Retro Views: McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure

July 30, 2010 // Published by Matthew Blackwell

There's no reason that a game based on the McDonald's license should be this good. That is, until you start the game and see that none other than Treasure, they of the intensely awesome action games, were behind this forgotten gem of a game.

This was the first game that Treasure started development on, and the quality of the game shines through, even though it's based on the McDonald's character universe. Of interest to Treasure devotees might be the ways in which this game seemingly influenced other games that they developed later. The shifting, surreal landscape is a Treasure staple at this point, and specific mechanics such as this game's version of a grappling hook were later used to great effect in the game Dynamite Headdy.

You play, of course, as Ronald McDonald, who has one day stumbled across a treasure map. Well, part of a treasure map. The other three pieces have been taken by some "bad guys," and it's up to Ronald to go beat the shit out of them and take back the treasure map pieces. It's standard 1993 platformer story fare, and it's inconsequential of course.

What this game really is about, though, is tight platforming that is surprisingly innovative for a licensed game. You might be jumping from one platform to the next, only to have the ground shift beneath you into a slanted world. Or you might find that you're partially obscured by walls, and have to make guesses about where to go based on small visual cues. Or, you know, you might have to jump across the heads of ballerinas as they dance to "Swan Lake." Yep, it's that type of game.

So what makes McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure so awesome? Well, mainly that it's really fucking weird and keeps you on your toes all the time. For instance, Ronald's main attack is magic that he shoots out of his hands. Why? Why not? The enemies that he encounters, too, are like cast-offs from Mega Man crossed with the enemies from Sonic the Hedgehog, occasionally crossed with some of the less-weird enemies from Cho Aniki (I'm thinking of the old man who throws things at you from open windows, or the really ghastly sumo wrestler who causes streets to crack). Finally, all of the signifiers that this is a McDonald's based game are actually barely present. Beyond the fact that you play as Ronald McDonald and the Hamburglar and Grimace show up, the game really is a Treasure game through and through. You don't eat burgers to gain more health, there's no levels set in the ball pen, and the game doesn't even really take place in a particularly McDonalds-y locale. It's far less corporate than I feared it would be. (Note to companies: if you're going to make licensed games, at least get a developer of half the quality of Treasure.)

With all that said, there's a number of glaring flaws with the game, things that can probably be chalked up to both the nature of the audience for this game and the fact that it was Treasure's first game ever. Namely, the game is way too easy. I blew through it in about half an hour. Considering the price tag that you'll have to pay to get this game, it makes it really only appealing to the Treasure diehard (or McDonald's curio collector). This is absolutely because of its intended audience of five to eight-year-olds, but one also wishes that there was more than four stages. The stages are pretty incredible, but they certainly don't take very much time to go through. Finally, the bosses. While they're varied, they can all be defeated exactly the same way, and while it's certainly quite an interesting way to go about a boss fight (you have to intentionally let it hurt you, and then while it's "chewing" on your life, you hit it with your magic), it makes the fourth boss pretty anticlimactic. This game is still way better than it needs to be though, and if you're of the emulating type (not that we condone such actions at Vigigames, mind you), this might be one to check out, especially if you're a fan of either Treasure or crazy-ass shit.