Tuesday, 20 March 2012

M.C. Kids (NES)

Super Adventures in McDonaldland - Game 2

McDonald's week continues!

This time I'm checking out the different versions of M.C. Kids (aka McDonaldland in Europe). It's pronounced 'Em Cee kids' according the programmer, just in case there was any doubt.

It seemed to take forever to get this text off the screen so I could start the game.

Once upon a time, in a tent under a creepy smiling moon...

...the M.C. Kids, Mick and Mack, were reading a book by the light of a dangerous looking lamp. Seriously, did they not have electric lamps in the 90s? That thing looks like it could do some serious damage if it got knocked over.

I've read that these two were originally going to be called M.C. Kid and Micky D, but McDonald's made them change it. Which sounds plausible.

Man, this image just isn't cool enough. I'll check to see if the DOS version's any better.

Better graphics for certain, but still not cool. Not in 1992.

Fuck yeah! That's more like it, Mick's even got a gold ring. Though now they look like 30 year olds.

I wonder what they're reading anyway.

The Adventures of Ronald McDonald and his magic bag Magic Bag. Aren't they a little old for this, in every version?

Well c'mon then, turn the page. I'm dying to find out what happens next.

Uh, did I skip a scene? Also, that should be 'help me get it back', not 'help us'. You're supposed to be setting an example for the kids here Ronald. Plus aren't you a video game hero yourself, can't you find your own damn Magic Bag?

Apparently Hamburglar stole the bag off screen, and then the M.C. Kids jumped into the book to help out. Or maybe they're just characters in the book they're reading, I dunno.

Uh... what? How did we go from chasing Hamburglar to searching your Clubhouse? I'm not taking one damn step into your Clubhouse mate.

I came here to help you find a Magic Bag, but if you're just going to mess me around...

I don't want to go to Birdie's house you fucking lunatic!

Wow the Amiga sprites for Mick and Mack are massive. Mick's head is twice as wide as Ronald's head. His fist is wider than Ronald's head.

Excellent, a world map/level select screen, always happy to see one of these. And by 'levels of my Clubhouse' he apparently meant 'forest levels', of course.

Shame the screen shows how many cards I need, but doesn't say if there's still a card to collect on this level. If I don't keep track while I'm playing I won't know which levels I've gotten a card from already.

It's a platformer, huge shock. I like the Mario 3 style shadows on the background. Not so fond of the way those golden arches keep spinning even when the game's paused though. It's creepy.

I like how it's obvious I'm supposed to pick up that block on the left and plug it in the dotted box on the right to make a moving platform to jump on. Sensible design.

Commodore 64
The C64 version already has the block filled in though. Also the game moves so slowly it's virtually turn based.

I know the poor C64 was ten years old and massively underpowered by 92, but I've seen Shadow of the Beast running on the thing with parallax scrolling. Surely the poor machine can manage running a basic Mario clone.

What the fuck? Why can't I reach the last few arches? I'm pressing the jump button, but it isn't getting me any extra height. I even tried dropping a box on the spring to stand on, but it just fell through and disappeared off the bottom of the screen.

Look at those things, just hanging in the air. Taunting me. Well fine, okay, I can wait. I've got a level select screen, so I can come back here any time I want to get my damn arches. And I WILL get those arches. I swear it.

Oh what? Now there's a golden arches block I can't get to. I can't jump up from beneath it, it's too high up. Which you'd be able to see if the screen bothered to scroll down when I duck.

I've gone around the whole level trying to find a way to reach this block, but I just can't figure it out at all. This is still only the first level too.

Damn, this guy's so addicted to McDonalds food he bleeds arches. Oh damn, he really did just drop some of my arches, my counts gone down. Well at least now I know that I can't jump on enemies.


That's interesting, I just found a spring hidden in a stack of blocks, giving me a way to get up onto those floating tree trunks up there.

Commodore 64
Hey wait a minute, where's my spring? All the other versions had a spring here, why don't you? It's not like the C64 version doesn't have springs, I've seen them on level one.

To be honest, this actually seems like a pretty good game so far. It seems sensibly designed, the music's tolerable, the controls are fine, the character gets around alright.

The only thing that's really annoyed me, is that his aim is terrible. He throws the boxes 45 degrees towards the ground, so hitting enemies with them is more of a hassle than it probably should be.

Atari ST
The Atari ST, Amiga and DOS versions have different music and better graphics compared to the NES, and they seem to fix the aiming. Though they all have their own flaws. For one thing the Atari version seems really slow after playing it on the NES.

Atari ST
Also you've gotta look at this title screen every time you turn it on.

The DOS conversion on the other hand runs fine, and looks pretty good. Which surprised me. It seems a little over sensitive though, as I keep overshooting my jumps. Though that might be because the keys they've gone with are q, a, o, p, and space, with q being jump. Not really the layout I would have chosen, and I can't see an option to redefine them.

And I think the soundtrack is technically the same tunes as you'd hear on the Atari and Amiga versions, but on this it's hard to even tell that it's music. It's actually painful to listen to.

Awesome, I've finally found an arches block I can actually reach! Though knowing my luck it probably just gives me 10 extra arches or something.

So that's how I get the cards. I just need to get to three more arches blocks and I've completed the world. Hey, I could finish this without even visiting all the levels.

Look at that smug little bastard pacing back and forth along the top of this impossible log.

He knows I don't dare go up there without finding a block to throw at him first. Plus he knows that when I get past him he'll spring right back to life the second he's off screen, so if I fall down I'll have to fight him again. Plus he can come back as many times as he has to, but I only have limited boxes to throw. Plus I'll probably miss.

Fortunately on the Amiga version I rarely ever miss. Take that you log roaming rodent.

All this box throwing is reminding me of another game, but I can't quite figure out what it is. Damn that's going to annoy me.

The Amiga has the best sounding music out of the 16-bit versions, colourful gradient backgrounds, and more character to the sprites. On the other hand it feels a bit... floaty and sluggish, and has considerably more clown face on the hud.

Bonus level! Not sure what I did to earn this, and it doesn't much matter because I just slipped off and lost. And hit a box labelled with a moon icon on the way down, changing my character from Mack to Mick. No clue what a moon's got to do with character select.

Okay, so the only reason you sent me out to get those cards was to exchange them with you for information from yourself that I need to be able to do the job you asked me to do.

Remind me to never offer to do you a favour again.

To be honest, I was expecting a boss battle at Birdie's house. But no, she just wants Puzzle Cards. And I need to find five of them before she'll tell me which direction to go next.

Now I know why Ronald didn't just ask any of his friends for help. Ain't nothing free in McDonaldland.

Is that... a cute lil' doggie holding a fake shark's fin and standing on a cloud? Whatever it is, I just totally wasted a box trying to hit it.

Blues Brothers! That's what this reminds me of. It's like a cross between the box throwing gameplay of Blues Brothers and the feel of Super Mario Bros. I even have to find the secret item on each level.

Hey it's a face! The clouds make up the eyebrows, and the floating arches make up the smile, and the... wait, what the hell are those eyes made of? Are those actual eyes, peering out of the sky? Black, soulless eyes...

I'm riding my floating cloud elsewhere.

The Amiga version is way more colourful on this world, but still has the problem of there not being much floor. One misstep and I'm free falling back to the world map, and it's not as easy to get hold of lives up here.

I think I've seen enough of the game now to satisfy my curiosity anyway. Though there's still one thing I need to do.

I restarted the NES game (around 20 seconds to get past the title screen and almost a minute to skip to the start of gameplay in total, I counted this time. It felt longer), and loaded up level one.

Only this time I've looked up what to do to get that arches block, and the precious Puzzle Card within. I just have to run off the ledge, onto those shuriken-looking spiky wheels I was trying to avoid. He spins around and it flips gravity.

Game design tip, don't make important helpful things look like hazards!

Damn, look at that. A spring on the ceiling, pointing down at those arches I couldn't pick up earlier. Well now I know how to get them I can finally turn the game off.

Shameless Advertising Rating: Surprisingly low. You collect Golden Arches, there's arches in the background, arches on blocks, and Ronald McDonald's crew turns up. And that's about it. You don't even collect food for health. I didn't even see any food in the game.

Clown Rating: Moderate. Ronald doesn't show up too often, but he often finds ways to glare at you from the hud. Puzzle Cards seem innocent enough, but as you start to collect them...

He's watching. Always watching.

I've heard some bad things about this game, but it seemed alright to me so far. Maybe I just haven't gotten up to the real game killing flaws yet. I gotta give it my Gold Star though, because I really wouldn't mind playing it some more.

I'll probably stick to the NES or Amiga version next time though.

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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