Pocketbike Racer, Big Bumpin

December 7, 2006

Somebody in the Burger King promotions department deserves a raise. The King, BK’s creepy titular mascot has been amusing us via television for some time now. Whether he’s surprising groggy bachelors with an enormous omelet sandwich or making sure the reporter knows he’s watching, the King has definitely done his job. We remember him, we recognize him, and he makes us want a Whopper. That would be enough for most corporate mascots, but the King isn’t lazy. He’s making the move to video games so that we can interact with him as much as he’s been interacting with us through Burger King’s latest promotion: three Xbox and Xbox 360 games (regular Xbox and 360 version are available on one game disc) featuring the King. You can surprise people with Croissandwiches and Big Joe coffee in Sneak King, play demented bumper car hockey in Big Bumpin’, and race Brooke Burke in Pocketbike Racer. These games are cheap. $3.99 with a value meal cheap. Just don’t expect the world coming into these games and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Pocketbike Racer is easily the weakest of the bunch, and it’s still worth four dollars to see the King and Whopper, Jr. riding around on tiny motorcycles. There are five tracks and five race modes to explore. Each track is distinctive and colorful, and if you’ve always wanted to race your moped through the Burger King parking lot, then this is the game for you. The modes include standard race, deathmatch, cone gate slalom, time trial, and hardcore. Hardcore is easily the least fun mode as it’s taken all the look and feel of an arcade racer but taken away the weapons and power ups. If I wanted to play a racing sim, I wouldn’t have picked up a game featuring a fast food mascot with a huge head, thanks.

Big Bumpin’, at least at my house, has won a spot as a great Xbox party game. Cars control well, it’s easy to figure out for new players (the only control used is the left analog stick), and it’s fun. Bumper Car Hockey and Own The Puck (bumper car keep away) are the best of the five mini-games. Bumper cars just lend themselves so well to air hockey that it’s hard not to have a good time, and everybody loves watching Whopper, Jr. pout when he scores a goal for the opposing team. Oh, emo cheeseburgers, how do I love thee? Power Surge is the most difficult game features, but it’s fun once everybody understands the rules. Drive to the lit up circle and try to make it back to the deposit points before your opponents beat the crap out of you. The more charge you have when you deposit, the more points you get. Last Man Standing is a simple deathmatch. Saw blades and holes in the ground abound. This game, due to the small rink size, seems to reward luck more than skill. Shockball is a bumper cars version of hot potato. The only change I would have made is a two second window in which the shock can’t be handed directly back to whomever just got rid of it. Bumper cars make everything better. Even cheap for cash-in games.

The grand-daddy of the BK marketing gaming trio, however, is Sneak King. It’s one thing to watch that creepy plastic-headed man deliver hash browns to unsuspecting passers by, but it’s even better when you’re in control of the action. Sneak King is the common man’s stealth game. There’s no duct work or tranquilizers; it’s just the King sneaking around people’s vision cones and laying in wait under a truck for a hungry construction worker to come by just in time to surprise him or her with a tasty burger moment before passing out. And if it wasn’t creepy enough to play a masked stalker, you can enter first-person mode and look through the King’s mask as his head slowly rises and falls with each anticipatory breath. The game is challenging, the King’s antics as he delivers food are entertaining, and with four areas boasting 20 missions each, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth out of Sneak King.

Burger King has certainly hit the nail on the head with this promotion, and who doesn’t want achievements like A

Score: 2/5

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