Burger Chef Tycoon isn’t the first game of its type on the Xbox. Baltoro Games have previously graced the Xbox with Food Truck Tycoon and Sweet Bakery Tycoon, and the simple truth is that Burger Chef Tycoon is a reskin. If you’ve played either of those two games, Burger Chef Tycoon is nigh-on identical, just with the hot dogs and pies switched out for smash burgers.
That won’t mean much to a lot of people, so we’ll cover the basics. Burger Chef Tycoon lets you live the fantasy of being a diner chef, flipping burgers for customers who turn up on a regular basis. If you want the big bucks, you will be satisfying their orders in a timely fashion. Leave them waiting, and they will take their business elsewhere.
Like the other Tycoon games, Burger Chef Tycoon is an attempt at distilling a reasonably complicated job into some very simple button presses. The kitchen is laid out in front of you like a car’s dashboard. Each section represents a different button-press. Over to the left is the juices, and you can get the juice-machine starting with a tap of the LT button. Next to it is the ice cream machine, and a chocolate whippie can be made with a press of RB, while a vanilla one is RT.
Things get more complicated from there. A frier can make onion rings, chips and fritters, and that has to be manually selected with a jab of the analogue stick and A button. Since you will only ever have two friers at one time (and only one in the opening sections of the game), you’ll have to anticipate the orders and get those three ingredients racked up and ready.
Then there are the burgers, which like the frier, needs to be manually constructed. They’re any combination of burger, chicken burger or bacon, and they can be loaded up with any permutation of lettuce, cheese and tomato. You’ll be scrutinising the order images, trying to pick out whether there is, in fact, lettuce in that bacon bap (lettuce in a bacon bap? You monsters).
Which is all to say that Burger Chef Tycoon resembles a rhythm action game, a Guitar Hero that will clog your arteries. Orders line up, and you will be resorting to muscle memory. Spot a vanilla ice cream in your peripheral vision and the RT button will be tapped, creating a dessert that you can pick up in a few seconds time. Strategies form: we realised that burgers never get cold (what sorcery is that?), so you can prime some of the common burgers early, before the punters even ask for it. Ice creams, though, melt pretty quickly, so they should get made on the spot.
As with Sweet Bakery Tycoon and Food Truck Tycoon, it mostly boils down to a process, but it’s one that has its own joys. Grokking the button combinations and strategies for success is undeniably enjoyable: we felt like we had reached the point where we’d completely mastered Burger Chef Tycoon. We couldn’t quite do it blindfolded, but we were close.
We started moving into a hypnotic state, where we barely realised we were playing anymore. It’s as double-edged a blade as you might expect. On one side, we liked the blissful brainlessness of playing through its many levels (including Secret Levels that unlock the entirety of the kitchen), and we were able to tap into the skills we developed in the other games. But it’s also incredibly repetitive, and doesn’t do much to test anything other than your reflexes or memory.
We suspect that most people will be bored well before Burger Chef Tycoon finishes. Because it doesn’t have any tricks to mix things up. The closest it’s got to variety is difficulty. We were getting three stars on every level without issue until we hit about level 50. It’s here that two-stars was the new norm. You have to be on top of your game, wasting absolutely zero food and fulfilling orders within seconds. It’s entirely possible but needs concentration.
We wouldn’t exactly call it variety, though. In the earlier sections of the game, there’s some interest in choosing what to upgrade and when. You earn cash through your orders, and that cash can be spent on extra kit for your kitchen (would monsieur like an extra griddle for a third burger?), faster cooking times, or simply more cash per serving. We opted for the latter and it worked for us: we could just about juggle the small amount of space that we had. You will probably have a different take.
But, again, it can’t manage to change the ways you play Burger Chef Tycoon. It leaves a dodgy aftertaste: each level tastes like the last, just with a shorter clock or more punters.
We’re proper weird: we found the repetition of the same tasks to be oddly soothing, at least in small doses. But we’re willing to bet that we’re an outlier. Burger Chef Tycoon is a bit like me in the kitchen: there are a few meals that I’m good at, so I make the same thing over and over. Burger Chef Tycoon’s menu is equally narrow. Once you’ve made the few dishes it has to offer, you’re going to want to go elsewhere for the next meal. Would sir like Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?!, perhaps?