Thursday, June 17, 2010

Review: Burger Shop 2

If you've been following the recent casual game releases like I have, you're probably feeling let down. It is obvious that the standards for new games have been lowered. I have tried several of them, looking for something to review for you, and I just can't find anything good enough to play all the way through.

Fortunately, today I (finally) have something worth reviewing for you - a tasty little time management game from 2009: Burger Shop 2!

What I liked

  • Simple interface and controls
  • Variety of features
  • First-person perspective

What I didn't like

  • Not enough bonuses/upgrades
  • Music

Quick Plot

You wake up in a dumpster. Someone has screwed up your life and burger business, and you're going to track down the dirty fiend while rebuilding your burger empire!


Time Management: This game is a very simple, straightforward, multitasking, time management game. Here's how it works:
  1. Food and drink components come out of the BurgerTron machine on a conveyor belt.
  2. Customers come in asking for menu items.
  3. You pick up components off the conveyor belt and piece together the customers' orders.
Personally, I think the developers (GoBit) got off pretty easy here. They just had a clever programmer who came up with an algorithm for increasing difficulty (by means of more demanding customers, and an always increasing number of menu items). Then, they just throw 120 levels at you with 3 extra modes of play and their job is done. Genius. The game's mechanics are simple, but it keeps you playing. (Don't get me wrong, these developers are brilliant. I certainly couldn't code something like this. But I can see the game design for what it is.)

The interface. This is a standard breakfast level.

Your goal in the game is just to keep your customers happy by serving them quickly. As they wait, their patience meter goes down. If you serve all customers with 5-star happiness, you get a "Perfect" rating for that level. If you do pretty well, but don't satisfy every customer, you get "Expert." If you make too many customers ticked off, you get "Level Up," which just means you can go onto the next level, but with no honor.

There are two reasons to push for Expert and Perfect.
  1. That is what makes the game fun and challenging.
  2. That is how you earn a number of trophies in the Hall of Fame (just your standard trophy room, as in other games - but this game has way more trophies than most games).
I was determined to get Perfect on every level, like I did with the Farm Frenzy games. But the last two restaurants were so stinkin' difficult, that I finally abandoned my Perfection Project in the name of finishing the game and getting it reviewed. But I did manage Perfect on every level before the final two restaurants, so that was cool. Also, you can replay any level, if you want to try for a better rating.

The stats screen after finishing a level.


Interface and controls: Everything in the game is controlled with the mouse, as with most casual games. What's cool is how intuitive the controls are. Want to pick up 2 or 3 parts of the same food item? Just click them in succession and they automatically join up. Then, to deliver the food, you click it on the intended customer, or right-click, and the food will automatically deliver to the person who got there first. Need to get a waffle in the toaster quickly? Again, right-click the waffle, and in it goes.

It is very easy to keep track of what's going on. You never have more than 3 customers at once. Breakfast always has the same types of foods, as do lunch and dinner.

One of 15 pages of trophies.
You certainly won't run out of things to work for!

Variety of features: The game gives you lots of variety within the simple framework. For example, you'll get the following:
  • 20 types of customers with different levels of patience, and different food preferences
  • 120 levels
  • 4 modes of play:
    • Story (this is the standard one)
    • Challenge
    • Expert
    • Relax
  • Multiple bonuses you can add to your restaurant, including
    • Freeze (temporarily freezes all patience meters)
    • Speed (makes all food machines, such as ice cream machines, produce instantly instead of slowly)
    • Traffic cone (puts a traffic cone at one customer seat, so only 2 customers can order at a time)
    • Lollipop (adds more lollipops to your tray - these help to raise patience meters)
    • Money (gives you extra money when you deliver the attached item), and
    • BurgerBot (he quickly fills customer orders for you)

The Ninja. This guy orders stuff from breakfast,
lunch, and dinner menus at every meal.
Check out how I captured the screenshot right as
one ninja was appearing from out of nowhere. w00t!

Perspective: This is a small thing, but it can make a difference. Many time management games show your character running around throwing things into ovens or serving tables. I find that I actually like games where I don't see my character, but rather, I see everything from a first-person perspective. I like this perspective in the Farm Frenzy games as well.


Not enough extras: I already said that this game is brilliantly simple. The downside of this is that the developers can only go so far before the basic mechanic becomes repetitive. They mitigate this repetitiveness by increasing the challenge. That works well for a long time. But, by the end of the game, I was glad to be done. Those last couple of restaurants were so mentally and mouse-handingly exhausting that I just wanted to be done with them. They weren't quite as fun as the easier levels. And if the fun level diminishes, what's the point?

The level map, showing your road to all 8 restaurants.

What I think they should have done was to introduce more bonuses or upgrades. Why stop with BurgerBot 2? Why not 5 levels of BurgerBot sweetness? Or longer-lasting bonuses? Anything to help ease the pain of those later levels would be welcome. This would have really helped the game I think. The developers piled on the complications, but didn't match it with numerous upgrades. It's not a big problem, but it would have helped.

Music: The music was fair. It got the job done, but the few short tracks were repetitive and nothing special. I am continually dissatisfied with the way developers skimp on music to save money. I think music is among the top few features that keep me playing a game, or bring me back for a second play in the future. I can say that the Burger Shop 2 music is something I'd gladly forget.

The Clown.
Probably my favorite customer because he
orders completely random and odd dishes.

Suitable for the family?

There is nothing here to offend. The visuals are cartoony and everything about the game is diner-ish and bright. My kids liked sitting with me and telling me what they thought I needed to do. My wife likes the game, too.

Count this as one for the whole family.

The family man's final ruling

This is one of the best time management games I've played.

I was almost done with the game when my computer ran into issues and I had to reinstall the OS, and somehow didn't transfer my save games for Burger Shop 2. I had to start at the beginning, and still had fun going all the way through the game again. It's a light game loaded with strange humor at every turn.

I think the Challenge, Expert, and Relax modes really aren't valuable offerings from the developer. I think these modes were easy to program and so they threw them in so that it would look like you're getting a lot of bang for your buck, but really it's just more of the same, and not really fun to spend a lot of time on, in my opinion. But just playing through Story mode is a great quick-mousing experience.

If you're a time management fan, make sure to get this one.

One of the more colorful customers in the game.

You'll like the game if...

  • You're a time management fan
  • You like restaurant-themed games
  • You like light, simple games

You won't like the game if...

  • You don't like fast-paced games
  • You get frustrated trying to keep track of multiple orders at once

My rating:

If you want to play Burger Shop 2, click below:


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