From fun to frustration, Data East’s BURGERTIME emulator from My Arcade recreates the experience of the classic video game. 

Created in 1982, BURGERTIME is a fairly standard early-1980s video game where your object is to take chef Peter Pepper around some DONKEY KONG-like levels to create hamburgers. Standing in your way are anthropomorphic hot dogs, pickles and eggs. It’s kind of weird, but pretty standard fare for something out of Japan in the early days of the video game boom. 

BURGERTIME was a popular pastime in my house growing up. It provided a challenge – every game in the early 80s was a challenge, as developers figured out how everything was supposed to work – but had an interface that was easy to pick up. You move Chef Pepper around the board and through the burger bits to create your burger and occasionally hit the egg, hot dog or pickle with pepper to keep them at bay. 

Completing a level is actually harder than it sounds, especially when eggs and hot dogs are baring down on you and you are out of pepper. That’s scarier to me than anything you find in RESIDENT EVIL or SILENT HILL

The best part of BURGERTIME, to me, was that it was the only game my grandmother liked to play. I don’t know why, but she loved that game.  

Sure, no one is clamoring for a graphically-updated reboot of a game like BURGERTIME (even though there was a 3D update released in 2011 for the X-Box and in 2012 for the Wii), but if you want the fun and frustration that came with making burgers, it’s available through MY ARCADE’s micro player. It’s one of 10 retro arcade cabinets the company has available, providing a classic gaming experience in an itty-bitty cabinet. I just got one for my birthday this year, and it’s been fun reliving my misspent youth. 

The gameplay is pretty spot-on, right down to how often I died because I didn’t line Peter Pepper up with a platform perfectly. But even frequent deaths at the hands of a walking hot dog doesn’t stop the game from being ridiculously addictive. The only thing that has forced me to put the game down is how awkward it can be to actually play the game.

The mini-player is set up like an old arcade cabinet, but with the small scale, it doesn’t actually provide a good grip for people with bigger (or even medium-sized) hands. But all you really need are two fingers – one for the A/B buttons to shoot the pepper and one to move the joystick around. Thankfully, the stick is removable and becomes just a regular D-pad for ease of use.  

My biggest complaint – it requires 4 AA batteries – which weren’t included. Hopefully these batteries last longer than the ones I used to pop in my GAMEBOY

If you enjoy classic – really classic – video games with a kitschy presentation, this is a perfect option.The company has a bunch of other options, including BAD DUDES (another arcade favorite of mine), PAC-MAN and GALAGA in mini-cabinets. I may have to give those a shot, too.