At long last, the search is finally over. After a saga of searching spanning well over a decade, we can finally rest, for one of the rarest video games of all time has at last been found and showcased to the world. Tonight you can sleep easy, because yes, we have at long last found…the McDonald’s Workers Training video on Nintendo DS…
For those not in the know, during 2010, a series of educational Nintendo DS games were distributed by McDonald’s throughout Japan in order to train employees. The games were all part of the ‘e’ series, ranging from various versions of eSMART and eCrew cartridges that were designed to show employees how to operate machinery and make food in McDonald’s restaurants.
Whilst originally designed & given only to official McDonald’s staff, over the past 10 years, several of these cartridges have made their way into collectors’ hands via eBay and other second-hand stores online. But while the companion cartridge meant for new McDonald’s hires known as the eCrew Development Program was found and shared online in 2020, the eSMART 2.0 cartridge has proved much more troublesome to track down….until now.
An 11-year search began for the elusive cartridge by both collectors and archivists alike, with the cartridge being auctioned several times online, but was always purchased by people who were unwilling to share it with the gaming community.
Finally, after years of searching, the preservationist group ‘Forest of Illusion’ has only just recently acquired the fabled game, but not without cost, as the cartridge ended up being sold for more than just a pretty penny. A whopping ¥300,000 (or around £1,914 pound sterling) was paid at an auction to secure the cartridge and was only possible through the generous donations of additional benefactors.
After backing up its data, Forest of Illusion sent the eSMART 2.0 cartridge to Coddy Trentuit, an enthusiast who had detailed the decade-spanning search for the game on his YouTube channel. After receiving the cartridge, Trentuit then shared a video detailing the entire contents of the game for those who aren’t able to download and play it for themselves.
You can watch the video in full below!
While it’s unlikely that eSMART 2.0 will start toppling lists for the best DS game of all time, it is nevertheless an intriguing slice of gaming history. To see a global company using video games to train and teach their staff is notable, to say the least, as it’s a practice rarely seen elsewhere if at all.
As for the game itself, well….it’s a McDonald’s training software. Through basic pixel-art and even live-action demonstrations, the game teaches you the best practices for making Quarter Pounders, Chicken McNuggets, and more for an onslaught of creepy yet strangely attractive customers. Clearly, the makers of this software were a bit overly-generous in their depictions of McDonald’s patrons, and I say that purely because I’m a member of that patronage, and I will die before I ever get hair as good as customer No.5 (I’ll call her Mambo for now).
Not too dissimilar to other cooking simulators like Cooking Mama (or as I always called it, domestic trauma), the game uses both demonstrations and interactive minigames to teach you to operate the company’s various machinery and tools to produce the incredibly fattening high-salt life-shortening grub that we all know & love; but only because we’ve run out of love for ourselves.
In some ways, this style of training is both manipulative and ingenious. Using a device that employees usually associate with leisure time somewhat takes the burden out of doing work, whilst also having a means of training that allows workers to do conduct it in their own time, and doesn’t contain any awkward acting or terrible music (lest we ever forget the Old Country Buffet Training video).
But regardless of the game’s quality, it is significant and interesting nevertheless that we now have this piece of video game preservation. Besides, who knows? Perhaps hidden within its code are the means to create all of McDonald’s menu from home, meaning we can choose to feel depressed either alone or in public.
In the end, all it took was one unhappy deal in order to bring us this happy meal! What do you think of this bizarre virtual burger saga? Will you be checking out eSMART 2.0? What other obscure training videogames are out there that have yet to be released to the public? Let us know in the comments below!