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By Spencer . May 4, 2011 . 1:30pm
MonkeyPaw games is taking their first foray into "retro evolution" with BurgerTime World Tour. Evolution is the keyword since BurgerTime World Tour takes the core of the Data East arcade game and spins it around with cylindrical levels. Frozen Codebase, the studio behind Screwjumper and the canceled Metalocalypse: The Dethgame, is creating the game for PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, and WiiWare.
Siliconera spoke with John Greiner, President of MonkeyPaw Games, and Ben Geisler, President of Frozen Codebase, to find out how they’re making BurgerTime for modern gamers.
We talked about this before, but why I don’t think the readers know! Why did MonkeyPaw games want to remake BurgerTime?
John Greiner, President of MonkeyPaw Games: BurgerTime is the classic arcade example of why we have retro. It’s the blues of gaming. The roots. We need to preserve our classics and we want to relive our past. But let’s not do it with 80’s tech. Creative application of new ideas will twist a lot of fun out of an old tire. So we came up with ways to make the game viable for today’s users while keeping it real enough for the retro core.
How did you meet up with Frozen Codebase?
JG: Ben Geisler runs this joint and he alone is reason enough to work with Frozen Codebase. He’s a great Mid-Western character. We met at E3 a few years back and I was struck by his passion and persistence. Passion is the special sauce that compliments any decent burger. And persistence is the passport into the world of all-nighters and code-till-you drop mentality. These were the ingredients we were looking for.
But Frozen Codebase is stacked with a stellar team and they’ve really come together to make BurgerTime World Tour a fantastic game and development experience. These guys are in Green Bay, a place so cold you’d want to stay inside and code. However, their collective talent produced a game that shows their depth of experience and puts a sweet shine on the game.
You know when I played BurgerTime World Tour… it hardly felt like BurgerTime. It was more like a platformer. Why did you change the formula so drastically?
Ben Geisler, President of Frozen Codebase: Actually the way we view it, we didn’t change it all that much. I mean sure, there are platforming elements in the new version. Peter Pepper can jump now; he can also throw enemies.
But the core is still there: he must create as many burgers as possible before continuing, and as fast as possible, all of this must be done while killing as many enemies underneath the buns and ingredients. It’s a classic formula that works well with a modern approach.
Did you know that the original Mario (called Mr. Video) couldn’t jump? Characters evolve over time and we thought it was time to evolve Peter Pepper. But we took a decidedly old school approach by keeping the three most important things: dropping burgers, running from enemies and using your pepper attack.
Where did the idea for the cylindrical levels come from?
JG: We needed to remake the entire concept while keeping the core mechanics. So the fun stays but the world gets painted on an entirely new canvas. The cylindrical rotating levels allowed us to expand the playing field without losing the burger-making mechanics. The ability to see through the cylinder and spot what others are doing on the other side opened the doors for a more dynamic multiplayer experience. It truly adds to the experience.
Behind Peter Pepper you can see other opponents and gameplay objects. These could be other chefs playing against you, other ingredients and other enemies. It’s not a meaningless upgrade to 3D graphics because it’s actually important to keep track of what’s on the other side of the rotating world. This is a fairly unique way of translating an old 2D game and we feel it’s an evolution of the core design.
How did you design stages so they fit the rotating levels?
BG: We had a lot of different mechanics in our design repertoire including hazards, power-ups and style of maps. Some maps are heavy on enemies and patterns. And in this new version you have eggs that actually charge you, for example! The horror! You also have trap doors, flame broiled hazards and other dangerous kitchen things to get in your way. We mixed these up to make interesting levels.
One thing we added during development was a rocket pack. In the later levels you actually need to take this power-up in order to fly up to the overhead platforms and get more burgers. Since the levels are fully 3D and rotating, it gives us the chance to expand in all dimensions.
I didn’t get to see any of the game’s bosses when I played the game. Can you tell us about them and how they work?
BG: There are both chef-sized bosses who are out to get you and giant robot sized bosses. Each represents a chef striving for culinary dominance hailing from a different part of the world.
We have four main worlds in BurgerTime World Tour. Peter Pepper is competing to be the best in the world, but he has a lot of burger fighting to do on his way up the ladder. One of our bosses is Diner Dan has taken control of the Burger Maker 3000 or BM3K. The machine turns cows into burgers in no time flat and you need to stop it! El Fayado is a giant Mexican wrestler boss that causes havoc unless you feed him the right kinds of burgers. There are a couple other surprise bosses along these same lines, but I need to save some of this for dessert.