July 3, 2010

Review: Burger Bustle

game format: time management | arcade

puzzles: none

playtime: 8 hours (story mode) | difficulty: medium - difficult

developer: Sulus Games | publisher: Big Fish Games

links: Official site | Buy this game

Burger Bustle
game brief: Dive into some tasty fun in Burger Bustle, a fun and exciting Time Management game! Take over a restaurant and serve up delicious food as quickly as you can to keep your customers coming back for more. Earn awesome awards and unlock helpful upgrades that’ll help you work even more efficiently. Stay one step ahead of your clientele to keep up with the Burger Bustle! (Big Fish website)


Burger Bustle is a time-management game that involves running a chain of cafes that occasionally serve coffee.

the story:

There's none. The memo is short and sweet: do tasks, earn trophies.


Prima facie, Burger Bustle appears to tread little new ground from the tried-and-tested time management format. Customers come into the cafe, browse the menu, place their orders. Servers scurry to fry up burgers, stuff them with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, and a hint of ketchup for extra cash. Side dishes include three varieties each of ice-cream, sodas, coffees, desserts and fries. Customers may choose take-away or eat in the cafe; those who eat in sometimes leave tips.

And then comes the twist - the 'strategy' part. This isn't a game that can be beaten by just skidding across the mousepad. Planning which counters to unlock, how to distribute available workers, and which tasks to priortise plays a huge part in winning gold. Multiple targets per level add to the challenge.

There are eight 'locations' of the cafe - Beach, Wild West, Winter (surely this was lost in translation), City (screenshot), Shopping Center, Aqua Park, Hollywood and Space Station (screenshot), each with 8 levels, adding up to 64 for the game. At the start of each level, targets are defined for 'gold' and 'silver' trophies. The time target requires task targets to be completed - minimum orders to be served and/or cash to be earned and/or particular burgers types or sides to be sold and/or staff to be recruited.

Customer types are few (but range from blue collar workers to Japanese tourists) and remain constant irrespective of the cafes' locations. There's no significant difference in patience levels either; most are reasonable even with inordinate delays. Which is a saving grace, because the workers are woefully sluggish, and the sole in-game speed up is a coffee machine which takes over a minute (with levels averaging 2 - 3 minutes) to recharge after a 10-odd second use. After a few levels the cafe gets a gramophone (in a burger shop?) and candy that can be used to soothe irate customers.

Other positive elements include the facility to serve customers by clicking the right mouse button on the item rather than have to drag it to them; there is also no 'overnight wastage' - money deducted on leftover items when the shop closes, nor any penalties for discarding useless items except the time lost in handling them.

Each level has three decor upgrades - flooring, walls and tables, which improve tipping. There is no cash implication to purchasing them, so the feature appears cursory.

Great? Not quite. Burger Bustle suffers from a near-crippling glitch - customers often do NOT order the items required to complete tasks for many, many rounds. This wastes precious time, and renders the player helpless and frustrated. The worst afflicted levels are 14 (Wild West), 53 (Hollywood) and 64 (Space Station), for which gold targets appear improbable thanks to lack of ordering of critical items.

Another problem is that bonuses (upgrades) are 'awarded' on the player moving up a pre-set leaderboard. Even after completing all eight locations with 60 (of 64) gold trophies, I managed to make it to only number 2, short by over 4000 points, though the scores for each level are 'fixed' in terms of targets - achieving targets faster does not earn additional points. Not being able to choose an upgrade also hampers gamers from maximising their individual game-play strengths.

The game has two additional modes which extend playtime by several hours - "Survival", unlocked when the player ranks 8th on the leaderboard, and "Relaxed", unlocked at rank 2. Survival mode has the player racing against the clock to meet orders as customers increase and patience levels decrease, till 20 customers are lost. Relaxed mode is untimed, pressure mounting as customers increase along with order complexity.

art & graphics:

The art is vibrant and attractive, with smooth, clear graphics. Overall the game is a visual pleasure with above average production quality.

text, sound & music:

The game has very little text, keeping it crisp and free of typos. The voice-acting is good, but the limited sound-bites get repetitive after a few levels. The music is functional and remains in the background.


The biggest strengths of Burger Bustle are its perfect length and challenging game-play. The speed + strategy approach keeps the gamer engaged its entire duration. There's no getting bored with this game, and the only regret is the glitch of ordering task items that reduces its overall satisfaction score.

g@mrgrl rating: 4/5
Pros challenging speed + strategy concept, graphics, 64 levels
Cons design glitch - customers often don't order task items
Bugsno bugs noted

This is an original review written by me. Please do not distribute / adapt the text and images in any way without my written consent.