Thursday, 22 March 2012

Global Gladiators (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Super Adventures in McDonaldland - Game 4

No Nintendo release for this one. For some reason the game only came out on Sega consoles and Amiga computers. There's no hint of McDonald's in the name, but still somehow I get the feeling that they weren't entirely going for subtlety with the advertising this time.

The Genesis/Mega Drive title screen music (called Story Line in the music test) is made up of sound effects from the game and sounds fucking terrible. The Amiga version uses a track called Dance Tune instead which has some nice piano and sounds much better. So score one for the Amiga version.

Once upon a time at McDonald's...

...M.C. Kids/McDonaldland heroes Mick and Mack sit enjoying their fast food meal and reading a comic.

Actually they're not even eating anything. There's no food in this picture at all in fact. Weird.

Quiet you idiots, he might be listening.

In the Amiga/Genesis/Mega Drive versions Ronald McDonald materialises at their table, and magically transports them into the Global Gladiators comic book. He doesn't bother to ask them first.

Master System
But on the Master System and Game Gear versions of the game, he honestly slides up from the bottom of the screen grinning. And that's how the intro ends on those consoles, with the three of them just sitting there, looking awkward.

Well that's just great, now Mick's stuck in a slime covered shithole forest level, surrounded by gross monsters, and armed with a super soaker. And he didn't even get to finish his milkshake. I don't even want to know where Mack ended up.

Unlike M.C. Kids/McDonaldland, this is single player only, and the character select is hidden away in the options menu on the title screen. It's like they didn't even want anyone to play as poor Mack.

I like how it lets me aim my goop shooting super soaker up and down slightly, dragging the screen to give me a better view of where I'm shooting. Whatever this gun fires kills enemies in one hit, and it's even got recoil, pushing me back with each shot. Which seemed great until I managed to shoot myself backwards off a platform.

Still, I'm just happy the enemies actually stay dead in this, unlike M.C. Kids/McDonaldland.

The Amiga version has no background and seems to have a narrower screen, so I can't see as much of what's beneath me any more. Also it uses a one button joystick, so there's no aiming up.

The one thing it's got going for it over the Mega Drive/Genesis version as far as I can tell, is that it's got better music. But instruments occasionally drop out when a sound effect is playing, so even the that isn't so great in game.

I love the little animation they do when they're standing on an invisible platform.

On the Amiga version I tried jumping up here, overshot the platform, and fell into the instant death slime below. Weirdly it's actually impossible to do that on the Sega version, he won't walk any further left here. Score a million more points for Sega.

Almost every time I reach the edge of a platform I either have to stop and pull down to look for a safe way to get down (I can't fall down through ledges), or else make a leap of faith into the abyss. It's rare to find a helpful row of arches pointing me to a safe route, though they often mark invisible platforms in the sky just out of reach.

Game Gear
The Game Gear/Master System versions have the same gameplay, story, and style to the 16 bit versions, but with different art, music, and levels they're basically a different game. And the 16-bit game has a much better feel to it in my opinion.

These things must be what's pumping the slime all over everything. Fortunately it's nothing that a few shots from a super soaker full of corrosive orange goop can't fix.

You know, I was starting to doubt what kind of difference a couple of kids with water spray guns could really make to a forest so badly polluted it's actually literally dripping with slime. But hey if I'm blowing shit up then I must be making progress. We'll fix that environment yet!

Master System
The machines are little smaller on the Master System and Game Gear. And for some reason the damn things now take forever to destroy. Though on the plus side... I don't have to! They're someone else's problem, I'm really just here for the arches.

Apparently removing as many Golden Arches from the forest as I can is the best way to fight pollution. I'm not sure McDonald's really thought this message out.

Look at that lone Golden Green Arches pick up, spinning there in the air. You can probably tell from the other screenshots just how these spaced out the things are on these huge sprawling levels.

It's not unusual to climb up a bunch of invisible platforms right up to the very top of the map, to find only two of the things sitting up there to collect. And they want me to find 75 of them on every single level. Fuck that.

Huh, when did this become a race? Actually I did think it was a bit weird that this is the first McDonald's game to have a time limit. Why are we in such a hurry?

I need to get at least 30 arches before he'll allow me to move on to the next level, and 75 to get a bonus stage. Because apparently Global Gladiators are more about hoarding shiny things than actually clearing up pollution. Why do I get the feeling that Ronald McDonald has tricked me into collecting stuff for him again?

Of course they do.

The game has no world map, or level select, so it's just a linear run to the end. Which is a shame, because I liked M.C. Kids' map screen. It's nice to be able to take a game one piece at a time, instead of it being a marathon run.

Wow, slime is a bit shit isn't it? I slipped in from a blind jump and was instantly killed.

I have to wonder sometimes why the penalty for hitting a hazard is so much harsher than for hitting an enemy. Can't I just lose a bit of health and bounce back out again or something?

Game Gear
Meanwhile, on the Game Gear, Mick has been knocked over again. The guy must be drunk or something considering how often he lands on his ass.

This time it was because I got surprised by that green monster. It didn't jump out at me or anything, I just didn't see it. It's the same colour as the platforms, so my brain filtered it as being part of the scenery. That's another problem the 16-bit versions don't have.

Another row of invisible platforms, each one with an arches pick up above it, but this time there's an extra life at the end!

And of course the final arches pick up doesn't have an invisible platform beneath it, so I fall straight down and lose any chance of getting back across to the 1up. That's a cruel trick.

Master System
No wait, THAT's cruel. On the 8-bit versions the cost of leaving a stage rises each time. I have to collect 30 arches to exit level one, 40 to exit level 2, and 60 to exit the third level. Or I could just turn the game off. I gotta say I really didn't enjoy this version much.

It's a shame though, because it was finally playing the level one music from the 16-bit versions that I really like.

Wow, that's a nasty dented looking mushroom. I like how the art changes slightly for each level in the same world, even if it's just a different palette.

But I'm through with fighting slime monsters in Slimeworld now. I wonder what enemies await me in the Mystical Forest.

Oh. The enemies are beavers and plants.

Pretty weird kind of environmentalism this, where I'm saving the forest by killing plants and wildlife.

It's definitely pretty awesome art for a Genesis/Mega Drive game though. All the characters have fantastic animation.

What the fuck? An instakill pointy tree trunk in the background? That was my last life too you bastard!

Fortunately it seems I collected a continue at some point, so I'm still in the game.

Shame the game is so basic and repetitive. Every level is a just a bunch of platforms over bottomless pits, and I have to search every part of them for arches before the timer runs out. And that's it as far as I can tell.

What the fuck? I thought that was background! These trees are bloody dangerous.

Damn, these creatures really don't want me to fight pollution/steal their shiny floating trinkets. Don't they understand that I'm trying to save their planet?

The game's designer, Dave Perry, actually made a Captain Planet game too (though not the one I played). He also made Cool Spot, Aladdin and Earthworm Jim too, and Global Gladiators definitely feels like part of that group. Not the best part of it though to be honest.

Whoever heard of... what?

One final life remaining. I have a theory that I get extra continues every 50,000 points, so I just need to hold on a little longer.

Oh shit, a fish! That really was my last life.

Game over.

Just out of curiosity I started again as Mack (he's lost the hat, so now he's just a recoloured Mick), with the intent of getting 75 arches on level one and unlocking the bonus stage. It took me five minutes to find enough of them, but I finally managed it! And it's got the music from the Amiga version's title screen!

Items fall down the screen, being either bottle, can, or paper, (or anvil). I have to dodge the anvils, grab the recyclables, and file them one at time into the appropriate bin before they've stopped bouncing. It ain't a bad little bonus game, but it wasn't worth hunting down 75 arches for. Fortunately you can just skip the main game and play this from the options screen.

Shameless Advertising Rating: Not that bad. The game starts inside a McDonald's restaurant and is filled with the Golden Arches logo from start to finish... but it also shows an employee sliding up next to customers and teleporting them to slime hell, so it doesn't really portray them in an overly positive light. Plus it's not like I was collecting Happy Meals for health, and the game seems just as eager to promote recycling as it is to promote McDonald's.

Clown Rating: Reasonable. One showed up at the start of the game, and banished my heroes to a world of pollution and murderous beavers. But after that he only showed his face at the stage exit, to kick me back in until I'd collected enough shiny trinkets to appease him.

I can't say the game doesn't look and sound great, but it's all style and no substance. It's apparently just a basic 'collect the arches' game the whole way through with nothing else interesting going on in it. But if I was going to play it again, I'd pick the Genesis/Mega Drive version without hesitation.

Part 1: Donald Land (NES)
Part 2: M.C. Kids (NES)
Part 3: McDonaldland (Game Boy)
Part 4: Global Gladiators (Genesis/Mega Drive)
Part 5: McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure (Genesis/Mega Drive)
Part 6: Ronald in The Magical World (Game Gear)

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