up a copy at fine 1991 video game retailers everywhere!

  • Was I a Bad Enough Dude to finish BurgerTime Deluxe?
  • Is BurgerTime Deluxe Bad Enough to play again?