Tag Archives: mickey mouse

FGC #483 Fantasia

Wake up!How bad does a game have to be for Disney to wipe it from existence?

Fantasia is an action platformer game for Sega Genesis that was released in 1991, roughly fifty years after the release of the original Fantasia film. Presumably commissioned thanks to the success of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, Mickey is the star of the show, as the “sorcerer’s apprentice” has to travel through four levels to collect some music notes that were lost thanks to a malevolent force that no one decided to actually program into the game. Blame invisible music thieves. Mickey predominantly is stuck tackling enemies with a jump attack, but he also has strong and weak magical spells that are about as plentiful as Mario’s P-Wings. Most of the stages are horizontally scrolling affairs (one is vertical), and the general challenge of the game comes from avoiding enemies with largely predictable patterns. Aside from a few moving platforms and attendant “trap” floors, that’s all there really is to Fantasia. It’s a pre-Sonic the Hedgehog Sega Genesis platforming game. Nobody was expecting The Epic of Mickey here.

But how did this wind up being a game that Disney demanded be destroyed?

Well, if you sit down and play Fantasia, you’re immediately faced with the simple fact that this game is a bear to actually play. Right from the start, the screen is obscured for arbitrary reasons, and that transforms even the most basic platforming from “fun” to “mouseicide”. There’s also a pretty dreadful knock-back/invincibility window going on here, so making it past the first screen requires a little practice, left alone surviving the later levels that actively take place in Hell (excuse me, “Bald Mountain”). Magic is in short supply (not a metaphor), and Mickey always feels underequipped to deal with the monsters du jour. And speaking of monsters, practically everything takes up way too much screen real estate, so even a successful dodge or two usually ends with a third, initially unseen monster taking the sorcerer’s apprentice down a peg.

This is boringAnd the worst part? Some levels are going to have to be repeated forever. The goal of this game is to collect a number of missing musical notes that have been scattered across four elemental-themed levels. And, unfortunately, this is not the kind of platformer where every lost note is simply waiting at the end of a stage like a Toad waiting to inform Mario he got some bad princess intel. No, this is a game where you have to actively search for and collect every last (or at least the majority of) doodad. It’s a collectathon before collectathons ever came into style! And, while that might be an interesting bit of “prehistory” in any other game, in Fantasia, the concept of a “collectathon” isn’t ironed out well enough to be actually playable. The issue? If you don’t collect enough of the hidden musical notes in an area, you have to repeat the whole of the level. It’s essentially the same failure state you’d see after having to choose “continue” in Mega Man or alike, and, given this was back in the old days of vaguely non-verbal titles, there is very little indication as to why you have to repeat a level. And, for that matter, no additional “clues” or hints are given to aid you in finding those missing notes, so it’s very likely you could be stuck repeating a level over and over again with no real idea why. And, while it may seem silly to think that you could unknowingly be stuck in an infinite loop in the year of our virus 2020, consider that this was a game intended for Disney-loving children in 1991, a year with titles like Captain Commando, where your only goal is “go right and hit things”. Why would Mickey Mouse have goals more lofty than a future cyborg and his mech-riding baby pal?

But if you think that is reason enough for Disney to permanently cancel a videogame, think again. Disney already had its fair share of stinkers across gaming by 1991 (we do not discuss Mickey Mousecapade and a weeping Wee Goggle Bob on this blog), and it’s not like Disney would stop its lousy videogame output and prevent the eventual borderline sex-crime that was Disney’s Tarzan Untamed. Glub glubFor every Ducktales or Aladdin in Disney’s oeuvre, there’s a Timon & Pumbaa’s Jungle Games or Toy Story Racer. There are some abhorrent Disney titles out there, so why was Fantasia singled out as a game Disney decided could no longer be produced, and must be recalled. What made the badness of Fantasia so damn bad?

And, as ever, it comes down to nepotism. Disney’s Fantasia was not recalled because it was a terrible game, it was recalled because someone was afraid they had pissed off daddy.

Or at least his uncle.

In 1991, Roy Edward Disney was an executive at Disney. This was because, as of his birth, Roy was the nephew of Walt Disney (and the son of Roy Oliver Disney, who was probably also related to somebody). Roy’s history with the Disney corporation is long and complicated. He was the obvious successor to good ol’ Walt, but Disney also had a series of… let’s call them “issues” after Walt’s retirement/cryogenic freezing. Roy practically resigned in ‘84 due to Disney selling out to The Man, but when investors attempted a hostile takeover of what was left shortly thereafter, he organized a “Save Disney” campaign that involved a number of “good” investors rescuing the animated heart of Disney. And aren’t we all glad Roy saved Disney from becoming some soulless, massive corporation beholden only to stockholders? From there, many look to Roy E. Disney as the man responsible for Disney’s 80s/90s renaissance period… Assuming they’re not crediting Jeffrey Katzenberg, which wound up being a whole “thing” for Roy, and eventually was theoretically a significant reason for Katzenberg resigning. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows in Disney town! But Roy did theoretically go out on a high note, as his final project saw release and general acclaim: Fantasia 2000.

This is frighteningApparently Roy was a big fan of the original film Fantasia, and believed it to be a huge part of his uncle’s legacy. This made a certain amount of sense, as Walt Disney himself considered Fantasia to be one of his greatest masterpieces. And, by all accounts, it was! Fantasia is unlike anything that has ever appeared in animated features before or since, and the level of craft and detail on display is plain to see to even the most jaded audience that may or may not appreciate dancing hippos. And, while the movie as a whole doesn’t naturally lend itself to platforming hijinks, it is the kind of film that could equally be enjoyed by a toddler as an octogenarian. You still have to be in the mood to survive a visit from Chernabog, but otherwise, it is pretty close to being a perfect movie. It’s the Citizen Kane of movies featuring racist centaurs!

So you can understand how a situation wherein Walt Disney told his nephew, “Please never make crappy licensed merchandise based on Fantasia,” would have happened. And you could see how, when Roy Disney was faced with how absolutely atrocious Fantasia for the Sega Genesis turned out to be, he immediately recollected this statement, and threw the game under the bus with the explanation that there had been a “misunderstanding” regarding what properties were allowed to have games. And that’s why, despite the fact that Fantasia appears to be in literally everyone’s Sega Genesis lot on Ebay, Fantasia is historically one of the few Sega Genesis titles to be outright recalled. Roy didn’t want to offend Walt’s frosty ghost, and Fantasia was destroyed for the good of the Disney brand.

And that’s why, thanks to Walt’s dire warnings about never licensing Fantasia for any reason, there was never again a lousy videogame bearing the name Fantasia.

Kinect again!

Oh son of a bitch.

FGC #483 Fantasia

  • System: Sega Genesis alone for this one. There are some other good Mickey games on Genesis, and a trio of excellent ones on the Super Nintendo, but Fantasia doesn’t come anywhere close to good, and is sequestered to the Genesis.
  • Number of players: One Mickey, and he isn’t particularly hidden.
  • Great Injustice: Bald Mountain is the final area, but the one and only Chernobog is nowhere to be found. Maybe this is why Nomura eventually had to wedge that fight into a couple of better-known videogames.
  • Jurassic BeatFavorite Level: There are only four, and I have a hard time picking a favorite. Not because they’re all that great, but simply because they’re all on varying levels of horrible. Level one has way too many (required) concealed areas hiding in esoteric spots. Level three’s vertical scrolling is awful paired with Mickey’s limited life bar. Level Four is just a grueling gauntlet of way too many monsters at once. I suppose Level Two, the “earth” stage, is the winner for simply being the most… forgettable.
  • Did you know? This game uses music from Fantasia, which is predominantly from classic musicians. And the instruction manual lists the composers for all those classic songs. And that’s pretty great for a time period that barely acknowledged videogames even had music composers.
  • Would I play again: Not for all the films locked in the Disney Vault. There are so many better, less outlawed games to play.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Mr. Do! Arcade Classic for the Super Nintendo. I bet he’s going to do… uh… something? Please look forward to it!

I'm finished!

Kingdom Hearts FAQ #15: Re Mind and DLC

So Kingdom Hearts 3: Re⏀Mind is DLC that is now available. What’s KH’s first DLC like?

I refuse to answer a question that comes from an incorrect premise.

Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, Goggle Bob?

In a way, Kingdom Hearts has never not had DLC. The original Kingdom Hearts (1) had three different versions before we ever saw a sequel. It started with OG Japanese Kingdom Hearts, and then graduated to Kingdom Hearts: USA Version. Yes, in the original version of Kingdom Hearts, there was no Sephiroth, no sequel-teasing special movie, and a distinct lack of Kurt Zisa (don’t ask). This inevitably led to Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix, a Japanese version of the game that included all of the American content, a handful of new enemies/challenges, a smattering of mute cutscenes, and, most importantly, a secret boss and secret reports that more distinctly alluded to plot points of Kingdom Hearts 2, then still three years away from release. Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix even set the standard of sticking the next game’s final boss in a nondescript coat, and turning him (inevitably “him”) into a super difficult, super confusing battle. Yes! It was “DLC” that established KH’s love of zippered coats!

Wow! DLC in the bygone year of 2002? Wasn’t that pretty great?

Slice 'n DiceHell no. Unfortunately, this was the bad ol’ days of “full game ‘DLC’” releases (see also: Devil May Cry 3). If you wanted to see any of the new content (or, at least, any of the content that was actually worthwhile), you had to replay the game from scratch again, because every new version was technically a whole new game. It didn’t matter if you had a Level 100 Sora in Kingdom Hearts, you needed to grind all over again in Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix. No way you’re going to conquer that “bonus content” otherwise…

So you’re saying no one responsible for the Persona series’ last three entries ever suffered through Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix?

Yep. More’s the pity.

But at least you got more Kingdom Hearts content!

Well, not so much, either. Kingdom Hearts: Final Mix was initially never released outside Japan, so if you wanted that “Kingdom Hearts DLC”, say, because you were a bored college student sinking fast in the merit-based quagmire of the American educational system and you required Kingdom Hearts to bring your life meaning, you were pretty much out of luck unless you wanted to learn Japanese and pay exorbitant import fees.

Well, at least that only happened to Kingdom Hearts 1… Right?

Nope! Kingdom Hearts 2 had a similar trajectory. In fact, Kingdom Hearts 2: Final Mix had an even more alluring collection of “DLC”: it featured an all-new dungeon, rematches against the significant bosses of KH2, the prerequisite mysterious bonus boss battle, and all-new 3-D models of all the Organization XIII baddies that died alone and 2-D in the previous GBA game (Chain of Memories), so you could fight them “for real” in the Kingdom Hearts 2 engine. Oh, and the game included a full 3-D remake of that GBA game, too.

Wow! That is a lot of content!

Yep! And it didn’t make it across the Pacific, either. We did eventually get that GBA-PS2 remake on the PS2, though… but only as its own, separate budget release. No Kingdom Hearts 2 Lingering Will super battle for American folks.

Boo! Boo I say!

Stupid WhaleBoo indeed! And this continued to be the new normal for the franchise. Birth by Sleep (the PSP one) Final Mix featured upgrades like a battle against Pinochio’s Monstro, Coded got Re:Coded, and, in the end, it seems that poor Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was the only Kingdom Hearts title to not see any gameplay changes after its initial release. … And that is the case only because it was repurposed as exclusively cinema scenes for the inevitable HD release. I shudder to think how many secret boss battles could have been squeezed in there if someone decided to properly convert the DS game.

So did America ever see any of this “DLC”?

Not for a very long time. But we did eventually see all of this content with the 1.5/2.5 HD remasters that were released in 2013/2014. Now, as of 2017, you can play all of this bonus content on your Playstation 4 as part of the Kingdom Hearts Complete compilation. So it only took an extra console generation, a whole new title, and XIII years for America to see Kingdom Hearts DLC. Seems about right!

So you’re saying we should consider ourselves lucky that this DLC is a worldwide release and only $30?

Yes. Please bring Nomura gilded zippers as an offering of goodwill.

So how does Kingdom Hearts 3: Re¤Mind shake out?

KISS!Your mileage may vary, but, as these things go, this seems to be pretty beefy DLC. First of all, there’s the signature “Final Mix” difficulty mode, this time allowing for some interesting challenges or lack of challenges. You can make the game more difficult by adding conditions like a HP drain, or make the game easier with one-hit kills for your opponents. It’s like a built-in Game Genie! There’s also a boss rush of some significant opponents, and the requisite secret boss du jour. And there’s an expansion to the “photo mode” of the original game, with the ability to set up dioramas so you can see what it would look like if Riku and Sora kissed in new and interesting worlds. We’ve also got additional keyblades, Oathkeeper and Oblivion, that were conspicuously absent during the initial release, and some additional battle options that manage to change the entire feeling of Sora’s combat. … Actually, I think those items are free as part of the DLC’s update, but it’s really hard to keep track of what is what. I know for certain that the new plot elements are part of the DLC, though!

A new plot?

Well, “new” is kind of a misnomer here. On one hand, for the first time in a Kingdom Hearts “Final Mix” situation, there is a significant amount of entirely new voice acting, new cinema scenes, and wholly new scenarios (you get to play as new characters!), on the other hand, almost all of this content is in some way “recycled” from the main game. Most of what you’ll find in ReØMind is either something that was already in KH3 but now seen from a different perspective, or a battle repurposed from its original context. The first bit of gameplay in KH3: RM is a struggle against what was previously the only wholly optional heartless in KH3, and that seems to be stating an opening mission statement of repurposing many of KH3’s “scraps” into complete meals.

So it’s just warmed up leftovers?

Yes, Kingdom Hearts 3: Re⍟Mind is leftovers. But they’re super delicious leftovers. This is some prime rib going in your lasagna leftover repurposing.

Is… is that something you actually eat?

With gusto.

So do the new plot details at least offer something new for fans?

Nope!

What the hell!?

I know, right? Kingdom Hearts 3 ended on a very confusing finale. Here’s where the spoilers for the franchise start in earnest…

FGC #117 Felix the Cat

A good chuckleThis game has no right to be this good.

Felix the Cat is a Nintendo (Entertainment System) game that was released in 1993. Yes, this was late in the Nintendo’s lifespan, and was the same year we saw gems like Gaygoyle’s Quest, Little Samson, and Panic Restaurant. But it was also the year we saw GI Joe: The Atlantis Factor, Contra Force, two mega buster-based Mega Man games, and Wizards and Warriors 3. Say what you will about such games, but it’s hard to argue any of them were better than their previous installments (W&W3 is a game so bad it made a young Goggle Bob weep). My point is that, even though the NES had probably hit its highest echelon (evolving from “can barely support Donkey Kong” to “Castlevania 3”), there was no “guarantee” of decent NES games, even from established studios. Hell, once we hit Kirby’s Adventure, even Nintendo moved on to greener pastures (albeit after briefly taking a detour through Wario’s Woods).

Though one thing remained consistent through much of the NES’s lifespan: licensed games sucked. Yes, we had Capcom churning out some great Disney games, but for every Ducktales there was an Adventures of Bayou Billy or Road Runner. This continued into 1993, when we saw amazing licensed titles like Monster in my Pocket, The Simpsons: Bartman Meets Radioactive Man, and Hudson Hawk. Nobody ever wanted a licensed Hudson Hawk game, but here it was, tricking children and grandmas alike into letting such an abomination into their NES collection. One may or may not enjoy the final offering of the Ninja Gaiden franchise, but it is at least a playable experience. You didn’t have that luxury when you popped in a game featuring The Addams Family.

So now we have Felix the Cat. For those of you not well versed in animation history, Felix the Cat is an animated character that is old enough to soon hit the century mark (1919), and hails from the era when talkies were still an unimaginable future. Felix the Cat predates Mickey Mouse by nearly a decade, and, Cairowhile he might not be anywhere near as popular as ol’ squeaky, he has had a pretty extensive career. He was voiced by Jack Mercer and Dave Coulier! How many animated characters can say that?

But by 1993, Felix the Cat didn’t exactly have the star power he once possessed. Like Betty Boop or Droopy Dog, I want to say the average child had a glimmer of recognition for the frenetic feline, but I was the average child back then, and… how did I know Felix the Cat? He didn’t possess anywhere near the popularity of The Real Ghostbusters or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as far as modern merchandising goes, and he wasn’t Bugs Bunny’ing around as some omnipresent corporate mascot. It must have been that weird kind of cultural osmosis that also accounted for me understanding Gilligan’s Island despite avoiding that show like a coconut-based plague.

I had a friend who summered in Portugal. I remember he was really excited about Felix the Cat.

Whatever the case, obscure franchise plus NES licensed platformer was in no way a recipe for success. Felix the Cat should have been yet another terrible NES game that substituted “one hit and you’re dead” for challenge and awful level design for stage variety. Not having much recall about this game (I probably purchased it for a couple bucks at a random EB Games), I was dreading this play session when ROB rolled it in. “I’ll play it at least ten minutes,” I told myself. “Then I can be done with it, and go back to overthinking Xenosaga.”

But you know what? This game is pretty great. I played it for ten minutes… and then another fifty more to finish the sucker. I liked it.

PRESENTS!First, and probably most importantly of all, Felix the Cat has an excellent powerup system. Collect ten floating Felix Heads (distributed like Super Mario’s coins), and you’ll earn a heart. A heart will “upgrade” Felix by one level, and (in most stages) there are four levels of powerups. In the first stage, for instance, a heart will upgrade Felix from “basic” to “magician” to “car” and, finally, to “tank”. Pretty natural progression. Each upgrade has a different attack, and, as you can guess, the tank’s attack is a little more effective than that of the magician (sorry, Atlanta). If Felix takes a hit, he’s reduced to the previous powerup stratum, and, should he take damage while he’s at the zero level, it’s life over.

What makes this system all the better is that it maintains a level of tension, even when you’re rolling around in your own tank. There’s a sort of “timer” associated with each powerup level, and, should it tick down to nothing, you’ll revert to an earlier form. To stop the clock, though, all you have to do is collect further Felix Heads, and then you can keep your advanced armaments. While I wouldn’t recommend it for every game, I really like this system, as it encourages the player to keep dutifully collecting everything everywhere, as opposed to many early NES games where, once you’ve got the best powerup available, all you have left to do is book it to the right. There’s gameplay in that gameplay!

And your powerup selection changes according to stage hazards, so your tank can become a sub in underwater stages, or… a dolphin? Sure, why not?

Sing along!But a sensible powerup system is only one part of the Felix experience. Let’s see here: the level design is thoughtful, with many later stages successfully hiding bonus areas and multiple routes. Enemies are predictable but attentively distributed, so a few “bunching up” can make a difference in strategy. Bosses are difficult but fair, and, unlike many NES games, powerups can be found in boss rooms, which makes all the difference in a pitched battle. And, amusingly enough, the final boss is a battle against a mad scientist buzzing about in his private flying saucer. That just makes me feel right at home.

My only complaint about the game is that Felix is kind of… slippery. This seems almost appropriate, as half the time he’s in a vehicle that shouldn’t have precise brakes, but it’s not the kind of thing you want to see in a game with floating, moving platforms. But past the first level, you just plan your jumps accordingly, and hopefully Felix won’t need more than nine lives.

Ultimately, I want to say what most impresses me about Felix the Cat is that it feels like a modern “return to 2-D gaming” type of game. There have been a number of 2-D platforming revival games in the last five years or so (with Shovel Knight being the best), and the finest of them show a genuine understanding of the genre and what makes it tick. Eat it, EccoFelix the Cat feels like that kind of experience, to the point that I can nary believe that it was produced twenty years ago by the same guys behind Adventure Island. It’s not a perfect game, but it genuinely seems like something produced with more care than should be afforded to a primordial cartoon cat.

Felix the Cat is the best licensed NES game of 1993. Sure, that may sound like some faint praise, but give Felix a spin, and I think you’ll agree. Or don’t. I mean, Wizards and Warriors 3 is always available.

FGC #117 Felix the Cat

  • System: NES, though I understand there is a Gameboy port as well. It’s the same game, but with fewer levels, so that might be good for a car trip if you ever find yourself stuck in 1995.
  • Number of Players: There can only be one Felix the Cat.
  • Favorite Powerup: It’s not the most powerful ability, but Felix randomly gaining a hot air balloon is delightful. And Felix’s attack in this form is… a Frisbee? Sure, that makes as much sense as anything.
  • WINNERAn End: So the sorta point of the game is to “rescue the princess”, who, in this case, is Felix’s girlfriend, Kitty. Kitty is tied up in classic vaudeville fashion for all of the “what you fight for” cutscenes that show Kitty and her mad captor. When you finally rescue Kitty, well, I guess someone blew the budget on making a first-class video game, so no one got around to animating an “unbound” Kitty. She hops up and down, elated at her rescue… but still hogtied. I guess, even with the villain defeated, cats aren’t very good with knots.
  • Tanks for the memories: Felix’s tank is very reminiscent of Kid Chameleon’s own Juggernaut tank. It’s a weird similarity, particularly given they both shoot heads of one kind or another. Kid Chameleon fires chattering skulls, Felix the Cat launches smiley faces. Slightly different ammo.
  • Did you know? Actually, Jack Mercer and Dave Coulier both voiced Popeye, too. And both Popeye and Felix the Cat had unusually fun NES titles. That’s oddly specific.
  • Would I play again: Probably, yes. It’s a short game, and, having been surprised at the fact it’s, well, good, I think I’ll give it another go sometime to see how well it holds up. Or maybe I’ll never play it again, and keep the dream alive.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Catherine for the Playstation 3! You ever have that dream where you have to play The Adventures of Lolo against a bunch of sheep? No? Well, you’re going to. Please look forward to it!

3 2 1 Let's Jam
3-2-1 Let’s Jam

FGC #109 Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom

Kingdom's KeysOf the entire NES library, this is the game I most want to see revisited with modern sensibilities. Sorry, Karnov, but Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom might be the best concept for a video game that has just been sitting trapped in an eclectic game from 1990.

Disney Land and Disney World are, in modern times, practically legendary. Through a fluke of evolution, modern children are born with an almost homing pigeon-like desire to one day make a pilgrimage to the Magical Kingdom and spawn more ridiculous photos with “real life” gigantic rodents than should be allowed. Find your nearest child and take a good, long look into their eyes. While you’re scaring the youngster, consider that somewhere in that meaty little kid brain, there are nearly a million synapses, at any given moment, generating a desire to eat waffles with Donald Duck. And a youth’s longing for Disney can never be sated! Eating, farting, and basking in the loving glow of the House of Mouse is all a child needs to survive. Note that I didn’t list breathing…

And it’s funny how the happiest/magicalest places on Earth aren’t exactly… kid friendly. No, I’m not saying Disneyland started offering sharp, pointy things on the promenade or Epcot’s giant golf ball is now a sex farm; what I’m talking about is how Disney attractions are very… regulated affairs. For all the talk of it being a child’s paradise, kids aren’t exactly allowed to be kids at a Disney park. Children want to run around, be free, and maybe break everything that has ever been considered valuable. Disney is all about sitting quietly and watching the play. Here’s a haunted mansion, here’s a pirate attack, here’s a runaway train… now sit there and enjoy it. Make no mistake, I’m not saying Disney is boring, simply that it is not the first thing I would expect as a child’s dream attraction.

Incidentally, if pressed, I’m thinking of a city-sized combination ball-pit/tunnels o’ fun/bouncy castle for the ultimate in juvenile fun. Unfortunately, I’m well aware that such an attraction would, possibly within minutes, lead to more broken, bloodied children than Jurassic Park (also exactly what I’d expect to be the decisive kiddy attraction). This is, in a way, one of the chief reasons video games are so appealing to children: you can do whatever you want, without fear of reprisal or injury. Gold for all!Super Mario basically lives in a bouncy castle kingdom, and those pipe mazes have more in common with a McDonald’s Playplace than any real sewers. And while many “old school” video games are more regimented, challenge level affairs (what fun is a game without winning?) more modern “open world” games offer the exact kind of free-wheeling freedom children are denied every time they’re grounded for something as insignificant as lighting the living room on fire.

Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom is one of those rigid NES games. The concept is that you are… a cowboy? Cow child? Come to think of it, why didn’t they stick a Mickey hat on this kid’s sprite? I guess the ol’ ten gallon signifies adventure? Bah. Okay, in the interest of making this tangent eventually end, let’s call this guy… hm… brown hair… big yellow shoes… Sora? Yes, you’re Sora, friend of Mickey (not a euphemism), and Goofy has “accidently” dropped the golden key to the Enchanted Castle, so it’s up to you to explore the Magic Kingdom and reclaim the six silver keys (and reassemble Kingdom Key B?) from particular attractions. As far as plot excuses go, it’s not that bad, and it allows the game to have stakes (help Mickey!) without going too dark for a Disney licensed product (the Pirates of the Caribbean are not eating the tourists).

It may be restricted, but the gameplay is pretty diverse for a NES game. The Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion stages are both 2-D platforming affairs, and this is a Capcom game, so those areas are fairly thoughtfully designed. They’re no competition for DuckTales, but they’re better than anything ever seen on Adventure Island. Also, despite both levels using the same basic gameplay, Haunted Mansion is more “carefully time your jumps across moving platforms” while Pirates is “avoid all these enemies”, though there is a bit of overlap. Autopia (the go-karts) is an overhead car chase stage in the style of Spy Hunter, and Big Thunder Mountain is a minecart stage (ugh) where controlling your cart’s speed and guessing at the right path are the only challenges. No one can hear you careFinally, there’s Space Mountain, where the best damn ride in the park has been reduced to a completely random Simon Says event. Alright, yes, Space Mountain kind of sucks, but the rest of the package is pretty alright, and, with unlimited continues and the ability to trade collectible stars for health refills, pretty doable for a NES game.

While the game isn’t all that exciting, it does boast a pretty amazing concept: what if you could actually participate in the Disney attractions? Watching a pirate is pretty alright, but how about actually fighting pirates, and pilfering their booty? Touring the Haunted Mansion is a lot more interesting when ghosts hop out of mirrors, and escaping a collapsing mountain is a skosh more fun when there’s actual danger from those tumbling debris. And who doesn’t want to explore space, even if it’s limited Space Mountain space? Mickey, I really want to grab that silver key on Asteroid F, but can I just enjoy having my own freaking space ship for like five minutes?

Now if I’m being realistic, pretty much everything in this game has been revisited in some game or another in the last few decades. The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean both had complete games (mostly based on their movies), and any number of games have taken those archetypical ideas and ran to interesting places where heroes may or may not be able to hold their breath for ten minutes. vroomWe explored well beyond Space Mountain with the Federation of Space Loonies. As fun as Big Thunder Mountain can be, we are not lacking for tense minecart stages after Donkey Kong Country Returns. And as far as racing time, not only have we had a racing game or two in the last few years, the whole “ride” was adapted into a minigame within Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, complete with the race against a dastardly Pete.

But worrying about the levels or attractions is immaterial to what could be “the real thing”. What I want is what this game could be in the modern era: Grand Theft Auto: Magic Kingdom. Okay, no, I’m not suggesting you should be able to carjack your way around Disney World, I just want to see a game where you have control of the park, and I mean complete control. Ride It’s a Small World or jump off the rails and see how many cultures you can toss into each other. Soar over the entire park with Dumbo. Scale the Tower of Terror. Hunt the Jungle Cruise. Hall of Presidents boss rush. Take Mr. Toad on a truly wild ride. The possibilities are endless, and we have the technology to do it! Both Disney Parks are already designed like video game levels anyway!

Ask most kids where they want to go on vacation, and the answer is going to involve Disney. And that’s doable. But the secret wish? What that same kid wants but will never have? Complete control over Disney. No lines. No waiting. No rules. Just unbridled, unfettered fun.

It might not be possible in reality, but what else are video games for?

FGC #109 Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom

  • System: Nintendo Entertainment System. And, like the majority of the Capcom/Disney library, I wouldn’t be expecting a rerelease anytime soon.
  • SpookyNumber of players: One lil’ kid in his lil’ cowboy hat.
  • Favorite Attraction (in game): Haunted Mansion is some good ol’ Capcom style NES platforming. Pirates would come close, but it seems a little too anxious to deplete your piddling health within its first five seconds, leaving the poor hero inching along in fear of that final hit. It’s hard to enjoy anything when you’re deathly afraid of skeletons.
  • Favorite Attraction (real life): Space Mountain. How did this game make the most fun part of the park into the most dismal? Oh, right, Simon Says has never been fun.
  • Disney Memories: I actually went to Disney World annually with my family for most of my childhood, thanks to a combination of disposable income (being an only child is awesome!) and far too many relatives living in Orlando and surrounding areas. Honestly, and I even said this at the time, I always enjoyed going to Universal Studios Florida more than Disney World. The rides were… more adult? Ah, who am I kidding? I was just that much of a freak for Back to the Future.
  • Capcomian: This is the third Disney/Capcom game, so this was before the likes of Talespin and Darkwing Duck. DuckTales was the first, though, and it’s kind of amazing that Capcom never hit that dizzying high ever again. Then again, there aren’t any statues trying to rob me in this game, so maybe we broke even.
  • Did you know? I neglected to mention that one of the silver keys is available through a trivia game played throughout the park. The questions asked are wildly insane in their varying difficulty. Who are the chipmunk leaders of the Rescue Rangers? Think I can handle that one. But “What was the first Academy Award winning cartoon?” (Flowers and Trees), “What year did the Mickey Mouse Comic begin?” (1930), or “What is the name of Hook’s ship in ‘Peter Pan’?” (None) are all questions that I’m not sure anyone would ever know the answer, particularly pre-internet. At least “What Yummyis the name of the Evil Fairy in Sleeping Beauty?” has only gotten easier in recent years.
  • Would I play again: I admit I have a certain fondness for this title… but I think I have more fondness for other Capcom/Disney games I can actually play to completion without cursing at Space Mountain. Sorry, Proto-Sora, you’re going back in the drawer.

What’s next? Random ROB has chosen… Primal Rage for the SNES! And I was just talking about Jurassic Park and bodily harm….Please look forward to it!