More of the same, only tastier: That’s the kind of dish new time management title Burger Island 2 serves up, delivering an even juicier helping of food service fun than its predecessor.
Despite doing little to further the category or seriously revamp underlying play mechanics, the title’s high production values and intriguing extras nonetheless keep a stale setup from going sour way past its anticipated expiration date.
Told via animated, brightly-colored cartoon scenes of exceptionally high quality and charisma, the tale sees featured dive Beach Burger’s business just starting to head south. Customers have disappeared, and green-eyed beauty Patty Melton and mustachioed maitre d’ cohort Pierre have just found out why. They’re all busy dining at competing franchise Burger Chief, as business rival Edie Cole Iverson has kidnapped local culinary guru the Tiki Guy and stolen his secret recipes!
To rescue your pal, and discover the secret of his fabled Great Sauce, you’ll have to cook up a storm. Mercifully, thanks to a campaign map featuring 130-plus individual, self-contained stages set on islands that can be explored at your leisure via occasional branching stage pathways, it proves a deliciously endearing ride.
Your mission: Sling burgers, omelets and nachos to famished patrons. Note that all meals are composed of a number of different ingredients located at various points around the semicircular serving counter which dominates the screen at each stopover. Four trays, each with an associated thermometer, which depicts corresponding patrons’ patience levels, sit in its center.
To meet the minimum cash goals presented every day, you must quickly cook meat patties, eggs and tortilla chips then click to pile them high with an assortment of condiments. The catch being that clients want specific dishes made in singular order, so you’ll have to simultaneously juggle flipping burgers with frantically lunging for avocados, Swiss cheese slices, bacon strips and other yummy goodies. In addition, the more time you’ve taken to do so and angrier they are the less loot patrons will ultimately shell out.
All told, it’ll prove an instantly familiar setup to anyone who’s played either the previous outing or most other games in the same genre. Where the title sparkles, however, is in its stunning aesthetic. Picture a cartoon come to life, complete with shining halo of light-powered sight gags, swoosh-/sizzle-happy sound effects and a smiling cast of handsome hand-drawn heroes. (Especially Pierre, who frantically retrieves orders once filled.)
Nice touches also come in the ability to create new dishes between levels by picking and assembling ingredients in the “Experimental Kitchen”; a Tiki meter you can build by making combos to pacify grumpy diners; and the odd bonus game, i.e. helping Pierre balance trays on each arm.
But as much as we dig new gastronomic delights like garlic burgers and salami omelets, plus options for picking which island to hit next, the action here is a mite too formulaic. Nor are a great deal of twists and turns doled out throughout the tale, failing to liven up the proceedings, which quickly devolve into one big repetitious blur. (Although in fairness, trying to fill four orders at once did have us in sweats there for a moment…)
Likewise, even if you can’t second-guess surprises before they happen – meat plus pineapple slice equals Hawaiian Burger… shocker – recycled animations ranging from identical customers to various interstitial sequences also take some of the edge off. And, as in the last game, anticipating incoming orders and queuing up your grill before they’re placed is also a near-guaranteed way to get ahead.
Bearing this in mind, while not a bad or even nondescript title per se, especially if you’ve never tried the original and enjoy the visual style presented here, it all feels too much like the average cookie-cutter follow-up.
Neither a major leap forward for the series, nor misstep, Burger Island 2 is just a second bite at the same old apple that, thanks to a little new spit and polish, still tastes almost as good. The big question here, though: How much of one thing can you ultimately stomach?