In the early parts of the 20th century, a young animator by the name of Walter Elias Disney set up a film company called Laugh-O-Gram Studio. This venture eventually failed, but Walt wasn’t to one to be dissuaded from his ambitions – and founded the Walt Disney Studio in 1923.
After producing a series of Alice in Wonderland animations, Walt focused his attentions on his newest creation, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. An ownership struggle with Universal Studios force Walt to change his character to Mickey Mouse and with that, the Disney Studio became a world powerhouse.
Now Disney is a company worth an estimated $110 billion, and is known all over the world. The studio is not just famous for Mickey Mouse, but a whole host of other animations and recently purchased the Star Wars franchise.
Disney’s reach is far and wide, with several industries taking advantage of the brand’s popularity – one of them being video games. In this article we take a look at some of the best, worst and weirdest Disney games that have hit the market.
The Pioneer – Mickey Mouse: Game & Watch
The first ever Disney licensed game was released in 1981 and developed by Nintendo on their Nintendo R&D1. By today’s standards, Mickey Mouse: Game & Watch was incredibly simple – it was played on a widescreen Game & Watch console, which was one of the first gaming consoles produced.
The premise of the game was to control Disney’s iconic mouse as he scrambled to collect up to 100 eggs. The game would struggle to hold the interest of today’s gaming market, but in 1981 it was a major hit, selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Today the game can be picked up on sites such as eBay for around £60.
The Best – Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts was a joint venture by games developers’ Square, Jupiter h.a.n.d, BitGroove and Success released in 2002 on PlayStation 2. The game’s protagonist is a 14-year-old boy named Sora who is involved in a quest to find his missing friends Riku and Kairi.
In Sora’s journey he encounters a series of characters from Disney, Pixar and Final Fantasy including Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Daffy Duck. After its initial success, Kingdom Hearts was recommissioned for a sequel and has since gone on to become a hugely successful franchise in its own right.
The latest iteration of the game – Kingdom Hearts 2.8 – was released at the beginning of 2017 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, the Apple store and the Google Play Store. The franchise has sold over 25 million copies since its initial release in 2002 and has never received a MetaCritic rating of less than 67 across 13 editions.
The Worst – Kinect: Disneyland Adventures
In 2011 Frontier Developments released what should have been an excellent Disney game on Xbox 360 – Kinect: Disneyland Adventures – which was later remastered by Asobo Studios on Xbox One. The game sought to take advantage of the open-world craze that was sweeping the gaming world in the latter part of the noughties, but failed spectacularly.
The premise of the game was that players would explore the open world of Disneyland, interacting with life size characters from the famous Disney franchise such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and the main protagonists from Finding Nemo.
With the right execution, this game could have been a huge hit, but instead it was nothing more than a thinly-veiled marketing exercise. There was no real interaction available to players and no overall plot arc.
A good video game should grab you by the lapels and draw you in for at least a week of unhealthy gameplay. After 20 minutes of playing Kinect: Disneyland Adventures, players can do everything available in the game before swapping to a properly developed game with much more interactive content.
Microsoft and Xbox are currently trying to reboot the game with their remastered version. If you see an advert for it next time you’re playing online, think twice and download something else that will give you more fulfilment.
It isn’t just console platforms such as PlayStation, Xbox, GameBoy and Nintendo that have cashed in on the vast appeal of Disney. Even online slot games are getting in on the action.
Although not specifically licensed by Disney, Once Upon a Dime takes players to a magical land of dragons, wizards and knights. The 25 payline slot game was developed by Castle Scatter Symbol and its graphics closely mimic those pioneered by Walt Disney. And its story – about a brave knight on a quest to defeat a dragon and conquer his trove of treasure – is also very reminiscent of a plot from a Disney movie. Spend some time researching how to win at slots and you could find you get your hands on some of your very own treasure!
Our Favorite – Toy Story 2
Although we have already told you that Kingdom of Hearts is the best Disney game available, we don’t necessarily agree with that estimation. Stats wise, the franchise is undoubtedly the most successful Disney game ever produced – but it isn’t our favourite, and here’s why.
Games appeal to different people for different reasons, and for us Toy Story 2 was the best ever Disney game. The 1990s film franchise was a favourite among children and adults alike, and in 1999 Tiertex Design released this classic game to PSOne and GameBoy.
The premise of the game centred on Buzz Lightyear’s quest to find his lost friend Woody. In the game players follow Buzz in his quest, encountering many characters from the original film and partaking in several side missions against the evil emperor Zorg.
The game sold at least 200,000 copies in the United Kingdom, receiving a Gold sales award from the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association. While it may not have reached the popularity of Kingdom of hearts, in our mind it’s still the best ever Disney game.
Disney is perhaps the most recognizable film franchise in the world, and its popularity has led to hundreds of industries looking to make profit from its success. The world of video gaming has attempted to cash-in on Disney, and like many other video games inspired by films, the vast majority have been terrible.
However, there are a few hidden gems in the genre and Disney enthusiasts can get their fill of the famous animations by playing some amazing console games.