Genre: Platformer Developer: Treasure Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1 Released: 1993
To many people, the thought of playing a game starring Ronald McDonald is enough to make them as cranky as a vampire with a paper route. The mere prospect of romping around a fantasy setting as the world’s most famous clown doesn’t sound too appealing, and normally, I’d be inclined to agree. I’m no McDonald’s fan (the little ones love it though, and as a dad, what can I do?), but I like to maintain an open mind, so I approached this task with but a single comforting thought:
It was developed by Treasure.
Sure, that might seem like something you’d hear from the raving fanboys that plague Internet message boards like so many termites, and while such skepticism may well be founded today, it wasn’t the case when Treasure Land Adventure was released. As the second game to come from the team after its separation from Konami, there were some high expectations for this release. Anyone who remembers playing Contra III: The Alien Wars, Axelay, or Super Castlevania IV are quite familiar with the handiwork of the different members that eventually went on to form Treasure. Coming on the heels of the incredible Gunstar Heroes, one would expect Treasure Land Adventure to be rife with the platforming and action magic that the company was quickly becoming famous for. Amazingly enough, The group’s second effort suffered from the infamous sophomore funk, and it’s no wonder that many Treasure sites and timelines out there tend to leave it out. It’s not that they hate the game, it’s just that it does nothing to make itself stand out.
The reality is that those expecting the next big Genesis extravaganza are going to walk away disappointed, and the casual platforming fan is going to be pleasantly surprised. This paradox comes from the way in which Treasure Land does absolutely nothing to live up to the reputation of its famed creators, while at the same time doing nothing really wrong. It’s a competent game, and that’s definitely something most companies shoot for, but coming from Treasure, especially so soon after Gunstar Heroes, you’re left expecting so much more.
Look on the bright side; how high can your expectations really be about a game based on a fast food personality? The funny thing is, there are zero references to the mega chain in this adventure, save for the sparse appearance of some of the clown’s friends like Birdie and Grimace. No french fries, no Big Macs, no McNuggets. Ronald’s out on a quest to find the missing pieces of his treasure (no pun intended) map, and he knows better than anyone that all that junk food would only weigh him down. Looking at the game again, maybe he should have brought some of that McDonald’s personality with him, as this game is about as derivative as you can get. Hmm, didn’t Konami’s Buster’s Hidden Treasure also involve the search for a treasure map?
At least the gameplay is solid. Ronald romps throughout all sorts of colorful stages, using his star magic to dispatch foes and his scarf to grab onto rings and sling around to higher platforms. Along the way, he collects money bags which can be used to buy extra lives and energy. Speaking of energy, it’s something that’s in great supply here. Collecting two gold rings replenishes one life stock gem, and three white rings do the same. Aside from that, enemies give up actual jewels all over the place. It’s quite hard to actually die in Treasure Land Adventure, and even falling into a pit doesn’t mean certain death, as there’s a convenient balloon ride to save you. Hey, it is Ronald McDonald…
Even so, this doesn’t mean the game is a walk in the park. Each area is divided into multiple stages, and there’s a lot of them, maybe too many for a younger player. Everything is pretty straightforward though, so it might not be too much for kids who can no doubt get past the license. The large and colorful sprites might help in that cause, and the stages themselves aren’t too hard to navigate. Most experienced gamers should be able to plow through this adventure in less than an hour, and the younger set shouldn’t be that far behind. The biggest obstacle to completing Treasure Land Adventure is probably boredom. The whole experience is just too hum-drum to excite, and I found myself wondering if Treasure had shot its wad – at least momentarily – after Gunstar Heroes.
Perhaps the only place where the famous Treasure shine does appear is in some of the boss battles. A few are multi-jointed and large, offering some decent action. Sadly, these moments are too few and far between, and most of the bosses are as dull as the levels they defend. I also found it weird that their preferred method of attack is projectile vomiting. I guess Ronald’s saccharine sweet demeanor is more than they can handle too. The irritating thing is that the only way to do any damage to them is just after the fire off the contents of their bowels, and you’ll mostly find yourself taking a hit in the process.
I’m not above recognizing Treasure Land Adventure for what it is: a solid platformer that plays and looks good. On the other hand, I’m not going to cover my eyes and deny that it’s far short of what Treasure is capable of, and it’s definitely a step down after the incredible debut the team had on the Genesis. Treasure took a questionable license and wrapped it around a generic platformer, and there’s nothing to applaud in that. Considering just how clogged the genre was in 1993, I expected much more. Think of it as a Happy Meal without the toy. There’s some good food inside, but you can’t help feeling like something’s missing.
SCORE: 6 out of 10