The Best Music Ever Made (For A McDonald’s Game)

Image: Sega / Treasure / McDonald's / MobyGames / Kotaku

Welcome to Morning Music, Kotaku’s ongoing hangout for folks who love video games and the cool-ass sounds they make. You deserve a break today, so we’re kicking off the weekend with something tasty from McDonald’s… McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure that is, a game that plays and sounds better than a licensed platformer has any right to.

Which came first, Treasure’s classic side-scrolling platforming adventure Gunstar Heroes, or its side-scrolling McDonald’s marketing adventure Treasure Land Adventure (playlist / longplay)? The answer is a little complicated. When fledgling developer Treasure, formed of former Konami employees, approached Sega with the idea for Gunstar Heroes, it was initially shot down.

Instead, Sega tapped the studio to create a game based on McDonald’s “McDonaldland” marketing campaign. Treasure worked on both games simultaneously, sharing employees between the two. Though work on McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure wrapped up first, the studio released Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis before the restaurant tie-in, to ensure its first game was an original work.

Thanks to this plucky new developer out to prove itself, we wound up with one of finest advergames of the 16-bit era. McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure is an astoundingly good Sega Genesis game, a colorful trip with large, beefy sprites. Ronald McDonald journeys through four different zones on a quest to recover map pieces leading to some sort of treasure. And, thanks to Gunstar Heroes composer Katsuhiko “Nazo²” Suzuki pulling double duty, it’s got some outstanding 16-bit music to go with those fries.

First let’s listen to the music from the game’s “Forest” stage. This is the tune players hear when they first gain control of Mr. McDonald. Imagine what that moment might sound like. I bet the song in your head sounds nothing like this:

Treasure / PunkSucks DiscosStupid (YouTube)

It’s so vibrant and dynamic. It jumps and rolls and trills, making the most of the Genesis’ Yamaha YM2612 six-channel synthesizer. The scale of the song surprises me every time I listen to it. This should not be a tune for a McDonald’s tie-in, yet here we are.

Treasure / PunkSucks DiscosStupid (YouTube)

And then we’re on an “Alien Ship,” where we’re surprised by this strange bit of future old-school rock-and-roll, combining familiar rhythms and electronic instruments with odd beeps and boops. Around 1:10 we get what’s almost a wailing guitar solo, or the best approximation of one the synth can pull off. It’s so unexpected, and then it returns with a vengeance in the game’s “Final Boss” battle.

Treasure / PunkSucks DiscosStupid (YouTube)

That’s about as metal as anything officially starring Ronald McDonald is going to get. The virtual strings get shredded, the synth dances, and whatever Ronald is fighting gets its ass totally kicked. Let’s see what this boss looks like.

Treasure / NintendoComplete (YouTube)

Okay, maybe the music is a bit more energetic than the action. The point is it’s not just good McDonald’s video game music. It’s good video game music, period. Exclamation point. Shamrock shake.

Did you enjoy today’s music? Don’t know about you folks, but I’m lovin’ it. Also, I am suddenly very hungry. While I go eat, feel free to share your music or breakfast suggestions in the comments.


Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.


Obsidian Ox

Wow. I didn’t know this game existed, let alone being made by Treasure. Thanks for bringing this up. With that said, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree that it has the best music for a McDonald’s game. I’m going to have to give that to Mick and Mack: Global Gladiators composed by my man Tommy Tallarico of Video Games Live fame.  It jams pretty hard.

Funny story of how I met my wife. We were chatting, getting to know one another after meeting on eharmony. I tell her I’m a bit of a hardcore gamer, and she says,I bet you don’t know of a game called Cool Spot. I remember it having some really good music.” I said, “Not only do I know that game, the composer’s name is Tommy Tallarico, and we’re going to his concert in two weeks.” Our second date was going to Video Games Live in Fort Worth, TX. We just celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this year. Not sure how that relates to your post. Just saying, man knows a thing or two about music.