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February 2014 Retro Gaming Article

February 23, 2014 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Nintendo & McDonald's have taken kids from burgers, toys & Playland game kiosks to wifi at the Golden Arches

McDonalds and Nintendo partnership Partnerships can be as vital to businesses as they are to people. Just as businesses with similar goals can benefit from joining forces, marriage can offer that same advantage to two individuals. However, as divorce rates soar, corporate partnerships don't always have much longevity either. But not always...

Both Nintendo and McDonald's have long histories as family-friendly entities. Ronald McDonald and his crew of campy "food orientated" friends have catered to children via Happy Meals, PlayPlace parties and plastic toys. Nintendo has often been criticized (and wrongly labeled) as a "Kids" game company. While Nintendo does have a family friendly image, they have certainly gone far beyond that demographic to reach a wide array of gamers.

M.C. Kids - Happy Meal Promotion

Virgin's M.C. Kids for Nintendo NES Classic Retro Gaming Video Game Review Regardless of your desires to eat a cheeseburger or swing a wiimote, both of these companies have strong ties with kids. Children are the common denominator that has created a partnership between them since the days of the NES! You may remember Virgin Games M.C. Kids, a side-scrolling adventure game in which a couple of kids help retrieve Ronald McDonald's magic bag that was stolen by the Hamburgler. It's a pretty good game - far more involved than the typical corporate tie-in games. It also had a European release under the name, McDonaldLand.

Originally McDonald's was going to promote the M.C. Kids game via their Happy Meals. Despite some very interesting elements, McDonald's decided against promoting the game and it was sometimes accused of being a SMB copycat. This dispute wasn't centered on Nintendo as much as the game devs, so the gaming/burger relationship marched onward.

Without going into vivid detail, fast food doesn't "agree" with me, so I tend to miss out on many of the video game tie-ins like Happy Meal toys (these from Japan). Nintendo recently announced the inclusion of Super Mario toys in UK Happy Meals! Imagine my surprise when I came across an image of this Nintendo 64 kiosk in a McDonald's playland!

On the few occasions I've visited a McDonald's I've never payed much attention to their indoor play areas. They seemed like a fun thing for kids, but I doubt the McLegal team thinks they're a good idea. however, I imagine the insurance premiums are less than the increased revenue, if that can accurately be quantified. Had I known I could play Nintendo games in these indoor play areas, I might have visited more often!

Nintendo GameCube kiosks in McDonalds I'm accustomed to seeing outdoor playgrounds at some McDonald's locations, but I'd never heard of game kiosks being inside! Above we see GameCube kiosks installed in a McDonalds Playland. Unfortunately, wiping down a table after a family has massacred a meal on it's surface hasn't always carried over to the cleanliness of game kiosks in their play areas. Many posts about Nintendo kiosks at McDonald's mention the filthy screens and controllers encrusted with post-meal sludge. Most of these posts concluded that game kiosks in McDonald's were pretty cool, but so disgusting that they didn't want to touch them.

Ronald McDonald cosplay

Nintendo Zones at the Golden Arches

Today, Nintendo Zones provide complimentary Wi-Fi access for the Nintendo 3DS family of handheld game systems at over over 29,000 locations. They let you access all the standard Wi-Fi features the system offers (eShop, Internet browser, SpotPass, etc), as well as exclusive content available only from these locations - watch 3D videos, full length animations, play demos and trivia challenges, and retailer promotions & coupons.

If you view the Nintendo 3DS Zone locator you'll find a variety of participating stores and restaurants including McDonald's. I believe the last kiosks physically installed in McDonald's restaurants contained Wii hardware. These days, "Nintendo Zones" at McDonald's are simply wifi access points for their handheld systems.

If you doubt the power of the Nintendo/McDonald's partnership, just remember that some folks want to cosplay as McDonald's legendary clown!

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