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Ten Other Disney Video Games That Deserve Modern Upgrades



Well, with Capcom and WayForward releasing DuckTales Remastered – a remake of the classic NES platformer based on the classic Disney cartoon – and Sega prepping a remake of their classic Mickey Mouse platformer Castle of Illusion to be released around the same time (and why not throw in that HD remake of Kingdom Hearts while you’re at it), this naturally has one question on everyone’s minds: “So how much money and time of my social life will I need to gleefully spend?” Also, “Wait, did they change a word in the theme song?” Also, “Wait, has it really been that friggin’ long since these games came out? What have I done with my life?” But some of those might just be me, and the main question everyone has is “So what Disney video game should they remake next?”

Well, having poked and prodded through the library of Disney video games, I have come up with ten particular titles that I think deserve another shot at winning the hearts of millions, as well as the benefit of being beefed up by a bunch of modern 2D geniuses. Because some naysayers may say you can’t improve upon perfection, but if a slight upgrade is what it takes to get a new generation hooked on these games, then so it must be.

Now, keep in mind that I was only counting games based on purely Disney franchises here, so no Marvel or Star Wars stuff. Besides, if I included them, then I’d have to include all LucasArts games, and then the Disney stuff gets overshadowed, and then this list eventually just turns into The Top ten Non-Star Wars LucasArts Games…but that is another story.

So without further ado, let’s go take a look at some other classic tales of derring-do from Disney’s gaming library that need to see the light of day again…

10. Disney’s Aladdin

Alright, let’s get straight to it: The Sega Genesis adaptation of the classic animated film may very well be one of the system’s best damn games overall. It follows the film as best as possible, completely nails the feeling of Agrabah and the movie’s best scenes, has some of the smoothest and best gameplay from the 16-bit era, has a great sense of humor and just looks damn awesome. Truly, it is an astounding game in every area, and one that everybody needs to play. Also, Luke’s fianc?e said she’d personally hunt me down with a bow and arrow if I didn’t include this game, so yeah, that (I do have to admire her amazing taste in games, though).

So with that being said, some of you may be asking “Wait, if this game is a godlike experience equivalent to that of, say, licking strawberry milkshake off of a naked Zoe Saldana (or Chris Pine, if you prefer), why is it at the bottom of this list?” Well, first I’d say that you have a weird mind, and second, while I will freely admit that gameplay should obviously be the #1 priority over graphical quality, I feel that I must still say HOLY CRAP DAT ANIMATION. I mean, just look at it. Dayum. That is actual hand-drawn animation from actual Disney animators, all adding to help capture the essence of the actual film as much as possible. Therefore, any attempts to recreate it and still have everything intact would be risky as hell, and while pulling it off could result in gaming nirvana, failure would be punishable by death. Nonetheless, this is a true classic Disney platformer that everyone deserves to play, and at least commands a re-release of some kind.

(…Oh, and Capcom’s Aladdin game for the Super Nintendo was good too. I guess.)

9. The Black Cauldron

Yes, believe it or not, there was a time which Disney teamed up with Sierra to create a graphic adventure game for PCs based on one of their films. And yes, believe it or not, graphic adventure games were actually a highly-respected genre once adored by tons of game players. And yes, believe it or not, you people make me feel old from having to explain any of this.

While The Black Cauldron may be one of Disney’s least-memorable films (depending on your opinion), the adventure game based on it is actually notable for several reasons. For one, it was actually designed by Al Lowe, as in Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe, as in the guy behind all those popular adventure games that are as far from Disney-friendly as possible. Second, it was also one of the first adventure games to offer multiple story branches, paths & endings, a year before Maniac Mansion made such features more popular. Finally, it was one of the first adventure games to ditch the text parser in favor of more kid-friendly function keys, similar to an early point-and-click interface…which kinda appeared to be its downfall, since said interface has been criticized as rather clumsy, not to mention a few weak puzzles & some trademark cheap Sierra deaths.

But much like the film, the potential for an epic adventure is still there, and hopefully fifteen-plus years worth of progress, a bit of a resurgence in the genre, and the fact that since Telltale won’t be making that new King’s Quest game anyway, we have kind of a void that needs to be filled, would all make for quite an excellent remake of a game – and film – that deserves a second chance.

8. Gargoyles

One of the things WayForward apparently plans to do with DuckTales Remastered is add a few new story elements and dialogue, such as a narrative explaining why Scrooge’s nephews are suddenly lost in a Transylvanian castle. It’s a neat addition…but then you have some sillier stuff like attempting to explain why a giant rat is a boss on the moon by giving him a full backstory, because apparently “the moon is cheese and rats like cheese so there’s a giant rat on the moon” was a bit too much to grasp for some people.

I bring this up, however, because the Gargoyles game for the Genesis could probably benefit from such a narrative. On its own, it’s a damn good action-platformer (albeit one that’s a bit difficult and could use cooler music), where you play as Goliath and after being turned to stone – for letting Castle Wyvern get ruined during a battle with vikings possessing the Eye of Odin – you awaken in Manhattan 1,000 years later where Demona has suddenly and somehow appeared in the present as well and is using the eye to create an army of killer robots to…um, do things and all of this happens for…eh, reasons. Oh, and there’s no Xanatos, Elisa or even any of the other Gargoyles.

So yeah, to say that this game was a loose adaptation may be an understatement (though impressively, the Eye of Odin was actually made for the game first and incorporated into the show). And given the show’s talent for intricate and impressive stories, that’s kind of a shame. So maybe giving the game a new makeover with a story worthy of the show would be quite beneficial, to say the least. Plus, I’m guessing at least 90% of you are looking for any excuse to bring anything from The Disney Afternoon back. Speaking of which…

7. Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers

You all knew this was coming, right? Honestly, the only reason I didn’t rank this one higher is because if DuckTales Remastered does end up being a huge success, odds are this will naturally (and hopefully) follow. Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about this one getting remade, if only because most of you probably already said or thought of everything necessary after hearing about the DuckTales remake. But yeah, take everything that made the original great (save maybe for the easy difficulty; wouldn’t mind seeing the bosses pose more of a challenge), give it a snazzy HD graphical upgrade while still capturing the old-school cartoon charm, and I think it’s safe to say that we’d have a winner.

Actually, one potential improvement (or bit of idiocy, your call) I guess I could suggest is to add on to the original’s selling point of a simultaneous two-player co-op mode and maybe go full-on Rayman Origins-style four-player co-op (but not New Super Mario Bros. Wii-style, because your friends would probably prefer it if you all survived one gaming session without killing someone), with Chip, Dale, Monterey Jack, and Gadget with Zipper still as the invincib…well yes, I know that Gadget gets kidnapped in the game’s plot; no need to cut me off. But I think a slight rewrite or two might be worth it if it means getting a full Ranger experience, one that a classic Capcom NES platformer is worthy of. And speaking of which (um, again)…

6. Darkwing Duck

Okay Capcom, if you’re not going to release any new Mega Man games (not counting that spit-in-our-face iOS “social” game), how about you at least meet us halfway and at give us a game that was still built around Mega Man? And I mean literally, since Darkwing Duck was built from the same code as Mega Man 5, just with a few modifications. And boy, does it show. I mean, the NES Darkwing Duck game is basically a stealth Mega Man game and wait, why the hell am I making this sound like it’s a bad thing? I mean, this is Mega Man combined with Darkwing Duck, which is practically everything my eight year-old self ever desired from a video game! All it needs now is the inclusion of a soundtrack by Roxette, EMF and Crowded House and that kid would be ecstatic.

That being said, while Darkwing Duck does come from a period of great late-generation NES games that were sadly getting overshadowed by 16-bit systems, it definitely still has a few kinks that an update could iron out, like better power-ups and sound effects. Maybe also give it a little more of its own identity, and of course, new levels wouldn’t hurt (Negaduck, anyone?). Truthfully, a lot of the potential improvements that apply to DuckTales and Rescue Rangers apply here as well, so I won’t repeat myself any further, and just say this needs to happen, dammit. And besides, Disney, if you ended BOOM!’s stellar comic book, you at least owe DD the chance to come back in some other form as well.

5. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas: The Pumpkin King

Well, we finally ended up getting those video game adaptations of The Nightmare Before Christmas we always wanted…nearly twelve years after the film came out. Way to take your time, guys. Actually, Disney took a rather interesting approach to these titles…Oogie’s Revenge was actually a sequel to the film for the PS2 and Xbox, and The Pumpkin King here was actually a prequel for the Game Boy Advance. In addition, Revenge was a 3rd-person action game while Pumpkin King was more of a 2D Metroidvania title.

Now I know a lot of you are pretty much trained to wince at the word “prequel”, but just ignore that part and focus more on the fact that this is a Metroidvania title based on a licensed cartoon…quite the rarity, to say the least, and one that shows the developers were at least incredibly ambitious when it came to working on this game. The whole deal captures the spirit of the film quite nicely and makes for quite the fun video game, but alas, it got lost in the shadow of its big brother (along with the fact that the popularity of licensed cartoon games kinda nosedived after the ’90s). But as titles like Shadow Complex and the recent Guacamelee! prove, there’s definitely a place in the downloadable market for a quality Metroidvania title that deserves a second chance with a little more spit and polish. Besides, Disney, we all know that a $15 Nightmare game plus a crowd of teens raised on Hot Topic equals a friggin’ mint, and don’t deny wanting that.

4. TRON 2.0

Well, the most obvious reason this game should be remade is that it would awaken a boner in Zombie Rob so powerful that it would bring him back to life and allow us to thankfully bury all the Zombie Rob jokes in his place. The next best reason, of course, is that it’s just a really damn good game with a nice variety of gameplay, and one that captures the film’s universe almost perfectly, right down to the neon ambience, computer terminology, and l33tspeak, all while providing a unique FPS experience. Also, there are light cycles, which are never not awesome.

TRON 2.0 is definitely worthy of a remake or update, but alas, Disney kind of put a big obstacle in the way…in the form of TRON: Legacy. See, TRON 2.0 was actually meant to be a full sequel to the original film, even having a script written for a feature film alongside it, which got canned. But Legacy kind of made the whole game non-canonical, meaning the story might need some changes…maybe rewrite it to revolve around TRON: Uprising instead? Yeah, kind of a big order, but again, Disney canceled it, so they still owe us some closure, dammit. They are owing us quite a lot today…

3. The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse

Capcom’s excellence when it came to Disney-related platformers wasn’t just limited to NES titles, mind you. In 1992 they came out swinging with Magical Quest, arguably Mickey’s finest hour in the video game arena. Eye-popping graphics, stellar platforming gameplay, huge levels chock full of secrets, amazing bosses, and a nice variety of costumes and special powers made for quite the rip-roaring roller coaster of Disney gaming goodness…up until the coaster suddenly comes to a halt and you realize that this game has joined titles such as the original Portal in the “Unbelievable Experience/Short Length” area.

But despite that one flaw, Magical Quest proved successful enough to warrant two sequels and yes, even get its own console remake on the Game Boy Advance…which was a complete letdown, largely because it did nothing to fix the length issue except throw Minnie in as an optional character, and even then she plays exactly the same as Mickey. In fact, I wouldn’t even really call it a remake (hell, the graphics were actually downgraded). So dammit, it needs the full-on enhanced remake it deserves, one with the expanded and/or additional levels that would help display this game as the nearly flawless classic it is (or should be).

2. Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow

Now here’s a deserving title that sadly never got the chance to shine. First, if you’re confused as to who the hell this “Maui Mallard” is, he’s Donald Duck. The game was originally a Donald Duck game for the Mega Drive called Donald in Maui Mallard, first released in Europe, but when it came time to port it over to American shores nearly a year later for the SNES, Disney saw Donald wielding a bug-shooting gun alongside some slightly darker tones and graphics, got cold feet, and removed all mentions of Donald from the game and changed the title to Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow. Granted, it was very obviously still Donald in the game (just assuming a different persona), but you know, brand recognition and whatnot kind of rung a death bell.

So Donald in Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow in Bruges basically revolves around Magnum P.I.-esque detective Maui Mallard try to track down a mysterious idol on a tropical island in order to stop everything from exploding and experiencing general doom, and with several angry natives, monsters, and evil ninjas in the way, Maui finds himself having to summon ninja alter ego “Cold Shadow” to be able to battle and get through and I just realized that if I have to tell you anything else to convince you that this is an awesome game, i have clearly failed. I mean, this games has you play as a NINJA DETECTIVE, for crying out loud. And anything that combines ninjas and law enforcement of any kind clearly cannot be called a failure. Of course, the nicely-integrated dual gameplay, gorgeous graphics, killer action, and interesting and unique take on the usual Disney platformer formula with kind of a pulpish approach help as well. But as usual, the whole game channels a terrific cartoon feel that it never forgets about, which is most important.

Maui was a late-generation SNES title, and clearly pushed everything to the limit. But late generation is late generation, and that along with Disney’s skewering meant Maui’s adventures sadly ended here. Especially a shame since he was having a sequel planned as well, but that kind of got canned. This was a title with a ton of potential, and I say it deserves to be brought back. And I mean it had a ton of potential, since there were even talks of a Maui Mallard cartoon series…but the franchise never came to be, and we never got to see the animated adventures of Donald Duck, Ninja detective. And instead we got Quack Pack. Yippity f***in’ yay, Disney.

1. Quackshot

Well, given that this whole list was inspired by the current remakes of DuckTales and Castle of Illusion, it kind of seems appropriate that number one is a game that feels a bit like a hybrid of the two. One could argue that Quackshot is a bit of a spiritual successor to Castle, what with them both being Disney platformers made by Sega that were both released within the same timeframe. But while the two are related in a sense, Quackshot definitely stands out as its own unique and awesome game.

After finding a treasure map in one of Uncle Scrooge’s old books, Donald sets out in search of riches armed with a plunger gun (because gun with plungers equals good and gun with bugs equals bad, apparently) to defend himself from Big Bad Pete’s evil forces, naturally wanting to claim the treasure for himself. What follows is a rip-roaring, globe-trotting platform adventure full of exploration, action, incredibly eye-popping graphics/scenery, a lot of variety and gameplay that truly showcases Sega at their prime. Basically, a near-perfect game.

But what also made Quackshot special was Sega doing their homework and drawing from the perfect inspiration for a Donald Duck game; Namely, the classic comics of Carl Barks. His influence is felt throughout the whole game, along with an obvious touch of Indiana Jones (whose films themselves had a bit of Carl Barks influence, bringing everything full circle), what with the exotic locations and adventurous feel that was fluent in some of Barks’ best work with Donald.

And that’s kind of why I picked Quackshot for number one. It’s a terrific game that sadly gets overshadowed by Mickey’s stuff, sure, and definitely deserves more people to come and check it out. And it could benefit from some level additions, an HD graphical upgrade, and whatnot. But I say, why not go full Carl Barks? Like, imagine the whole art style given a bit of an overhaul to match that of Barks, but with the same luscious graphics. A full, 2D, gigantic playable Carl Barks Donald Duck comic is what I’m trying to envision. Quackshot does capture Donald almost perfectly as is, but with the right style, additions, and a bump in animation of to near-Aladdin levels…it could potentially put DuckTales Remastered to shame.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I suddenly feel the need to track down as many Carl Barks comics as possible.

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