While diehard gamers spent Sunday morning camping out for a Nintendo Wii, I had a different video game mission in mind. I sidestepped the long lines and walked right into my local Burger King
The title, which works on both the 360 and the original Xbox system, is one of three that the fast food giant began selling on Sunday. Yesterday I went ahead and picked up PocketBike Racer to add to my collection. The next time my kids have a hankering for some BK, I will complete the trilogy by ponying up for Sneak King.
At $3.99 a pop -- when most new next-generation games are fetching between $50 and $60 apiece -- I wasn't expecting much. Microsoft
I'm a menace on all bumpers
As for the games themselves, I was pleasantly surprised. Big Bumpin' features four different games that take place on bumper cars. Whether it's demolition derby, hot potato on wheels, or hockey with pinball bumpers, one to four players can get bumping in standalone contests or in tournaments. I turned to my 13-year-old son to see if he wanted to try out the Xbox Live functionality, but he wasn't sure his Call of Duty rivals would be able to take him seriously after that.
In that sense, Burger King has no problem with its place in pop culture. You can play as the iconic The King mascot or as recent BK pitchmen like Subservient Chicken and the Whopper Jr. kid. The chain of flame-broiled eats has no problem with self-effacing humor. It's probably hard to take yourself seriously when you're riding around sporting that creepily hilarious The King smile.
In PocketBike Racer, the restaurant tie-ins are even more obvious as you race around a series of eclectic courses that include a Burger King parking lot (I'm guessing that some public-interest group is going to voice its displeasure on that one) and a fantasy ranch that grows gargantuan Whoppers. The graphics are crisp. The gameplay is relatively smooth. If I have any real beef, it's that more could have been done on the audio side.
The Sneak King game, which I haven't played yet, is supposedly even more heavy-handed with the product placement, as you get to sneak up on hungry characters and surprise them with a BK meal.
All three games have the kid-friendly E rating. That isn't a surprise, of course. No one really expected BK to team up with Take-Two Interactive
An investment in itself
The games don't come with UPC labels, so don't even think about trying to trade them in at GameStop
The Xbox and Xbox 360 still combine for a very small base of players. Despite the PS3 shortage last week, Sony's
That's OK, I guess. It's fitting, too. In terms of sheer volume, Burger King is a distant second to McDonald's
So who will get the most out of this relationship? The BK games come packaged with two-day Xbox Live Gold trial passes, but I'm guessing that most Xbox players who have home networks are already subscribers.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to head out to a BK parking lot and teach Subservient Chicken a lesson.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does patronize Burger King often, as it's a local company, but he steered way clear of its IPO this year. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.