Welcome to Gamer Week, in which The Takeout will be celebrating the edible side of video games all week long.
Since it aired its first commercial in 1963, McDonald’s has proven that giving kids all the things they love—toys, play places, video games, McNuggets—is a winning formula. Who knew? In 2021, I am now a parent who regularly puts the kibosh on my kids’ Happy Meal dreams, believing myself too smart to be hoodwinked by the manipulations of the Golden Arches. But then came The Takeout ’s first annual Gamer Week, and for the sake of journalism I decided to revisit some of McDonald’s old video games through the miracle of unlicensed internet emulators.
I have been playing video games for five straight days.
I cannot write, cannot sleep, cannot pay any sort of attention to my children, because I am a woman consumed. Foolish me, thinking I could revisit the past without becoming mired in a world of peril and anthropomorphic hamburgers! To save you from the same fate, I’ve put together this brief ranking of every McDonald’s game I could find online so that you won’t similarly have to surrender hours of your life to unwinnable wars. However, I’ve also included links to all these emulators. Proceed at your own risk.
McDonald’s Treasureland Adventure (SEGA, 1993)
This game is set up like classic Genesis 2D platformer, full of vibrant colors, rapid action, and obnoxious music. Its barely existent plot involves a treasure map that’s been torn into pieces and divided between a group of bad guys. In order to find the buried treasure and do whatever it is that clowns like doing with a chest full of gold, Ronald needs to run around shooting magic stars at enemies, and I’m not really sure what else because this game gave me a massive headache and I quit before finishing the first level.
I also found an emulator for the game’s Japan-exclusive SEGA Game Gear counterpart, Donald no Magical World. If you stuck the Japanese cartridge into an American Game Gear, the game auto-translates into English, revealing a secret title: Ronald in the Magical World. Though this is a pretty cool secret, the game still sucked.
Donald Land (Nintendo Family Computer, 1987)
Another Japan exclusive, I suppose Donald Land does the best a game from 1987 can do. I’ve created the following slideshow to give you the gist of things, because this game is freaking impossible, and not nearly good enough to justify the many, many hours of my life I’ve wasted on its bullshit.
McDonald’s Global Gladiators (Sega Genesis, 1992)
Another 2D shoot-and-run platformer, whose funky fresh intro tells you literally everything you need to know about this game. I have filmed it for your enjoyment.
This is one of the rarest, most mythical games in the Nintendo DS canon, developed by McDonald’s Japan as an employee training program. Fewer than 4,000 cartridges were produced and distributed only to McDonald’s employees, making it a coveted collector’s item. (If you care to know more, there’s a whole documentary about it.)
I spent hours searching for this mysterious game to no avail. I then asked my kids for help, they found the game in less than five minutes, and mastered itin about an hour:
Even though this game is in Japanese and is meant to teach you how to work at McDonald’s, it’s surprisingly fun! If you’ve ever wanted to see what it’s like working the line at Mickey D’s, this is a great way to live the dream.
M.C. Kids (NES, 1992)
M.C. kids is a blatant ripoff of Super Mario Bros. 3. It has now been five days since I started playing and I cannot beat the first world, have thrown my laptop across my bedroom twice, and have invented a handful of brand-new unprintable curse words. This game is full of secrets and surprises, is far more clever than it needs to be, and is incrementally destroying my life. Approach this one with extreme caution, because it will suck you into its murky depths and never let you go.
Just like SEGA Genesis’ Treasureland Adventure, M.C. Kids also crossed over to the world of handheld gaming as McDonaldland for Game Boy. And, just like Donald no Magical World, it’s a pale imitation of the original console game, devoid of any real challenges and severely lacking in the whimsy department. It’s worth checking out if you want to be reminded of just how disappointing the majority of Game Boy games actually were.
McDonald’s Monogatari: Honobono Tenchou Ikusei Game [Game Boy Color, 2001)
This is a bit of a deep cut in the McDonald’s gaming catalog, and it’s so much fun that the concept of time will cease to exist. Despite not having English captions, it’s pretty easy to figure out how to play the five mini-games that have you working every station in a bustling McDonald’s kitchen. There’s a strong possibility that additional mini-games are buried in here somewhere, but again, I don’t read Japanese, so I’ve been running around clicking on things and hoping for the best. I haven’t been fired yet, nor have I accidentally set the restaurant on fire, so I think I’m winning? I’ll know more after I play another hundred hours or so.