MCDONALD'S TREASURELAND ADVENTURE / Sega / Genesis
Hungry to establish themselves as a publisher after splitting from Konami, Treasure put in serious work on one of their first independent titles -- a McDonalds licensed platformer. Not caring that 90% or more of gamers would bypass the thing just because it had McDonalds on the cover, the Treasure team labored in the trenches to create this colorful, imaginative platformer that is one of the more enjoyable on the Genesis, at least up to a point.
The setup is that Ronald bumbles into part of a treasure map while wandering the woods one day. In spite of his company being worth $61 billion, Ronald's greedy ass immediately decides to grab up the other parts and take the treasure for himself. Apparently three "bad guys" each have one of the remaining pieces, but given McDonalds PR I bet they're just innocent forest dwellers trying to protect themselves from Ronald's rapacious ways. I mean, the second one bawls like a baby after you beat him.
Speaking of treasure, the only real setback to this one is Treasure's typical "let's emphasize being cute over carefully balancing the gameplay and not throwing the player into unintuitive and frustrating sequences suddenly" design philosophy. The default "beginner" mode starts out appropriately kid-friendly, but by level 3 you'll be tearing out your hair at some of the cheap jumps that require you to know what's coming to be in the right place. It will also probably take awhile (for those who didn't read it like you're doing now) to figure out that the only time you can hit bosses is after they've sucked out one of your health gems and are chewing on it. The game eventually lost me at this inexplicable segment with seemingly infinitely respawning penguins on a boat -- there's just no clear indication what the hell you're supposed to do to make the game move on from here! Dream logic is bad enough in adventure games, it really has no business being anywhere near fast-paced platformers.
Treasure Adventure makes great use of the limited Genesis color palette for vibrant graphics, and it's an early example of the "thrill ride" style that Treasure would come to be known for, where you never know what hardware-pushing twist is around the corner. It's really fitting as a first project for the company (Gunstar Heroes came out before it but this one went into development first) as it's a microcosm of both the good and bad of nearly all their platformers; the technical prowess and creativity marred by simply dumping any old idea into the game without a firm editorial vision making sure everything actually plays well and fits together properly.