You play as a nameless protagonist who explores different worlds. The gameplay revolves around collecting items and gathering treasures. Some of the items serve a practical purpose, like bombs that blow away barriers, or a remote control that operates machinery, to allow access to other parts of the level. The hero can also use different gadgets and equipment that enhances his abilities.
The game was released to coincide with an actual contest held by MTV. Players received a special code to unlock the sixth and final level, and had several months to practice beating the game until April 11th, 1992, at which point they had until midnight to beat the game as well as the secret world. At which point they would receive a 24-character code that could be entered by calling the special hotline, and players would receive on of the many 36,000+ prizes. With the contest's days long since passed however, Treasure Master still has enough gameplay on its own to stand out. An exciting soundtrack done by renowned chiptune composer Tim Follin helps out a lot with keeping its relevance.
This game contains examples of:
- 1-Up: Collecting upper bodies of yourself grants an extra life.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Numerous giant bugs are your enemies. Caterpillars and flies appear in the first level.
- Green Hill Zone: The First Level takes place in a grassy plain region. With pretty basic enemies and obstacles.
- Literal Ass-Kicking: The hero's standard attack is a short ranged kick. Kick the mess out of enemies.
- No Fair Cheating: The game will lock up if it detects any Game Genie codes being used, obviously to prevent people from cheating at the contest. Can be bypassed with the code AEUVUSEY, however.
- Inconveniently-Placed Conveyor Belt: World 1 has conveyor belts at seemingly random places. There are also head-on conveyor belts that push the player downwards.
- Oxygen Meter: The hero can swim but can't stay underwater for very long. To get to the underwater prizes, he has to utilize a submarine.
- Space Zone: The second world takes place on the Moon, accessed by riding the Rocket at the end of Level 1.
- Seesaw Catapult: World 1 has a seesaw in one of the locations. Player needs to figure out how to get an enemy to jump on it to launch you in the air.
- Spikes of Doom: Spikes make up one of the deadly hazards to be avoided. Equipping a help protects against ceiling-mounted spikes.
- Springs, Springs Everywhere: The game features springboards that launch player high into the air.
- Trip to the Moon Plot: The hero boards a rocket to the Moon, which is the second main world.
- Totally Radical: As was the case of time period of the time. The protagonist looks like a Surfer Dude who walks with an unusually hip walk cycle.
- Uncommon Time: World 3 and 5 theme crossfades into 17/8 time signature.