McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Genesis
  • Developer:
    • Treasure
  • Publisher:
    • Sega
  • Released:
    • JP 09/23/1993
    • UK 1993
    • US 07/15/1994
Score: 85%

This review was published on 07/31/2015.

McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure is a side-scrolling platform video game published by Sega and developed by Treasure for the Sega Genesis and Mega Drive. It was released in Japan on September 23, 1993, Europe in 1993, and North America on July 15, 1994. As its name implies, this is a game based on the McDonald's fast food franchise, featuring many of its corporate mascots. At first glance, this may look like a throwaway licensed title, but as surprising as it may seem, this is actually quite a good game. You know what they say: never judge a book by its cover. The reason why it's good is because it's made by the same company that created Gunstar Heroes, one of the best games on the Genesis. Stylistically, McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure is reminiscent of a future Treasure release called Dynamite Headdy, both in game play and in art style. In that sense, this game is sort of a precursor to Dynamite Headdy. As for why such a great company like Treasure would stoop so low as to make a McDonald's game, I'm guessing they needed the money to fund their other passion projects. They didn't pull any punches, though, because McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure still has all of the quality you'd expect out of a Treasure game.

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The lead mascot of McDonald's, a creepy clown that goes by the name of Ronald McDonald, lives in the fast food themed fantasy world of McDonaldland. While walking through the Magical Forest one day, Ronald discovers a torn piece of paper under a large tree. Upon closer inspection, he realizes that it belongs to a treasure map! Apparently, this treasure map has three other missing parts to it, and they're in the possession of three bad guys. Because Ronald isn't already rich enough from owning the biggest fast food franchise in the universe, he decides to go on a grand adventure to locate the remaining pieces of the map and eventually find the treasure. On his fantastical journey, Ronald will encounter many of his old acquaintances, such as the Hamburglar, Grimace, and Birdie the Early Bird. Short story sequences with pictures and text will appear throughout the game to show further plot development, and while not in the least bit interesting, it at least doesn't detract from the game play. Unless you're a hardcore fanatic of McDonald's, none of this will matter to you.

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Ronald is the protagonist of this here game and you control him and only him throughout the whole adventure. The controls are relatively straightforward: you can walk, jump, duck, and shoot magical sparkles out of your hands. Unlike Mario, Ronald can't defeat his enemies by stepping on them, so he'll have to rely on the sparkles to blast foes. That's hardly a bad thing, though, because these sparkles are a decent long ranged attack. The only annoying thing about the sparkles is that you can't shoot them out while walking, though you can shoot them during a jump. There's one more trick up Ronald's sleeve, quite literally, as he can latch onto hooks with a scarf that shoots out of his sleeve, using it as a grappling hook of sorts. You primarily use this to reach higher ground, because you're able to hoist yourself upwards after grabbing onto a hook. Sometimes you go down zip lines using the scarf, too. This mechanic gets reused in Dynamite Headdy in a different form, and it's rather satisfying to pull off. The scarf is one of the main things that differentiate McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure from other platform games and it's decidedly delightful.

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Treasure never disappoints when it comes to graphics and music; McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure is further proof of that. Firstly, this game has some of the most vibrant use of colors on the Genesis. Almost every section of the game is like a rainbow of color exploding all over your face. Talk about a colorful facial. The visuals are also really creative, like the triangular mountains with waterfalls coming out of them in the background of the first stage, or the floating tubes with water flowing through them in the foreground. There are many impressive visual effects, too, like rotating platforms and parallax scrolling. Admittedly, some of the visual design looks heavily inspired by Sonic, but that's not really a bad thing. And the music, well, it's nonstop awesome from beginning to end. Every track is catchy and brimming with life, giving the game tons of personality. The only thing about the music is that it can be a tad too loud at times, requiring you to frequently adjust the volume on your television. Good music is good music, though, even if it's loud. McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure looks and sounds like a Treasure game, which is to say, great.

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What separates a good platform game from a bad one is stage design and that's where McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure excels in. Just the first stage has a lot of cool stuff going on in it, like how it progressively changes into night as you play, which eventually causes ghosts to appear. Each stage is divided into multiple segments, and some segments feel distinct enough to be their very own stages. For example, the first stage starts you in a green plains area, then moves onto a giant tree, and it ends in an underground sewer with giant fish missiles. Stage two, on the other hand, begins on a moving locomotive and ends in a town. Many sections are extremely creative, like a part where Ronald must jump on top of dancing ballerinas, or another area where sumo wrestlers cause the streets to shift by stomping the ground. One stage even takes place on the moon! The enemies are inventive, too, like a clown that jumps out of your reflection in the mirror, or submarine fish that saw the boat Ronald is standing on in half. It should be noted, however, that you may not experience the stages in their entirety if you play on a lower difficulty, as some parts have been cut from the easier modes. Speaking of difficulty, this is uncharacteristically easy for a Treasure game, even on the hardest mode. That may turn off some people, but the creatively fun stages more than make up for it.

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Unsurprisingly, the end of each stage has a boss waiting for the chance to tussle with the infamous Ronald. The way boss battles work in this game is a little strange, though. Initially, bosses will be completely impervious to all of your attacks, all one of them. In order to actually injure a boss, you need to wait until they put out a tractor beam that sucks a jewel out of Ronald's pocket. After absorbing the jewel, the boss will be temporarily vulnerable. Jewels act as Ronald's life energy, however, so this means you're forced to take damage to do damage. This life trade is an odd design choice, though the fights are still rather easy, because you're able to damage the boss far quicker than it can damage you. Further, there are usually enemies inside the boss room that you can kill for extra health, should you need it. There's not too many bosses, which is an oddity for Treasure, considering their games are typically loaded with bosses. The bosses are decent, but unlike most Treasure titles, they're the least interesting part of the game.

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Scattered throughout the various stages in the game are shops. You see, Ronald constantly picks up bags of gold on his quest to the treasure, and he needs to spend his money somehow. That's where shops come in. At a store, Ronald can purchase things like additional health, extra lives, more continues, power-ups to upgrade the strength of his attacks, balloons that save him from bottomless pits, and so on. You can even extend Ronald's maximum life gauge, though this isn't permanent, as Ronald will lose all upgrades after getting a Game Over. All of these upgrades and power-ups can be obtained for free during the stages, but if you ever need more than what the game gives you, then you can get it at the shop, provided you've got the cash. It's a neat system that adds more depth to the game without detracting from the simplistic feel. Shops are optional and the menus are minimalistic, so this feature never bogs players down with unnecessary fluff.

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Who'd have thought that a McDonald's game could be so good? McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure is, astonishingly, one of the best games on the Genesis. The graphics and music are outstanding and the game play is stupendous. All the stages are bursting at the seams with creativity and personality. The only serious drawback to the game is that it's stupidly easy; you're constantly thrown tons of power-ups and extra lives, ensuring you'll have no trouble whatsoever completing the game even on the highest difficulty. That in no way jeopardizes the quality of the game, but it may disappoint those looking forward to more Treasure-like difficulty. McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure is a treasured treasure made by Treasure.

Word Count: 1,530

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