McDonald’s has released a new Game Boy Color game, bizarrely

Grimace's Birthday title screen

Grimace’s Birthday can be played through a browser, but it can also be downloaded and played on actual Game Boy hardware.


It’s 2023, and there’s a new Game Boy Color game from McDonald’s. Grimace’s Birthday was released on Monday to tie in with a promotion that the fast food outlet is running in the United States, and you can play it in your web browser right here on a lovingly nineties-styled web page.

But you can also download the ROM image of Grimace’s Birthday and play it on an actual Game Boy Color, if you like (or a Game Boy Advance, or Analogue Pocket, or any retro gadget that accepts GBC cartridges).

The release of the game marks a surprise return for Grimace, the purple blob of indeterminate species, who was first created in the early 1970s, but went AWOL from McDonald’s advertising in around 2012. As a child, I always presumed Grimace was something to do with milkshakes, possibly the solid, hairy personification of a shake itself, or maybe even the actual source of milkshakes. This theory seems to have been partly confirmed by the fact that a purple milkshake is one of the Grimace’s Birthday promotional items. Grimace milk?

Grimace’s Birthday has been developed using GB Studio by Gumpy Function, Pearacidic and Krool Toys, who are behind all sorts of wonderful Game Boy creations. Of note, Gumpy Function created a brilliant Game Boy version of My Dinner With André, inspired by a Simpsons joke.

This is far from the first time that McDonald’s has put out a video game. The first was Donald Land, a Japan-only release for the Famicom in 1987, which was followed by M.C. Kids (known as McDonaldland in Europe) and Global Gladiators in 1992. Global Gladiators in particular was very good, and was coded by David Perry, who went on to make Cool Spot and Earthworm Jim. Interestingly, the legendary Japanese developer Treasure made a Mega Drive game called McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure in 1993, at around the same time the studio was working on Gunstar Heroes, and it was far better than it had any right to be.

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