"I remember McDonalds absolutely hated it" designer Dave Perry recalls. "'Where's Ronald McDonald?' they asked. 'Why can't the player go into McDonald's and buy a burger with fries?'" Evidently, to appease the sponsor, Ronald McDonald was added to the end of each state waving a chequer flag, even though there's no narrative justification for him to be doing that.
The developers claimed at the time that this was "over ten times more than ever seen before". There's a continued sense of motion when playing the game, with water sparkling, sludge burping, and invisible discs shimmering when stepped upon. 'Castle of Illusion' made the idle animation a necessity in games, so accordingly Mick and Mack never keep still even when the controller isn't pressed. With their Super Soaker a-like Goo Shooters and baseball caps, they are clearly products of Nineties designers but that doesn't stop them looking great today.
Similarly the levels seem to only be different from one and other cosmetically. Once you've played the first stage, with the games best music, you've really seen the best the game has to offer. There's is only one end of World boss in the entire game and that's on the last level. It is an unspectacular pushover, matched only by the game’s equally unspectacular ending. 'global Gladiators' starts off tasty and interesting, but the longer it goes on the more bored you get experiencing the same thing.
This mini game is not the only thing intriguing about the options menu though. Along with offering the typical music test and difficulty selection, it also gives you the ability to select a character. Despite having two characters prominent on the box 'Global Gladiators' is a one-player game. Both characters are functionally identical with the same abilities, but there's a noticeable visual difference - one is black the other white. It's to its credit that 'Global Gladiators' is one of a handful of 16-bit games with a default non-white protagonist. Perhaps Dave Perry was making a subtle social point, maybe it was at the request of McDonalds to maximise audience appeal. Regardless it's nice that having a black protagonist is understated rather than used as a cynical marketing tool. Like the corporate sponsor and the environment commentary it's there should you look for it. However the game never preaches or lectures and (apart from the title screen) doesn't do a hard sell. As critic Tim Tucker once said "forget any political correctness factors, McDonald’s aversions or platform fatigue and just concentrate on enjoying this fabulous romp."