Our Exclusive Interview with MonkeyPaw Games about BurgerTime HD
One of the game I remember most from my early childhood is BurgerTime. In fact, I remember first playing not in the arcade, but on one of the old-school handhelds. My relatives mentioned how they played it all the time, and it was not too long before I became just as attached as them. Even though the game’s premise and mechanics were simple, it was almost addicting.
Similar to titles like Donkey Kong and Mario Bros., BurgerTime was based on a one screen grid. The basic idea places you, as Peter Pepper, in a burger factory. You must create burgers while walking over the different parts (buns, meat, lettuce, cheese). All the while, you also must avoid the enemies, which include hot dogs, pickles, and eggs. After you complete a level, you begin again.
MonkeyPaw Games has taken the classic game of BurgerTime and created a modern remix that will soon hit the WiiWare service (along with XBLA and PSN). BurgerTime HD includes new enemies, boss battles, and multiplayer. All of this takes place in a new cylindrical playing field.
We recently had the privilege of interviewing John Greiner, the President of MonkeyPaw Games. He spoke with us about this upcoming title along with his history with BurgerTime, Hudson Games, and future plans for Nintendo systems. Below is a portion of our interview.
NintendoFuse: What made you want to work in the gaming industry instead of just playing them?
John Greiner: I went to school and graduated with a BA in general education. I chose to travel the world, but only made it to Asia. I met the president of HudsonSoft, and he hired me to work on the TurboGrafx. It had already been successfully launched in Japan, but the US side was a completely different cookie. That shoved me right in front of a lot of gaming companies. I just got lucky and ended up in the industry by chance.
JG: Basically, I was touching every single title that was coming out for the TurboGrafx16. The very first day I worked, I remember doing a voice recording for a game called Gundam. One of the next games was Ys Book 1 & 2. Any game that came out of Hudson that was bound for the US or Europe, I basically had somewhat of a hand in. Everything that had to be done on a foreign perspective kind of fell into my lap.
NF: Why did you choose to remake BurgerTime?
JG: BurgerTime, for us, was an obvious choice. It was our number one mobile title at Hudson. I was really shocked. It did better than Bonk and Bomberman by a magnitude. So, one of the first things I did, when we started MonkeyPaw was to go after that license, because I knew the game was pulling in that many users as it was. We already had the relationship, which made it easier to secure the license. The game started development at the beginning of 2010, and we are coming to fruition now.
JG: The game is simple, yet very addictive. The problem is that it is a 30-year old game. We think that keeping a game the way it is and just redoing the graphics is not enough. Users would like to see the old classics and play the hook again, but they do not want to see that in 1980 graphics or presentation. They want to see it in something that is about today’s hardware. The actual playing field of the game had one screen, so we decided to put it on a rotating cylinder in order to create a 3D image for the game. It allows you to see through the cylinder to see what is going on behind the cylinder. In multiplayer, this helps to see what other players are doing. You can also see the baddies coming around the corner. You can kind of get more of a three-dimensional view and also grasp of the game by inserting this new concept. We wanted to leave the mechanic and AI alone; we just expanded the playing field. The best thing that I think we have done is make it multiplayer. That makes it so much more fun to play in a competitive atmosphere.
NF: Could you elaborate on the multiplayer?
JG: We are limited on the Wii side. There is only local multiplayer on the Wii, but the other versions (PSN/XBLA) will have online. That is just the constraint of the hardware.
NF: Are there any other differences between the WiiWare version and the others?
JG: Yeah, less levels, basically. We couldn’t fit as much on. A few less boss characaters, which is a new feature. We tried to keep as much as we could, but everybody knows that is not really possible. You can only put so much. Compared to other examples, I feel like we have a lot on there.
NF: Are there any new features you are particularly excited about?
JG: I think this rotational axis gives this game a new life. It is no longer just a puzzle game. It really has this much bigger platform aspect. We need to satisfy the core, but we have to be aware that there are a number of people who have never even heard of BurgerTime. So, for those users, we want to make the game much more accessible. We included things like a rocket that you need to climb certain levels. We have added more baddies and boss characters too. It is about complexity today; you have to keep the attention span going for a much longer time.
JG: The DLC is not huge, because we did not design the game around it, which a lot of guys are doing these days. We are putting out the game, and of course we will have things like extra levels and some different characters, but it is not going to be a driver. It will be supplemental for people who want to delve deeper and play the game longer.
NF: Will DLC be available for all platforms, including WiiWare?
JG: There will be some for every platform, but they will be different. Levels and characters are things we can do accross all platforms.
We would like to thank Mr. Greiner for taking some time to speak with us about BurgerTime, his history in the gaming industry, and the future of MonkeyPaw Games. Be sure to check out the full interview in our downloadable podcast. BurgerTime HD will be released in Summer 2011, so please stay tuned to NintendoFuse for further development about BurgerTime HD.
Ray Almeda, of MonkeyPaw, also stated that “If any BurgerTime fans, MonkeyPaw Games fans, or hardcore gamers out there have suggestions on what retro titles they would like revisited, you can follow MonkeyPaw Games on Twitter (@MonkeyPawGames) or LIKE Facebook.com/monkeypawgames.”
(Below is the BurgerTime HD announcement trailer, with footage from the PSN version of the game.)