Developer: Big Fish Games
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Time management games on or off iOS are a staple. We’ve all seen them: run a diner, manage a hotel, a salon, farm, bakery, or supermarket by completing a series of small tasks against the clock. Big Fish entered this market, certainly not for the first time, with Burger Bustle HD, a recent port of their PC/Mac game. It’s a typical diner variant, but up against classics like Diner Dash or newer hits like G5’s Stand O’Food 3 or Chillingo’s Order Up!! To Go, it leaves a bland, stale aftertaste on this gamer’s palette.
The game has some instructions, but few are needed. Players start in a small diner. Customers come in, place orders and players tap the right foods and condiments to serve it as quickly as possible. Each level introduces new foods or new customers. Keeping everyone happy and served quickly, while meeting various objective like serving three cheeseburgers or hiring new staff, is the way to successfully complete levels. Players earn in-app currency to purchase various upgrades like coffee to speed up the staff, or faster appliances. Three times in each location, a tap upgrades the dining facilities, although players have no say in what gets upgraded or how it impacts the game.
Everything about Burger Bustle feels recycled, rehashed and threadbare. The characters, foods, and settings are generic and offer players little in the way of customization or innovation. The tasks take repetition to new heights: it’s flip the burgers, lay the cheese, cook the fries, serve the pie for dozens of levels with nothing to break up the gameplay.
There isn't much challenge, either. I toiled through the first four locations hoping to see anything remotely interesting or just for the pace to speed up to frantic, but had to give up after 32 levels. Nothing happens. There is a survival mode, but it’s just more of the same in an endless run. Even the bits of dialogue are insipid. A customer ordering four donuts yells, “hey where’s my burger!” or some such tripe.
The game’s final, fatal flaw is the imprecise controls. The screen is cramped. Items like desserts, coffees, and deep fried fare are so close together it's all but impossible to tell if cola or cherry cola have been chosen until they appear.
I guess if one absolutely adores this genre and has played all the possible iOS variations to death it’s worth the pick-up. But, if a time management or diner game with any zest is on the menu, Burger Bustle HD is not the eatery - or game - to visit.