Disney is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Their characters have appeared in films, TV shows, video games, and even action figures. At the same time, they’re a major investor in the gaming industry, and in the last year they’ve invested millions into video game development. But where is the love for Disney in the video game industry?
Has anyone else noticed that Disney is not well-represented in the video game world? Sure, there are some Disney games, like the Marvel and Star Wars titles mentioned above, but there aren’t many. In fact, it’s easy to find a Disney-themed title, but not one that’s on par with the quality of Star Wars: Battlefront or Marvel: Ultimate Alliance.
Disney Infinity 3.0 was announced last week, and it’s a game that, if you ask me, is sorely deserving of more attention. I’ve spent the last few days playing through the Toy Box mode, which lets you create and play with your own 3D Disney worlds using characters, vehicles and props from the Disney Infinity franchise. The Toy Box mode is unique in a lot of ways, yet it also borrows some of the main features of third-party platformer games like Super Mario Maker and LittleBigPlanet. Toy Box mode is a lot of fun, and I’d encourage anyone who enjoys video games and Disney to give it a try.
We’ve traveled to a galaxy far, far away and protected Earth from M.O.D.O.K., but lately we haven’t explored the wonderful world of Disney, either in the big trippy games or the smaller indie games. While Star Wars and Marvel have a huge amount of content, Disney’s films have huge potential for video games, especially platformers.
Disney has a great history in the game industry, but one of its greatest periods was during the NES and SNES generations. Aladdin has received an excellent video game adaptation, full of life and animated innovation. Players could stand in front of the bread line and attack the guards with a jump. The game also included some challenging, albeit fair, platforming. The DuckTales cartoon series also released a game on the NES in which Scrooge McDuck jumped on his stick. The levels proved to be a paragon of game design, and the music in Moon’s levels is still remembered today. WayForward released a remaster of this game in 2013, but despite the potential for Capcom to bring this classic back to a new audience, there was absolutely no momentum for such projects.
Image via Capcom
Later, as the PS1 and PS2 generations emerged, Disney came and went in the gaming landscape. Treasure Planet had horribly mediocre platform levels, with a few Tony Hawk-inspired maps and a sun surfer in between. The films Hercules, Monster’s Inc. and Toy Story 2 also captured the hearts and minds of children growing up in the 1990s and 2000s.
Disney’s latest throwback was the Disney Infinity series, an innovative real-life toy transformation game that allowed players to create their own levels and campaigns based entirely on their favorite Disney movies. The Pirates of the Caribbean set was especially memorable because it had a relatively large open world to explore.
Disney has been relatively quiet since the Infinity debacle. The Kingdom Hearts series continues to immerse players in the company’s immersive worlds, but the rest of the game development community has no interest in making full games based on successful properties like Frozen, Moana, Big Hero 6, Tangled and Toy Story. Most have moved to mobile devices, but it would be great if the beloved Disney films got Star Wars: The Fallen Order of the Jedi or Marvel’s Avengers.
In the spirit of Imagineering, imagine these scenarios.
New retro-remakes by independent developers or small studios
Image via Disney
There have been several adjustments in recent years. Sonic Mania is a revival of the classic game series that brings the formula into the 21st century. The century has brought. Bloodstains: Ritual of the Night successfully fulfilled the promise of a return to the Castlevania formula for PS1. The same could happen with our beloved Disney brands run by talented independent developers.
Sean Shopthau, vice president of Walt Disney Games, told IGN earlier this month that storytellers and independent creators may work differently on other properties in Disney and Pixar’s intellectual property collection. Those little independent experiments that are more personal ….. I think those are possibilities too.
For example, imagine a remaster or sequel of a classic Aladdin game brought to life by DotEmu, like the excellent Streets of Rage 4. Or we could see an indie studio like Studio MDHR (Cuphead) or Moon Studios (Ori and the Blind Forest) take the license (Mickey Mouse, Zootopia, Frozen, etc.) and turn it into a Capcom-inspired platformer you’d remember from the 90s. It has so much potential, but Disney seems to be quite strict since they denied FDG Entertainment (Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom) the license for DuckTales. We’d even be happy if Capcom would come on board and let the Mega Man 11 team work on a new Disney project, just like in the good old days.
But we can go a little further. Disney has all the necessary features to make an exceptional adventure game. The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise is ripe for new stories in its charismatic universe. While there is already a DLC for Sea of Thieves featuring Jack Sparrow, Triple-A Studios may be going a step further and developing a full game.
Imagine if Ubisoft took the license, made a big open environment with lots of loot, and put down Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag ship game? It’s a match made in heaven. It would be much more interesting than Avatar: Pandora’s Edge. Thwarting evil in Big Hero 6, an open-world game inspired by Insomniac’s Spider-Man, would also be great.
While many Star Wars and Marvel games have been excellent so far, it would be great if Disney would open up its legacy of classic films to interested developers. We’d love to be able to fight like Jack Sparrow again, or play a 2D platformer like Aladdin or Hercules.We’ve seen the latest Marvel and Star Wars movies, but where are the games? After all, if you’re a fan of the movies, you’ll want to play and experience the stories in the flesh. It’s the same with Disney. We’ve seen the films, but where are the games? Short answer: nowhere. Sure, we have Disney Infinity (and, to a lesser extent, Disney Infinity 2.0), but that’s about it.. Read more about disney infinity 3.0 marvel battlegrounds characters and let us know what you think.
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