The story is the Hamburglar has stolen Ronald McDonald's bag of magic and ran off with it somewhere. Ronald enlists the aid of two boys, Mick and Mack, and sends them on a quest through McDonald Land to get it back. In order to do so, they have to collect puzzle cards, which are hidden in the various stages. Collecting the puzzle cards will unlock new worlds and stages in order to get more puzzle cards and so on, eventually leading to the Hamburglar's Secret Hideout.
You can choose between Mick and Mack at the beginning of the game, and switch between them by hitting blocks with a crescent moon shaped on them, but both characters don't really play differently from each other with no special abilities or attributes.
The gameplay is very similar to Super Mario Bros. 2 in the idea that enemies can't be stomped, but rather grabbing objects to use as throwable weapons instead, or for other uses, like traversing water or creating platforms. The game also has an alternating two player mode.
This game contains examples of:
- Big Bad: The Hamburglar.
- Bubbly Clouds: Part of Birdie's Treehouse world. The other is a Slippy-Slidey Ice World. Some levels have some sneaky enemies that are obscured by the clouds, and can only be seen by the item they are carrying overhead, forcing Mick and Mack to be a little more cautious.
- Collision Damage: Why everything that moves is dangerous.
- Death Mountain: Grimace's Highlands.
- Directionally Solid Platforms: Much like it's inspiration, it even has directionally solid sand platforms that the characters need to dig through.
- Easter Egg: If you collect every single arch in the three Secret Levels, Ronald will give you infinite lives. Well, at first he'll accidentally "only" give you 100, but when you get down to 94 he'll realize his mistake and give you infinite lives for real. However, due to a bug, the game only recognizes that you've collected every arch in a level if you die afterwards, and not if you clear the level properly. Between this bug and how hard it is to collect every arch in the first place (there's no counter!), this secret went undiscovered for 24 years.
- Everything Trying to Kill You: If it moves, it hurts you. Flowers, Gophers, Birds, spiders, everything is dangerous.
- Final Boss: Surprisingly, It isn't the Hamburglar. It's Ronald's Magic Bag, the very thing you've been seeking. Turns out it broke loose from Hamburglar and is running amok. Mick and Mack have to defeat it in a battle in order to capture it.
- Gangplank Galleon: The Captain's Ship level in Professor's Workshop. Ports' O Comets is similar too.
- Gotta Catch 'Em All: There are a total of thirty puzzle cards to find in the game As well as a secret extra few to unlock the bonus world.
- Green Hill Zone: Ronald's Clubhouse, the first world also mixes this with The Lost Woods.
- Hailfire Peaks: Most of the worlds in the game mix two settings at once.
- Hazardous Water: Stay out of the water, as there is a dangerous piranha enemy that kills the characters instantly.
- Hearts Are Health: You have a heart meter with four hearts.
- Improbable Weapon User: Grabbing blocks and throwing them at enemies is the main method of attack. Along with grabbing dirt, snow, boats, or whatever else you can get your hands on at them.
- Invincible Minor Minion: Fry Kids in CosMc's Retreat can be stunned, but not defeated. The piranha enemy cannot be defeated either.
- Kaizo Trap: A rare deliberate example. In some of the stages, there are fake goal exits that automatically boot the character out of the stage, forcing them to do the level over again.
- Lethal Lava Land: Hamburglar's Hideout is an underground lava cavern.
- Licensed Game: For McDonalds using its McDonaldland characters.
- Market-Based Title: The game was known as McDonaldland in Europe. This was also the name for the home computer ports.
- Macguffin: Ronald's Magic Bag. The Hamburglar has stolen it and it falls upon our heroes to get it back.
- One-Hit KO: The piranha enemy that lurks in the water kills the player instantly regardless of health. Also look out for the tentacle monsters in the level Moon Monsters, who grab the character and suck them in, also killing them instantly.
- Patchwork Map: Professor's Workshop doesn't have a single world theme, but rather mixes several themes at once compared to the other worlds.
- Shifting Sand Land: Dino Dunes and Desert Cove, located in Professor's Workshop world.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The other half of Birdie's Treehouse. Watchout for killer McFlurry men.
- Space Zone: CosMc's Retreat takes place entirely on the moon, with low gravity.
- Tentacle Rope: Be careful jumping over the holes in the Moon Monsters level. Some of them contain giant tentacles that will reach out and grab the player characters, killing them instantly.