There's something a bit special about King Burger (or Burger King - It can't seem to make up its mind which it is). From the Spectrum homage loading routine to the colourful egg-splat JSW-style "Prepare To Meet Thy Doom" introduction, it has some of the feel of the old arcade machines.
It's also unlikely you've ever played a platformer quite like it. You are an agile little chap given the task of making two large burgers (complete with buns). Now when I say "large", I mean it - these burgers are twice your height and four times your size! They are positioned, when the game begins, on several levels of platform connected by ladders. You need to run over the base-bun, burger, cheese and top-bun in turn. When you do so, the component drops through the floor to the bottom of the screen.
As the screenshots show, the layout of each level is sadly devoid of the imagination that has gone into the introduction. There are four platforms, and there are ladders (or at least, ladders of a sort; collections of blue triangles is probably a better description) linking these to each other. There is also a rather-too-intelligent nasty in the form of a fried egg with feet, intent on your demise.
What we have here is actually rather curious. It was originally produced for the Acorn Electron - and it shows. Your character scurries around like at speeds that would give Speedy Gonzales a run for his money, frequently with the egg, which is called Freda, hot on his heels. To outwit it, you need fast reactions, and a strategy.
Control is with the usual ZX*? combination and you can fall any distance and survive. Your foe homes in on you and its handling of the ladders usually proves much more dexteritous. For, whilst climbing and descending the ladders is easy, doing it at speed is not. Often you can end up hitting the left or right key before you've quite made it - and end up getting stuck for that oh-so-fatal nanosecond. But the strategy, once you learn it, can help out.
The one thing you can do, which the egg cannot, is fall through gaps in the platforms. Therefore, even if you're feeling the sizzle of its yoke on the hairs on the back of your neck, if you can race to a hole and drop through it, the egg will have to take the long way round.
When you release a burger ingredient by the incredibly hygenic method of running over it in your muddy trainers, it only falls to the platform below. You also incur a score penalty by letting one ingredient overtake another on the way down. You therefore need to try and plan your routes around, on top of everything else.
There are just a few minor quirks to King Burger. The most obvious is the number of times you end up cornered; this readily occurs when you get halfway over a burger component. As you run across it, it sags (visibly falling by about one pixel). As you make it to the other side, it falls. The egg never follows you over a burger component - it waits until it falls then cruises over the platform where it had been. Whilst you can use this to your advantage when trying to escape from the egg, it doesn't work so well if the egg comes at you head on. Once you've decided to run over a component there's no turning around and going back. Ah the number of times I've stopped short in the middle of the component - half of it sagging, the rest of it level - and realised the egg is patiently waiting at the edge of the platform next to it. You don't know what true despair is until you realise you can't go backwards because the game won't let you - and you can't go forwards because there's a mutant poised to eggsterminate you. Of course you always end up leaping to your eggy death a few seconds later - but I suspect a fair few people will feel a sense of exasperation that this is their only choice.
What else? Well, on the BBC it runs so quickly as to be near impossible!
That said, it really is a good game, although not a great one. If it had the imaginative layouts and sheer kinetics of Chuckie Egg, I would likely think it brilliant. The pace is frentic but, with a bit of practice, each level is quite achieveable. Ahem, that is, until there are two eggs instead of one then it's just ridiculous!
There's a nice zippy burger-chomp animation before each level and an engaging Game Over sequence too. The game is almost 100% machine code and easily better than much of the professionally released rubbish for sale in 1985.
King Burger was written by Brian Lewis and is available on the Your Computer 5.09 companion disc. It runs on a BBC with PAGE at &E00 (or BBC Master 128) or an Acorn Electron.