For most of us, the classic drawn animated Disney films, including Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty & the Beast, were pivotal moments in our childhood. They created the basic foundation in which we were allowed our own creative spaces, to imagine ourselves as swashbuckling heroes, Disney princesses, and ethereal gods and goddesses. Disney taught us the importance of never outgrowing our imagination.
Disney redefined the art of changing with the times, and since being founded nearly a century ago, Disney has learned to evolve with its maturing audience all the while acquiring new blood through its various acquisitions of industry heavy hitters such as Marvel Studios and Lucasfilms. This has translated into some impressive feats, with Disney rolling out a new, much-anticipated Star Wars trilogy and the Marvel’s MCU further expanding to include titles formerly excluded from the expansive universe such as Spider-Man. An impressive cinematic library without a doubt, the successes that Disney has accumulated through its impressive library of motion pictures and short films has naturally progressed to Disney’s large repertoire of video games, giving us beloved classics such as Epic Mickey, Aladdin, and the Kingdom Hearts series.
But this can also spell certain disasters. After all, not every Disney film is critically acclaimed (ahem, The Pacifier), and licensing Disney’s magic to a host of video games developers and publishers means that at times, the magic fizzles out and dies, giving us this list of most inappropriate moments found in Disney games.
16 Xion’s Death – Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
What is it about a beloved character’s death that always hits so hard? Perhaps it’s because after endless hours of gameplay, we’ve bonded and grown with the character. Their complexities and character development are only further enhanced by the interactivity inherent within video games, making their deaths an unexpected sucker punch and a legitimate shock to the system.
Xion’s death at the end of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days exemplifies the devastating effects that occur when we emotionally bond with video game characters. What was it about her death that garnered a ton of feels? After all, each member of Organization XIII dies eventually, so why was Xion so memorable? Could it be because she wasn’t even supposed to exist in the first place? Or that all she wanted to be was a great friend to those around her, meaning death was inevitable? Or maybe, just maybe, it was because, nobody would ever remember her.
15 The Online Community Of Club Penguin
While Club Penguin was designed for children aged 6 to 14, complete with an “Ultimate Safe Chat” mode that filtered profanity and moderators who patrolled the game to ensure the safety of its players, no real MMO virtual world is completely safe. After all, anything left into the hands of the general public can be met with sinister results.
Although the game went through great strides to ensure the safety and security of their young players, no virtual world is perfect. Without a real age restriction algorithm in place, this allowed a certain onslaught of inappropriate activities to filter into the game. Countless screen grabs display moments in which certain players would make sexual advances on minors, or the myriad sexual innuendos that slipped through the game’s safe chat filter system. Most would only result in a 24-hour ban window, making you really wonder, who’s looking after our children?
14 Motion Control – Kinect's Disneyland Adventures
An impressive digital imitation of Disney’s enchanting kingdom, Disneyland Adventures brings you the magic of “The Happiest Place on Earth” right in the comfort of your living room. But, it’s a cruel thing, to allow children so close to the magic only to snuff out whatever enjoyable experience awaited them in the happiest place on earth.
Much like other Kinect 1.0 games, Disneyland Adventures suffers from the Kinect’s inability to recognize prompts and commands from the player. Even the most basic functionality and controls are too complex, making the simplest errands, like taking pictures of certain landmarks, near impossible. Moving from one area to another feels like a Herculean task and the voice commands necessary to accomplish objectives are too fine tuned for kids still developing their motor skills. While the game may look and feel like Disney’s Magic Kingdom, it’s far from the real thing. It’s cruel and unusual punishment.
13 Licensing Hannah Montana: The Movie
For some, Hannah Montana was the realization of their dreams to be a pop idol. Much like other Disney sing-song shows and movies like High School Musical, Hannah Montana swept through adolescence like a craze, extending the franchise into a movie and producing merchandise like sing-along videos and karaoke. It would only seem fitting then that when a video game was produced in its likeness, the trend would follow.
Well, that’s where Hannah Montana: The Movie will disappoint you. Rather than an expected karaoke-style game, featuring the franchise’s greatest hits, it’s a strange adventure game–a far departure from the spirit of the pop idol. Poorly implemented with weak fundamental controls and even duller plot lines, Hannah Montana: The Movie completely fell short of all expectations that kids would have had in buying this game. This is simply an inappropriate attempt at cash grabbing those that are easily influenced.
12 Lions, Tigers, And Bears, Oh My! – Disney Pixar’s Brave: The Video Game
Brave was a moving daughter-mother tale about the importance of family, redemption, and most importantly, the meaning of true bravery. Oh and bears. Lots of bears.
Disney Pixar’s Brave: The Video Game borrows a lot of situations from its big-screen sister but decides to deviate from the film’s successful formula and throw erroneous curve balls at the player. While the puzzle aspect of the game makes the adventure outwardly enjoyable, its unseemly roster of adversaries is a far departure from the source material. Corrupt Ents. Giant fire warthogs. Rapacious harpies. Wasn’t this a movie about the Merida’s mother turning into a bear and her quest to change her back before the transformation became permanent? For this and many other failings–blunt controls, monotonous gameplay, etc.–this game misses its mark, firmly landing it on our list.
11 You’ve Got A Friend In Me – Toy Story
Much like The Lion King before it, Toy Story was a generational movie, and its tug-at-your-heart-strings plot and adult-themed subplots left strong memories. Following the pattern, its tie-in video game let you explore the world of Toy Story in this side-scrolling classic.
And like The Lion King, Disney’s Toy Story brings to life the horrors that resided deep within the movie, namely Sid’s house, filled with its monstrous mutant toys, and Sid of course. The level “Sid’s Workbench” shares a nightmarish reality as its source material – you’re forced to escape the deranged budding sociopath Sid the Kid, as he periodically appears as a giant tormentor, setting Woody’s head on fire by way of magnifying glass, accelerating the gameplay to a frantic pace, until you find relief at the bottom of a cereal bowl. It's these types of moments in films and video games that stick with you through your many years of therapy.
10 The Wildebeest Stampede – Lion King
Few scenes in Disney films shattered the collective hearts of children everywhere like the death of Mufasa at the hands of his brother, Scar. While the two-and-a-half-minute wildebeest stampede scene was a visual and cinematic masterpiece, the residual emotional toll of having to watch Simba desperately coming to grips with his new reality as he cuddled with his now deceased father was too much to bear for any adolescent mind.
So what better way to relive this childhood nightmare? By creating the nefariously difficult game, The Lion King, where instead of merely watching the wildebeest stampede scene, you were forced to participate, jumping and running side to side avoiding certain death that awaited you with one misstep or miscalculated move, hoping the outcome of the level would differ from the film if you succeed to navigate this death valley. But, Mufasa still dies and we’re still left scarred for life.
9 Jungle Fever Cut Scenes – Disney’s Tarzan Untamed
There’s not much to praise about this game. It’s as bad of a licensing tie-in video game as they come. Bland linear gameplay progression, mindless and easily forgettable level designs, formulaic control mechanics, and an overall short main quest limits Disney’s Tarzan Untamed lasting appeal. Still, that’s not why this game falls on this list.
Rather, its the questionable camera cuts and edits that appears when you face the first boss, The Fat Man. At certain points during the boss battle, the fat man will grapple Tarzan and you’re forced to wrestle your way out of his bear hug. But the camera cuts to make it appear like a rather... “jovial” romp in the jungle rather than a fight. What makes it worse is that the battle is being filmed by a film producer and a camera crew. It must be lonely being the only human in the jungle.
8 Let The Bodies Hit The Floor – Star Wars: The Old Republic
When Disney acquired Star Wars, many fans had hesitations about this new partnership. Luckily, much like Marvel, Disney has allowed Lucasfilms free reign to develop their cinematic and extended universe in the best way they see fit. Which gives us this terrifyingly inappropriate gem straight from the much beloved MMORPG Star Wars: The Old Republic.
If you side with the Dark Side, you’ll eventually find yourself on the planet Balmorra, which has been embroiled in a guerrilla civil war for a decade. To finally end the resistance, you meet a scheming Imperial agent named Fixer 66 who proposes the perfect plan to diminish resistance morale. You mission objectives are to rig the bodies of dead resistant fighters with explosives which results in immense collateral damage, many of which are scavenging civilians rummaging through the equipment of the dead soldiers and children. The T ESRB rating must stand for twisted.
7 Unfinished Business With This Puppet – Kingdom Hearts
From time to time, Disney has a bad habit of including inappropriate innuendos in the scrips of their movies and video games. They’re missed by children, but watch and play them over again as an adult and you’ll notice the sexual messages laced within your favourite Disney movies and games.
Inside Monstro, Sora and co. stumble upon Riku who’s insistent in “playing games” with the puppet Pinocchio. Seemingly harmless at first, but the cherry on top is at the end of the level a cut scene occurs where Riku is cradling an unconscious Pinocchio and when he exchanges words with Sora, mentions, “I have some unfinished business with this puppet.” A misunderstanding or misinterpretation perhaps, but that doesn’t stop the fan fiction floodgates from opening. What makes it even more bizarre is that the events that occur in Monstro are never mentioned in the Kingdom Hearts series again.
6 The Shutdown Of Disney Infinity
Few game mechanics irate the gaming population more than corporate greed and money cash grab schemes. From microtransactions to in-game purchases or even unlockable character packs, these financial transgressions make games unplayable or create unpleasant gaming experiences. Disney Infinity tops the company’s list of awful financial endeavours.
In order to play the game, you have to commit your 401k and savings to make any sort of significant impact in the virtual world of Disney Infinity. You first need to buy the starter pack, and since the game is a collection of themed mini-games, to get the full experience, you need to acquire all the other characters. How? Fork over more money. Have more than one child and want to play co-op? More cash, please. Want to explore the other adventure worlds? You guessed it, time to refinance your mortgage. Apparently to Disney, no price is too great for your child’s happiness.
5 Hopper’s Death – A Bug’s Life: The Video Game
A Seven Samurai-inspired adventure about an ant trying to save his colony, A Bug’s Life is as forgettable as they come, until you witness one of the most brutal death scenes ever animated for a family movie. Hopper’s death in A Bug’s Life: The Video Game, shows us how terrifying nature could be, making us collectively whisper under our breath, “damn nature, you scary!”
In the climatic scene of both movie and game, Hopper’s victory is all but assured as his grubby grasshopper paws firmly grasp protagonist Flik’s throat, choking the life out of him. That is, until an unassuming Goldfinch enters the fray and snaps up Hopper to feed her chicks. While a bird feeding her young isn’t inherently inappropriate, it's the realistic sounds of the chicks gnashing and tearing Hopper from limb to limb as he screams and pleads for his life that makes it absolutely terrifying.
4 Avengers Don’t Assemble – Marvel’s The Avengers: Battle For Earth
With such rich and varied stories to choose from, it would be easy to assume that game developers had their pick of the litter when it comes to developing accessible and enjoyable games. Sadly, that isn’t always the case, and Marvel’s The Avengers: Battle for Earth is a prime example of this.
The fault doesn’t lie in the graphics, they can stand on their own, but stunning graphics a game does not make. What makes this a forgettable and sometimes frustrating fight game is the weak roster, limited gameplay, and unresponsive controls, thanks in part to the motion-sensing technology used in the Wii Remote or Kinect. With an impressive roster of fight games that already use the likeness of Marvel’s greatest heroes (see Marvel vs. Capcom) it's insane that Marvel could think they could get away with selling this dismal video game at full retail price.
3 1-800-232-3324 – Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Loosely based on the successful film of the same name, Who Framed Roger Rabbit puts you in the shoes of private detective Eddie Valiant as you try to solve the mystery of, you guessed it, who framed Roger Rabbit.
Part side-scroller, part exploration, part puzzle solving, and all around terrible, Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a classic example of a company trying to fill their coffers in the most exploitative and conniving way. There’s nothing memorable here. But what makes this game unique was the lack of foresight from the developers when they included the toll free number, 1-800-232-3324. When it was called in 1988, at game’s original release, it featured a voice recording of Jessica Rabbit, giving you hints and tips for the game. But nearly 30 years later? It’s a sex chat service, that gives you hints and tips of a more sexual persuasion.
2 Exploring Adventures In The Magic Kingdom
Nostalgia is one cruel mistress.
Our accounts of vintage games are often told through rose-coloured glasses, regarding many retro games as impeccable masterpieces despite most of them not aging well.
Case in point, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom. A collaborative effort between Disney and Capcom, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom transports you to the enchanting world of Disneyland and Walt Disney World as you try to retrieve the lost keys to the Magic Kingdom parade. All the keys to success were there–charm appeal, mini-games centered around popular rides–leaving you a virtual park to explore. The problem is, all of it just falls short of its mark. Take the Space Mountain inspired mission as a prime example. One would expect you’d be riding a roller coaster just like the real thing, right? Well, instead of that interactive fun, you get to memorize certain button sequences to avoid asteroids and stars–just like the ride!
1 Lost In Translation – Fantasia
Perhaps the unholy grail of inappropriate Disney games, Fantasia often tops the list of critics everywhere for one of the worst Disney games ever created. With a brilliant concept to develop from, it's disappointing that the end result was executed so poorly. One of Disney’s most innovative and moving cinematic masterpieces, Fantasia is a beautiful symphony of art and music. And therein lies the problem. As the movie really has no plot, one was made for the video game–recover all the musical notes blown away by an evil wind. Riveting.
Sloppy controls and obscene level difficulties makes this game challenging for even the most seasoned gamer. But what frustrated fans the most was the hidden locations of the musical notes, with no clues as to where to look. Bear in mind, this was released before the Internet was a household essential.
Luckily, this tragedy was remedied with the 2014’s Fantasia: Music Evolved.