It had to happen. As sure as the sun sets in the west, as sure as the stars are in the sky, as sure as you can never find the TV page In your daily newspaper - it had to happen. We've eaten their burgers, we've been patronised by their bored, spotty teenage staff, and we've written letters to their complaints department And now, God help us all... we can play the computer game. If you haven't heard of McDonalds then you're dead. I'd lay odds that there's not one person reading this review who hasn't at one time or another sampled the delights offered by these emporia of healthy eating.
There will be very few parents who haven't been dragged down the high street by their screaming offspring who genuinely believe that their world will come to an end without the intervention of a Ronald McDonald Happy Meal. Get your wallets out mums and dads - this one's for the kids. Virgin tell me the game is aimed at pre-high school kids aged between about five and ten (the ones who are old enough to know what they want but still young and shameless enough to damn well cry their heads off until they get it).
It's a platformer as you'd expect, with the intrepid gamester taking the part of Mick or Mack, two of Ronald's young chummies. The Hamburglar - he's the fat one with the stripy sweater on the adverts - has run off with Ronald's magic bag. Ronald has really only got himself to blame however, since he was showing off with said bag at one of the many picnics such an ambassador as he must attend. Although not mentioned in the story, we believe the importance of the bag lies in it's power to transform a dead dog's tongue into a "100 per cent ham- burger in a sesame seed bun". But don't quote us on that.
Ronald's got a heavy schedule, so he enlists the help of daring duo Mick and Mack in his quest to recapture his pilfered satchel, insisting for no obvious reason that they gather all the puzzle cards he so carelessly scattered around the various levels as they go.
The levels then - there are seven in all, each watched over by a different one of Ronald's bizarre friends, and each containing about half a dozen sub-levels, making around 40 in total, plus the odd bonus level here and there. The idea is to avoid the cute little nasties and generally bounce and Jump your way to the end of the level, your pockets bulging with the all-important puzzle cards. There's a theme to each one too - for example "Birdies Treehouse" is, as one might imagine, set up in the trees, with clouds and other sky-like objects providing added obstacles.
Other goodies that need collecting are the (in)famous golden arches, McDonalds' trademark - these suspend in mid-air and if memory serves me correctly provide bonus points at the end of the level. A nice touch is the way in which Mick - or is it Mack? - can run upside down on certain platforms as long he's going fast enough, and another is the slow motion effect the gravity-less moon level provides.
The puzzles are quite simple and the colours bright and childish in order to appeal to the younger market but the platform action suffers a little from the much of a muchness stigma. Where McDonald's Land should really win the hearts of kids - and the pockets of their dads - is in its versatility. For starters there is a two-player option, whereby Mick and Mack operate not in a competitive way, but join forces to foil the evil Hamburglar together (aaahh).
At the beginning of the first level a simplified map shows the various levels within Ronald's Clubhouse. Using the joystick you can guide your geezer to whichever level you want to tackle first. Once the first main level has been completed, you are given the choice again with level two. But that's not all - oh no. When you are on a subsequent level, not only are you given the choice of attempting any sub-level therein (now read this carefully because it gets a bit muddled) but can travel back, using the map, through any of the levels you have already completed. So for example when on the last level, you can choose between about 40 places as to where you want to go. Well I think it's good, anyway.
Now be warned - don't download this game if you're looking for an innovative challenge, it's just not for you. But for those of you whose kids run around the house all Christmas upsetting aunty Beryl and knocking over everyone's beer, get your hands on this and it'll keep the buggers quiet for a good few days.
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