by Rob "Flack" O'Hara
Peter Pepper, no relation to Peter Piper (of pickled
pepper picking fame), has a problem with his food -- it's constantly
trying to kill him. While Burgertime and its two sequels (Peter Pepper's
Ice Cream Factory and Super Burgertime) share a common theme (the
assembly of food while fending off fiendish foods), each of them are
quite unique in their gameplay.
Data East (1982)
all started with the 1982 classic videogame Burgertime, created by
Data East and licensed to Bally Midway. Assembling giant hamburgers
shouldn't be that difficult for a chef of Peter Pepper's calibur,
but unfortunately he has three enemies out to stop him from doing
just that: Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg. Peter Pepper's only
defense are his five pepper attacks; not pepper spray mind you, but
simple sprinkles from a spice shaker. Chef's only other ally are the
giant hamburgers he's creating. As you walk across the buns,
lettuce, tomatoes and meat patties, they'll drop down a level. If
you drop one with an enemy standing on it, they'll fall with it.
Trap one underneath and they'll be squished as well. Unfortunately,
none of these disposal methods are permanent -- as quickly as you
dispose of these edible enemies, more will enter the screen to
replace them. The goal of Burgertime is to assemble all four
on-screen hamburgers. Doing so will advance you to the next level.
Those of you with 8-way controllers will quickly discover that the
entire Burgertime series was designed with a 4-way joystick in mind.
Like all the ladder games of that day, you'll find that diagonal
directions on modern controllers tend to get Peter Pepper stuck when
trying to get on to or off of a ladder. While not unique to
Burgertime, in a game where getting on to and off of ladders quickly
is the key to survival, it becomes quickly noticable.
According to experts, the key to racking up a huge score is
disposing of all your enemies at once, just like Pac-Man. By using
pepper or simply running around in circles, you can get all the
pickles, hot dogs and eggs close enough behind you to drop them all
at the same time. Of course you'll have to do that more than a
couple of times to beat Twin Galaxies' official high score of
8,601,300 by Bryan Wagner.
Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory
Nihon Bussan/AV Japan (1984)
the less-than-popular sequel Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory, our
friendly chef is back at it again. Presumably having been fired from
the giant hamburger assembly factory, our chef has now found work
constructing ice cream cones -- and while they're still over ten
feet tall, they're no where near the scale of the hamburgers Peter
was accustomed to assembling. Once again, the fifth food group
(foods that wish you bolidy harm) have tracked Peter to his new job.
This time around, donuts, walking strawberries, a jug of milk and
even a cooking scale are after the chef! Peter left his pepper
shaker behind at the last job, but this time around he's learned how
to jump so I suppose that's a fair trade.
Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory is an interesting game. While
playing it, you can see how the platform/ladder game genre was
evolving at that time. Essentially, this game plays much like the
Snow Brothers -- the scoops of ice cream can be knocked into
opponents, bowling them over as they roll toward the giant cones.
Like Donkey Kong, expect to die frequently by jumping and hitting
your head on an enemy located on the platform directly above you.
One cannot discuss Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory without
mentioned DECO, Data East's cassette system. DECO was designed to be
the Neo Geo MVS system of its time. Instead of replacing machines,
arcade owners could simply by the latest games on cassette and load
them up into their Data East DECO cabinets. Unfortunately, the
system never really caught on. In the long run, the tapes proved to
be unreliable, and with the dropping cost of PCBs, the DECO system
never caught on. Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory was only offered
as a DECO cassette, which means there were no dedicated cabinets for
it, and the only chance you ever had of playing one in a real arcade
was if an arcade owner upgraded his old Burgertime cabinet to the
Ice Cream Factory game. Needless to say, I've never seen this game
in an actual arcade machine. MAME reproduces this game perfectly,
down to the cassette loading delay. To bypass this in MAME, press
F10 to speed the game up to maximum speed. Once the game has loaded,
press F10 again to return the game to its normal speed.
Nihon Bussan/AV Japan (1990)
Pepper made his final arcade starring role in 1990's Super
Burgertime. At first glance, Super Burgertime seems to be simply a
graphical update of the original. There are still ladders,
hamburgers, homicidal eggs and of course Peter Pepper the chef, but
once you begin playing Super Burgertime you'll discover an entirely
new realm of gameplay. The chef has maintained his ability to jump
from the Ice Cream Factory, a skill you'll need to build the
hamburgers. No longer do they simply drop by walking over them --
you'll have to hop on each ingredient to knock them down. In Super
Burgertime, the chef has expanded his arsenal of weapons. He still
has access to his pepper shaker, but different weapons such as
frying pans appear for the taking throughout the game. Master chefs
who can make their way through the first four levels will be met by
a boss, a new concept to the Burgertime series.
Opinions of Super Burgertime are either hot or cold. It tends to be
liked by those who are new to the series, and disliked by fans of
the original. Super Burgertime isn't a classic, and without its ties
to the Burgertime franchise it would most likely have been long
forgotten. That being said, it's still a decent platformer, and it s
fun to play if only to see the evolution of platformers over the
years (especially in the graphics and sound departments).
Since Super Burgertime was only released in Japan and Peter Pepper's
Ice Cream Factory was only released on the not-too-common DECO
system, chances are you'll never run across either of these two
games in the wild. Fortunately through MAME, you can now experience
the only trilogy of games dedicated to both assembling and running
away from food at the same time.