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Treasure Master Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 10%
Treasure Master
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  • Review Score:

  • D-
You would think that having fun playing a video game would be prize enough for most people. But in 1993, American Softworks decided to up the ante by giving away more than 36,000 prizes. The result was Treasure Master, a 2D platformer with big ambitions and an MTV sponsorship. Unfortunately, not even winning the $10,000 prize package is enough to make Treasure Master worth playing.

You play Skooter (or, if you're paying attention to the advertising, Scooter), a young boy who is off on a large scavenger hunter. After finding a mysterious foreign coin, Skooter learns about the "Legend of the Treasure Master." As it turns out, there's a large prize out there for the taking, and this is just the hero to finally tackle this centuries-old challenge.


What sets Treasure Master apart from Super Mario Bros. and other platformers of the era is its use of a large open world. Each level takes place in a large environment that go up and down multiple screens. In the first level alone you can climb high above the ground or swim with the sharks below the surface. You'll have to explore every inch of these stages for hidden treasure and items that will aid you on your quest for the ultimate prize.

Through six large stages, Treasure Master has you dodging enemies and picking up useful items. Don't let the deceptively normal surroundings of the first stage fool you, Skooter's adventure is going to take him all over the world ... and beyond. In fact, the second stage sees our hero blast off into space and look for hidden treasure on the moon. Other stages seem to be built around tools and carnivals, making for an incredibly random mishmash of stage designs.

Treasure Master (NES)

No matter where you are, your goal is to pick up as many items as you can. Sometimes you'll pilot vehicles, other times you'll find these objects just from walking around. Scissors, bombs, weights, arrows, lasers, keys and other helpful items are tucked away in hard to reach locations. You'll spend much of the adventure simply searching every nook and cranny for something useful.

Unfortunately, it's not always clear when and where you're supposed to use each of these items. Usually this results in you aimlessly walking around trying to figure out what to do next. However, some of the game's trial and error can result in some frustrating and unfair deaths. One early situation has you jumping several screens into the air, only to hit a ceiling of spikes. There's no way to avoid this obstacle and all it takes is one hit and you're toast. The solution is to wear the hardhat, but if you haven't already found that object you will spend the rest of your lives thinking it's a platforming puzzle.

Treasure Master (NES)

A lot of these frustrating deaths could have been resolved with the simple placement of a sign. Warn me that there's a section that requires a hardhat, that way I know what it is I'm supposed to be looking for. But no, the game doesn't want you to know, it expects you to play through these levels so many times that you'll eventually figure it out.

The only way I envision Treasure Master being fun is if you truly believe there's a $10,000 prize at the end of the ordeal. That's just about the only way you can justify the poor visuals, frustrating difficulty and bad gameplay. Without that, you're left with a sub-par action game with nonsensical puzzles. This isn't a teaching tool, it's a torture devise. No matter how old it is, a game shouldn't have to bribe you to have fun.
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