Today, most of Disney’s video games consist of lazy, licensed crap and disappointing platformers, but there was a time when Disney’s cast of characters starred in some of the best adventures of the 8- and 16-bit eras. With the recently announced remakes for classics like DuckTales and Castle of Illusion, GamesBeat began to wonder which retro gems might be next in line for HD makeovers. Here are the five that we’d like to push to the top of that list.
What it was: Inspired by the classic Indiana Jones films (which were themselves partly inspired by the comic adventures of Donald and Scrooge McDuck), QuackShot was a world-spanning treasure hunt released on the Sega Genesis console. Donald Duck, armed with a kid-friendly plunger gun, traversed Transylvania, India, the South Pole, and Duckburg on a quest for fortune and glory. He received aid from a familiar cast of Disney favorites, including his uncle Scrooge; nephews Huey, Duey, and Louie; and best friend Goofy.
Why it was great: Disney released a lot sidescrollers for the Genesis, but none of them were as epic as QuackShot’s globe-trotting adventure. While most games toss Donald into the role of comedic sidekick, this platformer made the world’s most famous duck the star. The labyrinth-like dungeons and upgradable weapons also gave QuackShot a bit of a Metroid feel long before it was cool to make endless “Metroidvania” clones.
What should be updated: QuackShot was a visually stunning Genesis game, and its colorful sprites still look vibrant and expressive. Still, it would be nice to see the graphics get a hand-drawn touch, sort of like what they’re doing for the DuckTales remake but less cartoony. Instead, the developer should draw inspiration from the classic Donald Duck comic books. Also, the confusing menus could use some streamlining.
Disney’s Aladdin (the Genesis version)
What it was: Released a year after the film, Aladdin for the Genesis was 2D platformer that loosely followed the plot of the film. Unlike the movie, the Arabian street rat armed himself with a deadly scimitar, which he used to hack away at palace guards and vicious animals.
Why it was great: Disney actually released two completely different Aladdin games for the Genesis and Super Nintendo. While Capcom created the SNES version (itself a fine title), Virgin Games worked with actual Disney animators for Sega’s platformer. The result was some of the best sprite animation seen on the system. Along with the fast-paced action and catchy soundtrack that recreated the movie’s classic songs, Aladdin remains one of the best game adaptations of a film.
What should be updated: Aladdin’s sprites did a great job of capturing the look of the movie, but now a developer can replace them with HD art indistinguishable from the real thing. Also, the incredibly hard magic carpet sequence, which tasked you with dodging an army of incoming boulders, could use some toning down.
World of Illusion
What it was: A sort-of sequel to Castle of Illusion, World of Illusion was a co-op platformer for the Genesis starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck as magicians trapped in a strange, magical world inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and other Disney classics.
Why it was great: While you could play World of Illusion alone, it was most fun when experienced with a buddy. Mickey and Donald had a variety of co-op moves that they used to traverse the fantastical levels, including lifting the other player up cliffs with ropes and pushing a friend through a tight hole. World of Illusion was one of the best two-player platformers of the 16-bit era.
What should be updated: World of Illusion had some colorful visuals that would look spectacular re-imagined with hand-drawn sprites and backgrounds. I’d also love to see the cutscenes redone with traditional animation and complete voice acting. Oh, and let’s speed up the whole rope-climbing mechanic.
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers
What it was: Similar to DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers was a Capcom game based off a popular Disney cartoon for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was another platformer, but this one offered two-player co-op.
Why it was great: Just like with DuckTales, Capcom brought the same level of quality it gave to classic NES franchises like Mega Man to a licensed game. Most of the action involved throwing apples, acorns, and other objects to attack enemies and create platforms — similar to Super Mario Bros. 2. But just like with World of Illusion, Rescue Rangers was best when enjoyed with a friend.
What should be updated: DuckTales Remastered producer Rey Jimenez already told Polygon that he’d like to tackle Chip ‘n Dale next if DuckTales proves a success. That remake would also benefit from the same cartoony, hand-drawn visuals that faithfully bring back the look of the show.
What is was: Mickey Mania was another platformer starring Disney’s mousey mascot — this time released for both the Genesis and the Super Nintendo (and later for the Sega CD and Sony PlayStation with slight improvements). Developer Travellers Tales based each level on a classic Mickey cartoon, making Mickey Mania something of a career retrospective.
Why it was great: While other 2D sidescrollers starred Mickey, Mickey Mania was a celebration of the cartoon icon. Animation fans and amateur Disney historians loved seeing classic shorts like Steamboat Willie and The Band Concert turned into stages. This sprite version of Mickey was also the best animated out of all his 16-bit adventures.
What should be updated: While each level faithfully recreated the look of its inspiration, Mickey retained his modern appearance throughout. Let’s have Mickey’s design change with the progression of time. Also, since Mickey Mania was a celebration of the mouse’s history, let’s add a new, more modern final level (1990’s The Prince and the Pauper currently serves as the last stage).
That’s it! Did we leave any retro Disney titles that you loved off our list? Let us know!