All That’s Retro’s Magic Kingdom: Our Favorite Old School Disney Games!
Walt Disney once said “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible” There have been times when gamers have longed for remakes of their favorite old school games and it seemed an impossible dream, but luckily our industry has continued to make dreams come true, much like Disney himself did. More and more we are seeing remakes of some of our all-time favorite games, all prettied up with updated graphics and giving us a renewed reason to squeal with excitement and relive our childhood. One of the most recent old school classics to receive a new makeover is DuckTales, or DuckTales Remastered, as it is now called, and to celebrate its release we are going to revisit some of our favorite retro Disney games!
The Black Cauldron:
One of Disney’s lesser known features that is now a cult classic, The Black Cauldron was almost destined to be a video game. With its PG rating (hey, it’s Disney. That was pretty hardcore, especially in 1985), it featured all sorts of magic, dragons, witches, and armies of the undead. Shortly after its release, a video game with the same title was released for the PC in 1986 by Sierra as a point-and-click adventure that featured multiple endings. The game was insanely hard and creepy and if it was made today it could easily fit in with the ranks of Elder Scrolls if given the right treatment.
Traveling the world as Donald Duck and his trusty plunger gun in this side-scrolling adventure for the Sega Genesis gave you the distinct feeling that Donald was channeling Indiana Jones himself. For once Donald broke free from the classic sidekick role to become the hero, finding treasures from all over the world. Despite a clunky menu system, the game had a lot of great features, like fantastic dungeons and upgradeable weapons. From fighting Count Dracula in Transylvania, to finding haunted Viking ships, this platformer was one huge adventure after another.
Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers:
There are so many reasons to love this game. It seems a crazy notion now, to sit in the same room, on the same system (in this case it was the NES), with two people playing a game together only inches apart (let’s be honest those cords were way too dang short), but that is how co-op was done. This game was one of the founding fathers of co-op, and while it could be played single player, it was best enjoyed with a friend or sibling (or enemy, depending on how badly they messed up your flow and how often they got you killed). You play through the game as Chip and Dale, trying to find your way to Fat Cat’s casino to rescue Gidget. It played very much like Super Mario 2, and you got to pelt enemies (or team mates) with apples and acorns. What’s not to love?
The Lion King:
I am not an advocate for many games that are released as a companion to the movies, but this one is certainly an exception. It was released on several systems, including Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis, and riding on the success of the movie it quickly became a bestseller even today. This game stands out for its beautiful graphics (the backgrounds were drawn by actual Disney animators) and its intense difficulty, as well as some super fun bonus levels that let you play as Timon and Pumbba. Hakuna Matata!
While we are on a role of movie-based games here, let’s talk about Aladdin. This game was also released on SNES and Sega Genesis/Megadrive, as well as Sega Game Gear, but I want to focus on the two amazing, but distinctly different, SNES and Genesis versions. The Genesis version is much more graphically beautiful, though the graphics and backgrounds in the SNES version were nothing to scoff at. The SNES version features more acrobatic Prince of Persia type gameplay and a pretty awesome flying carpet level. In the Genesis version, Aladdin carries a scimitar, and he was able to hack away at enemies. Both games have great elements, so this game gives us two great games to look back on.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse:
This is another game that is getting repolished and released for Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and PC, and rightly so. It was originally released for the Sega Genesis and one of the best parts about this game is that it makes you feel like you are truly swept away into a magical land, full of charm that embodied everything Disney. Swimming around in giant tea cups and bouncing on enemies while fighting your way through the evil within Mizrabel’s castle so you can save Minnie, this game basically was a Mario clone done exactly right.
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck:
Take Castle of Illusion, add Donald Duck to the mix, plus the ability to play co-op, and you get World of Illusion. Also for the Sega Genesis, World of Illusion was one of the first games I played that didn’t cause a huge fight over who got to take the first turn. This was one of the great old school co-op games where you had to truly work together as a team, working side by side after being transported to the magical world by a lunatic magician. You help each other by lifting another player to a higher spot using ropes or finding a perfect rhythm to get a mine cart moving, all so you could find your way home. It takes inspiration from tons of great classic Disney worlds, like Snow White, and is a satisfying game for those who love Disney, and even those who don’t.
Ok, so this game wasn’t on the same level as some of the others listed, but it definitely evokes a lot of nostalgic feelings for many gamers. It was released by Capcom in 1987 and was changed quite a bit for its US release. Certain bosses were changed and new enemies were added. It had a certain element of mystery, considering you weren’t exactly sure who you were trying to rescue (turns out it was Alice, from Alice in Wonderland). It was one I rented from the store over and over again because I just couldn’t get past the ridiculously hard pirate ship, not to mention if your AI companion Minnie dies, so do you. This game wasn’t the greatest, it didn’t have the best graphics, and it didn’t have a truly compelling story, but for a lot of people that grew up around this time, it was one of the first Disney games we got attached to and it has a special place in our hearts.
Last, but certainly not least, DuckTales is considered by many to be the best Disney game ever. You play as greedy old Scrooge Mcduck, bouncing around on his trusty cane searching the world for, what else, TREASURE. The gameplay is magnificent and there are 3 different endings. Depending on how well you played the game, you could end up very rich, or you could end up with nothing to show for your efforts. It is a true classic Disney game and so worthy of its remake.
All of these games are classics in their own right and have paved the way for future Disney games, like the Kingdom Hearts and Epic Mickey Series, to shine for newer generations. If you haven’t tried it, go out and download DuckTales: Remastered and countdown until Castle of Illusions comes out. Both are well worth it! Sound off on some of your Old Disney favorites in the comments below and keep the Disney magic alive!