While the above headline seems like something a parody account might tweet, it’s true. Fast food chain McDonald’s has really released a Game Boy Color game in honour of Grimace’s 52 birthday.
Grimace’s Birthday, developed by Krool Toys, is playable in a browser on desktop/smartphone and also on the 25-year-old Game Boy Colour (GBC) — or a GBC emulator — through a ROM file. It’s worth noting that to actually play Grimace’s Birthday on the GBC, you’ll, of course, need a flash cartridge of some sort.
To Krool Toys’ credit, the game looks and plays like a classic Game Boy Color title, right down to the iconic 8-bit sound, very pixelated visuals and floaty controls.
Why did McDonald’s release this game? It’s unclear, but like many people my age, I find the level of millennial nostalgia difficult to resist in this very obvious promotional campaign. There are even mid-2000s-inspired ads framing the desktop version of the game tied to ringtones (see above).
In Grimace’s Birthday, the purple monster is throwing a birthday party for himself at a McDonald’s restaurant, but none of his friends have shown up, including McDonald’s’ greatest creation, the Hamburglar. Grimace’s job is to round up his posse before midnight.
The first two levels have Grimace skateboarding around while collecting purple shakes, complete with various tricks (who knew he could shred?), while the later half of the game has the purple mascot running around while still gathering up milkshakes.
The game is designed to promote McDonald’s new Grimace Birthday milkshake, a limited-edition purple-coloured drink that comes with either a Big Mac/fries or a 10-piece McNugget meal.
This entire stunt is reminiscent of Burger King’s promotional Xbox 360 title Sneak King, which featured the fast food chain’s somewhat creepy-looking King mascot surprising people with unwarranted burger deliveries. Along with Sneak King, Burger King also released Big Bumpin’, a bumper cars game, and Pocket Bike Racer, a Mario Kart-like racing title.
In case you’re wondering, all of Burger King’s games were awful, but in the best way possible.
Look, I know I have an ongoing beef with McDonald’s related to hackers buying over $2,000 worth of food from the chain with my credit card back in 2009, but if there’s a clear way back into my good books, it’s by releasing a promotional GBC game (amusingly, I’m just noticing now that Fox News and the New York Post picked up the story).
On a side note, check out this super sick box art someone created for Grimace’s Birthday.