(NES)

M.C. Kids (NES)

Game Review

M.C. Kids Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Darrell Monti

A super-sized side-scrolling McVenture

The time from 1990 to 1994 was the golden age of games as starring vehicles for junk food mascots. Few remember, but some will never forget, the convoluted, hyper-caloric brilliance of Yo! Noid, Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool, and Cool Spot. Of the myriad snack-hocking titles, however, the super-sized, special sauce-soaked, Big Mac-Daddy of them all is unquestionably Virgin Interactive’s M.C. Kids.

Featuring cameos by most of the beloved McDonald’s characters – with the unfortunate omission of Mayor McCheese, Officer Big Mac, and the hapless Filet-O-Fish-repping Captain Crook – the platformer sends two feebly hip-hop-styled kids, Mick and Mack, on a whirlwind adventure through McDonaldland. On the trail of Ronald McDonald’s magic bag (purloined, of course, by America’s favourite fast-food kleptomaniac, the Hamburglar), the duo use all their swagger and street cred to collect hidden puzzle cards throughout seven epileptically vibrant worlds: Ronald’s Clubhouse, Birdie’s Treehouse, Grimace’s Highlands (who knew the big purple oaf was Scottish?), the Professor’s Workshop, CosMC’s Retreat on the moon, and a final McShowdown in Hamburglar’s Hideout in the belly of an active volcano.

M.C. Kids features optional one or two player modes, with Super Mario Bros. 3-style player swapping once a level is completed or a player dies. Both Mick and Mack have identical move lists and although gameplay-wise there is zero difference between the two, Mack is preferable with that irresistible Kid N’ Play-esque hi-top fade. In bonus stages, players also have the ability to hit a special block with moon icon to toggle between Mick and Mack to curb any “who gets to be who” bickering.

The action is typical for a side-scroller, with the kids proceeding through relatively short stages by running, jumping, ducking, and vanquishing baddies by hoisting and hurling blocks at them (à la the Super Mario Bros. 2 radishes). The controls are adequately responsive, although jumping is a trifle awkward as the boys have taken a page out of Luigi’s playbook with the frantic, wobbly air running that makes precise landings problematic. The inability to jump on enemies can be counterintuitive for the classic gamer and spells trouble for those who fail to economise their throwing blocks.

However, there are also a few fun and original elements to the otherwise standard gameplay: springy trampolines, spinner blocks that invert gravity and allow the player to traverse the level upside-down, counter-directional blocks that send you hurtling back to the beginning of the level, magical warp zippers, and epically bouncy mega-trampolines that launch players holding blocks to the top of the screen with a supremely gratifying “DA-DOING”.

The difficulty of the average M.C. Kids stage ranges between a patronising cinch and a sadistic exercise in futility, with little room in between. The cutesy-poo adversaries will rarely damage even the novice player, yet power-ups are near impossible to come by and ultra-vertical levels make it hard to gauge whether or not you’re leaping to your doom. Similarly, locating the hidden puzzle cards that must be collected in order to advance to the next world is often as simple as looking up, but at times it is an unfair, more than half-hour egg hunt from Hell. The abundant extra lives help compensate for the extreme trial-and-error nature of the game, but they are far too easy to find. The bonus stages that occur after you collect 100 Golden Arches furnish you with a solid four or five extra lives and the ability to revisit completed stages ad infinitum allows for cheesy 1-Up stockpiling.

Like any self-respecting final level, Hamburglar’s Hideout cranks up the heat. However, it’s a jarring, zero-to-sixty quickening featuring a nightmarishly tricky ride over lava on a platform (in all likelihood designed by some deranged Aleister Crowley disciple) that players steer by pressing the D-Pad in the direction opposite of the way in which they want to go. It's very likely that nobody, with the possible exception of a patient with a rare form of thumb dyslexia, can beat this level in under ten tries. Parental groups have long criticised McDonald’s for using its characters to sell children unhealthy food that leads to obesity, but getting stuck on this merciless level will definitely give its fair share of kids incentive to get up and play outside.

The generally uneven difficulty level leaves M.C. Kids a shade below some of its NES side-scrolling adventure contemporaries like the Adventure Island and Super Mario Bros. series. In addition, the disappointing absence of boss and mini-boss battles can diminish a player’s overall sense of accomplishment. Even when you reach the Hamburglar, a pretty obvious opportunity for confrontation, he just leaps about and screams “Robble help! Robble magic bag robble escaped!” and the kids just continue on their quest for the bag: an egregious miscarriage of McJustice. If someone stole your most prized possession and you caught up with them, you wouldn’t let them off the hook simply because they had adorable buck teeth and a speech impediment.

Conclusion

Despite these shortcomings, the colourful graphics, imaginative Sid and Marty Kroft-esque level and enemy design, innovative game physics, and exceptionally jocular score make M.C. Kids worthy of at least one or two full playthroughs. At the very least, the conclusion of each level with a bodacious airborne high-five between Mick and Mack should trigger a hint of a Ronald McDonald smile in the most cynical gamer. Its aforementioned faults, however, make for a slightly above average but overall mediocre experience.

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User Comments (45)

Zach

#1

Zach said:

Great read. The incredible soundtrack is still one of my favorites to this day. Welcome to Nintendo Life, Darrell!

Bass_X0

#2

Bass_X0 said:

I quite liked this game. Sure it wasn't perfect and I hated those difficult later levels but it was fun.

edhe

#3

edhe said:

I remember hearing about this game in my youth - I think either I read about it in a gamesmaster magazine, a game genie booklet or somwhere else.

But that screenshot at the top (the header) is very sinister.

LuWiiGi

#4

LuWiiGi said:

Great review, new guy. :) By the way, I read somewhere that Yo! Noid is unbelievably difficult.

Link79

#6

Link79 said:

I remember this game! Rented it once when I was about ten.
I actually liked it too. I Almost wouldn't mind playing it again just for a laugh.
This makes me feel really old.

WaveWarlock

#7

WaveWarlock said:

I never really liked this game as a kid :p
It just felt like a second rate hammy platformer...Oh wait.
But the awesome High fivin' at the end of each level was too mondo-rad to handle!

ECM

#8

ECM said:

I remember the ad being very strange for the type of game they were selling: the mohawked programmer pitching the game to the 'hardcore' of the era, in EGM and the like. (IIRC, and it's been a while, his name was Darren Bartlett or somesuch.)

WanderFan91

#12

WanderFan91 said:

Welcome to NintendoLife, Darrell, and good review. :)
But you forgot one detail (although it's so minor, that I understand how you would not talk about it): if you press Select while the game is paused, you die! To this day I still don't understand why that is.
Cool Spot is a very cool, great game, but short.

SilverBaretta

#16

SilverBaretta said:

I would agree with the score and all the points you mentioned, Darrell. While it's definitely playable, it was a little too inconsistant with difficulty. Great first review!

WanderFan91

#17

WanderFan91 said:

I really do like the soundtrack, and I like how it has unlimited continues (like Blaster Master). :) The only downside is that if you do use up a continue, you have to start the world you were currently at all over again.

Xiao_Pai

#18

Xiao_Pai said:

Eh, I was a child back then so me and my sister thought it was awesome or something. xD

Terra

#19

Terra said:

This is the only other game I have for my NES apart from the Duck Hunt/SMB Doublepack. It's quite fun at times

ogo79

#20

ogo79 said:

2 children looking for ronalds bag eh?
never trust a clown...
but seriously this game does look cool and good review

MasterGraveheart

#21

MasterGraveheart said:

This was a fun game. I was never a big fan of the concept of that sick freak Ronald asking a couple of unsuspecting kids to find his bag of halucinagenic drugs, but I enjoyed it generally.

Personally, though, I held out waiting for Wendy's Tournament Fighter.

TKOWL

#22

TKOWL said:

I agree that it's a fine game. Better than most of the licensed crap that was released on the NES.

SwerdMurd

#23

SwerdMurd said:

lol this looks kinda fun--totally didn't remember this game. Now to track it down.

/high-fives google

HanuKwanzMasBif

#24

HanuKwanzMasBif said:

This a surprisingly good game. Even the AVGN (yes, I watched a few episodes, and yes, I'm ashamed to have) didn't completely despise it.
Considering the rest of the review, I don't know why in the end you gave it a six. The way you put made me think a seven at least.

WanderFan91

#25

WanderFan91 said:

This game was released back in the days when Birdie, Grimace, and the Hamburglar were still in commission.

North99

#27

North99 said:

This game brings back great memories :)
Even if there are some seriously creepy moments to go back and play it as an adult.

Noire

#28

Noire said:

The only one I remember is Cool Spot... wtf was up with that anyways...

WanderFan91

#29

WanderFan91 said:

I remember that I once saw an SNES copy of Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool at GameStop seven-eight years ago. I'm surprised he actually existed back in the '90s, as I had recognized the cheetah from the box art from those commercials I've seen around that time (2002 onward, just to avoid the confusion, 'cause we don't want that). One day I'll have to try that game, as now I'm interested.
I need to beat this game.

BulbasaurusRex

#30

BulbasaurusRex said:

You'd think that Ronald would be capable of getting his bag back himself rather than sending a couple of kids through those dangerous worlds.

Vinsanity

#32

Vinsanity said:

I always got this confused with McDonald's Treasureland Adventure for the Genesis. Not the games really - I just thought that THIS game was the one made by Treasure. I'm surprised that its made by Virgin actually, but no matter. MC Kids is rad. Treasureland ain't bad either - its clearly a modification of Dynamite Headdy, after all :D

Why doesn't McDonalds license out their characters to good developers anymore? Especially with Burgerking doing some Xbox 360 games this generation.

Vinsanity

#33

Vinsanity said:

Oh also, Nintendolife - is it, like an anniversary for MCKids or something? Game Informer's Replay for this week was a one-two punch of McDonald's Treasureland and then the Replay Roulette for M.C. Kids.

Also, how come no one ever made a Mac Tonight game? I loved that creepy moon as a kid...

LordJumpMad

#35

LordJumpMad said:

Yeah, there nothing Creepy about Ronald McDonald, being around two little kids.
That why it was a great game., and should be on Remade by Square enix

JebbyDeringer

#37

JebbyDeringer said:

Chester Cheetah was an ok game back in the day. Cool Spot was also fun. You forgot about Fido-Dido the Pepsi (i believe) mascot for a short time. I don't think I played the game though.

PSICOffee

#38

PSICOffee said:

This game is on my list of 30 or so NES games I still have to get that I want. That cover art is rad (like the vegan police in Scott Pilgrim). Also it still looks like a pretty damn fun platformer, and seeing as its my favorite genre, I can't let it pass by.

SonicMaster

#40

SonicMaster said:

That banner pic- "Hello, little boy, would you like to come with me and have some fun?" D:
:D

ogo79

#42

ogo79 said:

theres also a sequel from sega genesis called Mick & Mack as the Global Gladiators...

Zach

#43

Zach said:

@oldgamesonly Thanks for the link! "You needed to find a magic card. If you didn’t find the magic card in the level you hadn’t accomplished anything. (An idea that is now used in Mario 64 so you could say they took the idea from us!)" -- I love stuff like that.

ogo79

#44

ogo79 said:

@zkaplan
no problem
this is all i do when im not busy, research
everyday and all weekend long lol
and i love this site.
check out mine in my profile

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