You play as Peter Pepper, burger chef, and construct burgers out of giant buns, hamburger patties, lettuce, tomato and cheese slices. Walking over a burger part drops it to a lower level, until the parts finally pile up on a plate.
Peter is chased by food enemies; besides using his legs, he can fire his pepper shaker at them to briefly stop them in their tracks (pepper supply is limited, but you can replenish it by grabbing prizes like ice cream cones and ketchup bottles). If an enemy is atop an ingredient when it falls, it will fall farther; enemies can also be squashed between falling burger parts.
Mattel produced most of the early home ports; their Intellivision port did so well, it became a pack-in for the Intellivision II. An Intellivision-exclusive sequel, Diner, was developed at Realtime Associates (using levels from the unfinished game Masters of the Universe II), and released in 1987. In this game, Peter Pepper has to kick balls of food so that they roll off platforms and down ramps to land on a plate, while avoiding or crushing the enemies.
Data East released two obscure follow-ups for arcades. Peter Pepper's Ice Cream Factory, released in 1984, took away Peter's pepper shaker but let him crush enemies with scoops of ice cream before throwing them onto cones; it was rarely seen until it appeared with the original game on the Compilation Rerelease Data East Arcade Classics. Super BurgerTime, released in 1990, remixed the formula by introducing a much younger protagonist, even bigger levels, burgers of different sizes, new enemies that could now be combined with the burgers, and Boss Battles.
In 2008, Namco released BurgerTime Delight for mobile phones. Monkey Paw Games remade the game in 2011 as BurgerTime World Tour, but it was removed from digital storefronts in April of 2014 when their license agreement expired.
BurgerTime contans examples of:
- Acrofatic: Pete can move pretty fast for a fat guy, although he slims down in the home versions.
- Actionized Sequel: Ice Cream Factory is notably more faster paced and gives Peter Pepper the ability to jump and do flips off the edge of the screen.
- Anthropomorphic Food:
- Mr. Hot dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg are in hot pursuit in the original.
- Ice Cream Factory adds Mr. Milk, Mr. Donut (who returns in the Game Boy BurgerTime as a giant), and Mr. Strawberry.
- The sequel retains Mr. Hot Dog and adds Cheap Cherry, Bad Banana, and Mugsy the Mug o' Root Beer.
- Burgertime Party! brings back Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, Mr. Egg and Mr. Donut.
- Chubby Chef: Pete works with food and was initially fat, though he is often slimmed down in ports.
- Dolled-Up Installment: In The '80s, Realtime Associates developed a fully-working prototype of a Masters of the Universe game for the Intellivision. Gameplay involved avoiding enemies while moving around a single screen in isometric view and kicking items to the bottom of the playarea. When the Masters of the Universe license didn't work out, the game was instead retooled as a BurgerTime sequel under official license from Data East: He-Man was replaced with Peter Pepper, the enemies were replaced with the series' signature sentient food, and the game was described as taking place in the titular diner rather than Eternia (though the latter change required surprisingly few alterations to the graphics). Despite the changes being mostly sprite swaps, Diner actually worked well as a BurgerTime sequel, keeping with the original's theme of forcing food items to the bottom of the screen and avoiding food enemies.
- Edible Ammunition: Peter Pepper is armed with a pepper shaker, which can stun the enemies chasing him for a brief time.
- Endless Game: As with most Golden Age arcade games, BurgerTime just keeps looping through the same stages, and the enemies eventually get ridiculously fast. Also played straight with Ice Cream Factory, but averted with certain sequels/remakes. Namely:
- The ending for BurgerTime Deluxe for the Game Boy has Peter able to crush a competing donut shop wanting to do Peter's burger place in.
- BurgerTime Party! for the Switch has the four food items wanting to do in Peter due to them being parts of rejected hamburgers. They knock Peter into a shelf that causes various food items to spill onto THEM, and in the commotion, a new burger is made. Peter realizes this is the burger he's been looking for to put on his menu. They're later behind the counter with Peter as hungry customers want that new burger, having implied they're now working with Peter.
- Fire-Breathing Diner: Red-Hot Peppers in BurgerTime Party! turn Pete into a fire-breathing character, unable to go up or down ladders but able to run back and forth to scorch foes if they're in front of him (scoring the same as if he dropped food onto them from above, but be careful: Peter's still vulnerable from enemies coming from behind/above/below).
- Food Eats You: The game has the poor burger chef menaced by giant hot dogs, eggs, and pickle chips. Their slightest touch is instant death.
- Giant Food: The objective is to walk over giant buns, burgers, lettuce, and tomatoes, causing them to fall down platforms and make giant burgers.
- Inkblot Cartoon Style: BurgerTime Party! uses an art style reminiscent of Inkblot albeit with modern color, with Rubber-Hose Limbs, Pie Eyes, round head and body of Peter Pepper, and White Gloves of the enemies, most likely to capitalize on the popularity of Cuphead.
- The Juggernaut: BurgerTime Party! has Mr. Donut able to run across the screen and even pepper doesn't stop him if he's running. Once he reaches the end of the "road" he stops and is stunned briefly.
- Kill Screen: Level 28 is considered the killscreen. The baddies explode into manic hyperactivity, and if you survive for a nearly-impossible 90 seconds, then freeze into agonising slow motion. The fast food you need to drop also goes paralytic. The stages are still beatable, but good luck watching food fall for hours per stage!
- Level Ate: You're walking over giant hamburger parts or handling large scoops of ice cream as large as Peter Pepper himself.
- No Plot? No Problem!:
- There doesn't seem to be any motivation for Peter at all here other than building hamburgers and ice cream as quickly as possible.
- Averted (again) by some sequels which give the chef an ultimate goal, such as stomping a competing store that are sending its minis to sabotage Peter Pepper. Or trying to find the perfect burger to save his own burger place from bankruptcy a fight among the enemies helps create this burger, and Peter then uses this to bring them over to work with him.
- Pepper Sneeze: When a mook is hit with pepper, it's temporarily stunned, presumably due to a sneezing fit.
- Power-Up Food:
- Grabbing collectable food that appears (mysteriously) replenishes Peter's Pepper count by 1 or stuns enemies in the original game and Ice Cream Factory respectively.
- BurgerTime Party! takes it to new levels: pepper shakers add pepper (though if you have less than your max of three, you have to wait for a timer to go red across the pepper box to gain another pepper too) and can be single or in a three-pack (to get you from completely out to fully loaded). Red-hot peppers let Peter burn enemies in front of him (but keep him from using ladders), chicken nuggets temporarily trap the enemies in nugget-like breading, tea in a cup slows down enemies, and cups of soda speed Peter up.
- Respawning Enemies: Enemies respawn around the edges of the screen a few seconds after getting squashed, or from their final landing point after being dropped. In BurgerTime Party! they come out of trash cans, so be careful about being near one if it's shaking—an enemy is about to come out.
- Youngerand Hipper: In BurgerTime Party! Peter seems to be much younger and slimmer than his original version, though the art style borrowed from Cuphead might have contributed to it. Given about thirty years passed, this new Peter could be the original Peter Pepper's son/nephew, a "Peter Pepper Jr."