Game: Make the Burger
Genre: Arcade, Memory, Simulation, Time Management
System: Nintendo Switch (also available on Steam & Windows)
Developers | Publishers: Creative Hand | Silesia Games
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $3.99 | US $2.99 | EU € 2,39
Early Access Release Date: January 20th, 2022
Review code used, courtesy of Silesia Games.
Unlike my foodie husband, I don’t spend hours drooling over food videos and picture-perfect cooking blogs. But I’ll tell you what I drool over: Culinary pixel art.
Food truck simulator Make the Burger serves up a new plate of eye candy. And what could be finer than a juicy burger? Sure, it’s made of pixels, but that doesn’t make it any less mouth-watering. Only… I don’t have the time to enjoy it.
Make the Burger is about speed and memory. The customers are waiting, grumbling over late orders. A bunch of cops on lunch break are leaving their table in a huff, which penalizes me in Happiness points. I’m slapping burgers together for two weird green people, though they arrived later than the cops. They might kill me if I don’t serve these brain burgers on time.
Some want mayo, some want mustard. Was it ribs or salami? Cheddar? Catupiry? Oregano? Arrgh!!
It’s like Diner Dash plus Diner Memorize the Orders. At first, these orders are three-ingredient burgers, but this gradually evolves into six-ingredient burgers. You might start off mumbling to yourself, “Swiss, bacon, tomato, olives. Okay, got it.” Soon, you won’t have time to even say “Swiss.” This is your chance to develop photographic memory if you weren’t already born with that superpower.
It’s a hard game, though the gameplay itself is extremely simple: When a customer sits down, check their order. Open your burger menu and select the right ingredients. Serve the burger to the right customer. That’s all to it.
Not quite. Each customer has a time limit. You lose Happiness points if they’ve waited too long or if you make a mistake with the ingredients. But do it perfectly and you’ll earn Happiness points.
The Business of Happiness
Happiness plays a dual function. It’s your health points (keeping you alive in the game) and also your money.
Spend Happiness points to buy new ingredients or add tables. Now, these don’t quite feel like upgrades. They feel more like added challenges: more to memorize, more customers to disappoint. Also, spending on these upgrades means starting the next day of business with a lower Happiness meter, i.e. closer to the edge of Game Over. An odd concept, but buying these risky upgrades does make the game more exciting. The nice thing is you’re not forced to make any upgrades; choose your own pace.
The point of everything is to beat your own high score. It’s a traditional arcade game, in that sense. And here’s where the game flops a bit.
I don’t have a strong incentive to keep trying run after run. Getting a higher score or unlocking the full menu no longer compels me to start again from scratch.
I might persist if I knew how the scoring worked. Are new ingredients and additional tables worth more points? What can I do to improve my score besides simply surviving? It wasn’t long before I lost the excitement of trying something new, like discovering a new mechanic or implementing new strategies or knowledge.
Let’s Turn Down the Heat
This high-octane burger-flipping is enjoyable, even addictive in the short term. But it’s not going to hook me beyond five hours.
And while Make The Burger‘s pixel art is a huge appeal, I don’t have time to admire the burgers I’m making. It’s Hell’s Kitchen down here. Even when I do unlock delectable new ingredients, I can barely enjoy them, they simply make the game harder. Wish I could play around with burger combinations in some kind of photo mode.
While the game’s difficulty was enjoyable for me, providing two difficulty modes would make it more accessible to a wider audience: perhaps Normal Mode for the current difficulty, and Easy Mode for very young or very old players. Make the Burger could be a great anti-dementia game.
The Switch version provides touchscreen controls, which is vastly preferable to the snail’s pace of Joy-Con controls. Still, you do have to be careful when tapping on menu icons and customers; they’re rather tiny and you don’t want to tap the wrong thing. I haven’t had too much trouble with controls, except for disposing of unwanted burgers. Dragging them across the screen hasn’t worked well for me.
Make the Burger is beautiful, likeable, and will kick your frontal lobe’s butt. Alas! If only I had time to feast my eyes on these sweet burgers, but the game’s fast pace is too intense for that. There’s a good challenge to be found here, but it lacks staying power.
Verdict: I Like It