I will confess that this was not planned. Originally, I wished to do Mission Kellogg’s for this month, but it was a hassle to find and when I finally got it to work on my PC, I had so many problems actually running it. Despite the fact that I have dealt with worse before, I was simply fed up after it crashed on me for the fourth time halfway through and decided to tackle another title. If you want my quick thoughts on it, Mission Kellogg’s is something best left forgotten.
To my surprise and luck, however, McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure had a sequel on the GameGear that was only released in Japan. Donald no Magical World was mainly developed by SIMS with Treasure helping out with some aspects, such as with the programming and lending them music and visuals. I already have praised Treasure as one of the best developers ever, but SIMS should also be recognised by those into Sega’s lineage, as they made Ninja Gaiden for the Master System, created Shadow Dancer for the Genesis, and even ported Ristar to the GameGear. However, while it is nothing spectacular, Donald no Magical World was a decent appetiser, despite not reaching the first entry’s heights.
McDonald’s Treasureland Diet
Grimace, the Hamburglar, Birdie, and Ronald are all together hanging out on a nice day, when Grimace, out of nowhere, finds a strange box that clearly says “don’t open”. Of course, despite Birdie saying he should not open it, Grimace gives in to the Hamburglar’s curiosity as he wants to see what is inside, and opens it. Inside, they find a magical piece of paper with something written on it, and a puppet-wizard appearing out of it. The wizard, who is revealed to be named “Joker” later on, “invites” the gang to his magical world and kidnaps Ronald’s friends. Ronald finds a magical umbrella left behind by Joker and sets out to save his friends.
It is cliche and silly, but it is a good enough excuse to set out on an interesting adventure, and you do meet a few interesting characters that were under Joker’s spell. However, the story is only there as a minor setup rather than anything grand, so let’s look at the actual gameplay.
Like its predecessor, Donald no Magical World is a linear platformer where you travel from point A to B and try to get to the exit. At least for the most part. While there is a clear exit for 80% of the stages, with the exceptions being the boss-fights and a couple of conveyor-stages which we will come back to later, you will have to find a key in each stage in order to open a gate so you can get to the exit. This could have created some tiresome backtracking, but the keys are never hidden obscurely, just in a different part of the level, and thus it becomes a rather pointless addition as they are lazily put in.
They do offer new areas to jump around through, but could they not have been incorporated into the stages better in order to make the game have a better flow instead of slight backtracking? In fact, for the levels where you climb up a vertical construction before a bossfight, such as a huge tree or a giant cake, you don’t even need to find a key. It is completely pointless, but at least it does not make the stages poor.
There are sadly other aspects that make the stages into a mixed bag of creative and minimal designs. There is some clever platforming with interesting layouts, such as platforms in the form of moving gears, frogs, or hazards like fireballs jumping from lava. However, with the exception of the vertical stages which adds some diverse setups, the horizontal stages are incredibly easy to get through, and that is because of Ronald’s umbrella. It can be used to attack enemies in front of him with a short swing or above him by simply holding it out, which is a nice touch. However, it can also be used to glide over long distances. This is a neat idea as Ronald only has his jump for platforming, but with the exception of one updraft and a geyser, no stages use this mechanic. Instead, you can skip chunks of levels with ease thanks to this ability as long as they are horizontal. Thankfully, the vertical stages use more diverse platforming and include long gaps or small quirks for the umbrella to be useful, but that makes up about 5 stages across the entire game.
Then we have the minigames that you can play by finding a McDonald-sign. There are only two to tackle, but I am happy that I can choose to not participate in either as they are not fun. The first is a 3 by 3 memory-game where one card is a complete game-over, and the second one has you stacking falling picture-pieces as Ronald with ice-physics, within a restricted time-limit. Since none are entertaining and the game is severely easy with refilling drinks, full-health burgers, and extra-lives everywhere, you have no reason to take on these minigames. There is even a password-system for this 40-minute game and the possibility to extend your maximum health bar, so you should really have all the favors stacked on your side.
It is a shame that the game has so many problems, as the stages have decent concepts and only for two locations did I notice terrible enemy-placement that took a cheap shot. The rest were fine with decent jumps that had to be made and fun enemies that only functioned as obstacles since they take only one hit to kill. Sadly, due to the umbrella’s gliding-ability, it makes every stage a total breeze. This also goes for the one-screen conveyor belt-stages, as they are short-lived and you can easily dodge incoming objects.
Then there are the boss fights, which are complete jokes. You simply need to dodge their attack once and counter-attack until the game shows the cutscene for the next stage. The last 2 bosses were slightly better, but only because you had to dodge and attack multiple times, as they still contained basic patterns. Unfortunately, the overpowered abilities and levels that are between uninspired and scraping the bottom of the creativity barrel, it is hard to not have the game just fly by. Kinda like a quick drive through where you are hungry for anything.
Gameplay Score: 4.5/10
Creative at a smaller aspect
The game is brimming with colors and details, giving the game a pleasant look with a good amount of animations around the stages, such as bubbly lava in the first forest-stage, lit candles with flickering fires in the cake-stage, and more to make these worlds feel alive. I also love how appropriate the enemies are, such as the knights wielding forks in the cake-world and gear creatures in clock-town. The cutscenes are also strong with subtle animations and are common enough to be memorable. There is some product-placement added for the sake of advertisement, but they are luckily not forced on you, and while a ton of assets and enemies are taken straight from the previous game, Donald no Magical World has enough originality to not feel like a direct copy.
Actually, besides the first world that set in a forest with a cave and waterfall, the rest are more creative and even incorporates big-world small-person perspective, such as the cake-world turning into a coffee-house, the gear-world taking you up a clock-tower, or the spooky mansion with ballerina-dancers and haunted pictures. However, despite that there are multiple stages, there are only 4 themes that are tackled: forest, cake, gear, and haunted. While they add some variety, such as the treasure-room in a haunted mansion, the stages do fly by as the game overall is severely short and there aren’t many stages.
The soundtrack is also taken from the first game, with more originality and translated songs for the 8-bit chip. Actually, the emphasis on higher tones and more relaxed tune due to the system’s limitations, makes some older songs sound crisper and more appropriate for this happy-go-lucky soundtrack. There is not much here, but what is here is great and catchy, making for a soundtrack I could have on-the-go for a feel-good day.
Sadly, while there is a clear amount of quality here, stages fly by and the added focus on presentation gets lost in the few stages there are and enemies you encounter, which also goes for the game’s score. It provides great quality, but lacks in quantity. Overall though, it is creative and the game rightfully deserves “magical” in its title. Despite the occasional slowdowns.
Presentation Score: 7.5/10
I had a nice time with Donald no Magical World, but I can’t say it was anything spectacular or even good. I came, saw, got my fill, but was ready to move onto something else. There is a good amount of charm in its presentation, I do like the level design, and the idea behind the umbrella has some nifty potential. Unfortunately, the powers and Ronald’s abilities don’t correlate, and the bosses and minigames are worthless. Like any fast-food shop’s cheap burger, it is nothing grand, but it is worth it if you just want something to fill you slightly.