If you grew up in the early 2000s or really any time around there, you probably grew up playing Disney video games. The mass media conglomerate has produced hundreds of games based on its movies, characters, and theme parks. While some are simply knockoffs of classic Nintendo games, others are unique and packed with fresh content.
Some Disney games allow you to race as Mickey and his friends across vast locations. Others will have you leaping through your favorite animated film scenes. Still, others will let you explore worlds inspired by Disney theme parks. While Disney has made several solid games that we’ll be playing until the end of time, this mega media-producer has also created some that aren’t so great.
A few Disney games have outdated graphics, and others contain boring storylines and exhausting gameplay. There have been a handful of Disney video games that were clearly rushed. Because of this, we’re here to explore both the best – and the worst – of what the Disney gaming realm has to offer. While we wish we could give you a rundown of everything that’s been created, we’re here to give you the highlights.
Disney is continuing to create games at full-speed. Lego The Incredibles just recently launched onto shelves and other games like Kingdom Hearts III will soon be following suit.
Who’s ready to say hello to the highs and lows of the Disney gaming world? We hope you are!
While Disney Infinity had a lot of potential, the platform was discontinued just as it was getting good. There were lots of add-ons and game pieces to buy, and while it made the game more fun, the cost added up quickly. Additionally, the Wii version didn’t allow multi-player gaming in story mode, which swiped a lot of the fun right out of the game. The graphics were okay, but because the game was released in 2013 and not 2005, they could have been better.
Based on perhaps the most underrated Disney movie of all time, The Emperor’s New Groove video game was one of Disney’s best. Players got to control Kuzco as they journeyed through levels based on movie scenes. There were lots of fun potions to drink, plenty of pots to smash, and clever tasks that always kept the game interesting. The game was available on the Game Boy Color, PlayStation, and Microsoft Windows. So whether you were a PC person or a Nintendo junkie, you could enjoy all the awesomeness that came with this one.
This early Disney game was released for the NES in the West in 1988. While Disney tried to break into the exciting new world of home console gaming with this one, it lacked far too much. For one thing, the theming was wacky.
Mickey and Minnie essentially go on an adventure to rescue Alice from Alice in Wonderland.
It doesn’t make a lot of storyline-sense. The game was also pretty boring and basic. It wasn’t very unique, and the music got repetitive and annoying very quickly.
Disney’s Aladdin allowed players to journey through locations based on the movie. It was the third best-selling Sega Genesis game at the time of its release ranking only behind two of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games. While the game’s a little dated, it’s full of bright artwork and creative levels. It was also pretty fun to float around on magic carpets jump through familiar scenes. Altogether, this one’s a win.
Released by Sega, this side-scrolling game was based on the film of the same name. The gameplay lacked creativity and there were far too many design flaws for this one to be fun. The whole thing felt pretty pointless. Not to get hung up on the music again, but the music alone is totally worth getting hung up on. It’s weird and twinkly and if you haven’t muted the game within a few minutes, yes, there’s probably something wrong with you.
Hitting the world with its craziness in 2003, Toontown Online was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game that maintained a cult-following for ten years. This game allowed players to create a “Toon” and journey through a Disney-style world that was taken over by “Cogs,” which were corporate robots looking to destroy Toon’s happiness with business culture. The game was wildly creative, the multi-player elements were exciting, and the constant updates made the game unlimited. Disney even hosted a couple of real-life gatherings at its resorts to celebrate the game.
This game wasn’t liked much on any system. The Game Boy Color version was simplistic and dull. The three-dimensional version of the game on other platforms was sluggish. The movie itself didn’t offer a lot of room for creative scenery within the game, but regardless, all the levels start to feel the same after a little while. Flik also says the same phrases… a lot. Characters commonly did this in older games, but in this one, it certainly didn’t help. This game carries a lot of nostalgia but not much actual quality.
Toontown Online wasn’t Disney’s only successful online game; Pirates of the Caribbean Online followed suit. While this game didn’t contain the same wacky level of creativity, it was still full of lavish worlds and thrilling quests.
There were lots of opportunities to level-up and plenty of places to explore based on the films.
While the game was only running online for around 6 years, the excitement was fun while it lasted. Yo ho, yo ho! A pirate’s life for me.
The movie was beautiful, colorful, and freakishly creative. We can’t wait for the sequel to release! Unfortunately, the game didn’t pick up on all of its potential. The graphics were poor and looked a lot like a badly made N64 game. The gameplay itself was far too standard. A good Wreck-It Ralph game would have featured games seen in the actual movie.
Thankfully, you can play some of these movie-games online. Browser-based versions of Hero's Duty and Sugar Rush have been made available and are worth checking out.
This full-length Wii game, though? We'd skip it. There were far too many missed opportunities.
This one was – well – epic. For one thing, Epic Mickey was highly creative. There aren’t many games in which you can run around coloring in the world with a paintbrush – especially not as Mickey Mouse. Many parts of the game are actually inspired by parts of Disneyland, so the theming is crazy clever. While the game’s camera could have been better, the storyline made up for the few technical issues. Having Walt’s original Oswald character featured in the game additionally made the Disney nostalgia multiply off the charts.
Disney Universe was cute. The characters were adorable and the mixed franchises were fun. But while the game aesthetics were all there, the gameplay itself was a little clunky. This is one of those games that had a lot of potential and just missed the mark. The multi-player element was a win, but if you were playing alone, you would get bored pretty quickly.
The gameplay was similar to that of Donkey Kong 64 or Super Mario Galaxy.
But even if you’re an over-the-top Disney fanatic, we’d still recommended sticking with these other two, which were made much better.
The original game and the sequels that followed have all been pretty amazing. This role-playing game featured creative storylines and loads of side quests that kept the game entertaining. The locations were beautiful and the soundtrack was killer. While some Disney games that combine all of its characters into the same universe are lacking, this franchise found a way to do it right. We’re so excited for the next release! Kingdom Hearts III is scheduled to come out in January of 2019.
The Toy Story Midway Mania! ride located in Disney theme parks is one of the best. This game based on the ride isn’t so great. In the ride, players put on 3D glasses and are swung through a series of mini-games that involve aiming at targets. When those mini-games are instead put on your TV, it’s not quite the same. Without the ride vehicle swirling you around, the loud music, and the awesome ray gun in your hands, you certainly won’t be feeling like you’re actually on the ride.
We have one more Disney massively multiplayer online game that we don’t want you forgetting about. The short-lived Virtual Magic Kingdom recreated some of the best attractions and lands in – well, the Magic Kingdom. There were lots of opportunities to shop, chat, and play games. The best part about this one was its tie-in to actual Disney theme parks. Sure, the nostalgia was real, but it was also great to complete scavenger-hunt-like quests in the real Disneyland to win prizes online.
This Disney skating game is really just a rip-off of Tony Hawk’s series. Players could use characters from Toy Story, Tarzan and The Lion King to skate through various worlds inspired by their movies. To be honest, this game doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sure, the concept is fun. But do we really expect the elephant from Tarzan to be cruising by on four wheels?
While the game is fun for a little while, it gets old quickly.
If you like the Tony Hawk games and are a Disney fanatic, try it out. Otherwise we’d pass.
This game was sort of the Monsters Inc. knockoff of Super Smash Bros., and that’s actually why we loved it so much. There wasn’t fighting. Instead, you threw balls at your competitors in courses inspired by movie scenes. There were a few different game modes and both the single-player and multiplayer versions of the game were entertaining. What Disney did right with this one was make a game that was truly unique. There was enough to do in the game for it to stay fresh, and there were plenty of movie references packed into the gameplay.
Perhaps this one is worse than the skating game we already mentioned. Created a couple years earlier, this one lacked decent graphics. While you could do tricks, you were more often left scooting around, looking for coins. There were a few unique locations, but unless you grew up playing this one, we doubt you’d want to try it now. It’s overall sluggish and you’ll be falling asleep before you can even enter a new location. In other words, it’s boring.
While the graphics are dated, the theming is on-point. Players could journey through brightly colored worlds while attacking enemies. The game actually gained lots of praise, although some people were critical of how difficult the game was. We actually think this makes the game better. Sometimes the hard ones end up being the fun ones. The tube shooter-style segments added a nice break from the traditional flow of the game. Comparing it to other games at the time of its release, it’s well-rounded and certainly worth trying.
If cookie-cutter gaming is your thing, this one’s for you. Simba’s Might Adventure was lacking on both the PlayStation and the Game Boy Color. It was overly simplistic and once you played it once, it was time for it to make a permanent home on your shelf. There was no replayability value. The levels were average and the scenery was subpar. Everything about it was basic.
While running around as Simba is fun, the places in which you got to do so were limited.
Translation: This game isn’t great.
Guilty Party had us entertained from the start. This mystery-style game was very fun and full of rooms to explore and characters to meet. While the mini-games were simplistic, they always had laughing. The game was actually pretty comedic. While the game wasn’t filled with Mickey Mouse references, we don’t think it needed them. The game’s interesting storylines and puzzles stood on their own. If your favorite board game as a kid was Clue, your favorite Wii game would have certainly been this one.
Neither fans nor critics seemed to like this game. The GameCube’s Disney’s Party was pretty much just a cheap knock-off of the Mario Party series. It’s boring, it’s slow, and its overall frustrating. A few of the mini games were fun, but many of them were odd and confusing. The board game worlds felt pointless. Really, it was a tragedy that Disney could make a game that united players in mutual hate of it. Mario Party games are usually fun, but this one’s worth skipping.
This racing game for the N64 was one of the best ones made. Styled after the Mario Kart series, players got to race as Mickey and his friends through popular locations throughout the United States. The game was challenging and full of unlockables. The storyline added additional layers to the clever tracks already in the game.
The music was addicting, the locations were beautiful, and the gameplay was downright fun.
If you’ve never played this one, we’ve got some advice for you: Buy it. Yes, like right now.
We don’t care how much you loved the High School Musical franchise. Even if “Fabulous” was your theme song, you wouldn’t have liked this game. It is anything but. There is little storyline, and the gameplay is pretty clunky. It gets repetitive and you can get through the entire game very quickly. Play it once, and you’re done! If you’re really just in it for the music, try one of the High School Musical Sing It! games instead. You won’t be nearly as bored.
This Toy Story game inspired by the third movie was both beautiful and exciting. It’s a solid example of how you’re supposed to adapt a film into an adventure game. The levels were high-energy and the locations were cool to explore. While the game was pretty straight-forward, it also required some thinking. You additionally got to play as tons of characters, which was a huge plus. If you liked the movie, you would like the game, too. It’s well-rounded and bursting with vigor.
We’re specifically here to trash-talk the GameCube version of this game. Disney Sports Basketball is how it sounds – a game in which you control Disney characters as they play basketball. The first problem with this one was the complex and frustrating game controls. The second problem was the repetitive, uninspired gameplay.
Pull out an NBA game if you really want to play basketball on your favorite gaming console.
If you’re just in for the Disney element, play literally any other decent game Disney has created.
The second movie was almost as awesome as the first. The video game was almost as awesome as the movie. The Incredibles video game was highly creative and available on multiple platforms. While playing through the movie scenes was fun, there were additional levels that added to the story. One memorable level in the game had you racing as Dash to beat the bus to school. The game managed to be challenging without becoming tedious. The iconic soundtrack made gameplay all the more epic.
Brother Bear wasn’t one of Disney’s most popular movies, but you still might remember watching it. Unfortunately, the game inspired by the movie wasn’t memorable at all. We’ll give it credit – the gameplay wasn’t half bad. It was kind of tricky and the adventure was fun. On the flipside, the locations were repetitive. Practically every level was covered in the green of the forest, and due to the quality of graphics available on the Game Boy Advance, it all started to look the same. It’s certainly not the worst on our list of embarrassing Disney games, but it could have used some improvement.
You could step right into the magic of Disneyland with this one. Thanks to the features of the Xbox 360 with Kinect, the gameplay was very interactive. You could explore shops, play mini-games on rides, and even get autographs from characters as if you were actually at a Disney park. There was lots to explore and a decent amount of stuff to do. The details were truly remarkable. We wouldn’t be surprised if you started itching for a trip to the real Disneyland soon after playing this one.
The dog was cute; His game was not. This Nintendo DS adventure lacked entertainment value. It was dull and quick to get through. The challenging games are usually the good ones, so being short and easy didn’t do Bolt any favors.
The potential this game had was high, but the execution was low
The camera angels are additionally subpar. Disney’s made some better adventure games, and it’s your job to enjoy those. This one is forgettable.
Okay, okay – so technically this one is more of a computer game rather than a true video game. But boy, is it worth including in this list. The D Show was a trivia game Disney whipped up in 1998.
If you’re a fan of Disney nostalgia, this one’s for you.
Players could go solo or participate as part of a team to answer some wacky Disney trivia questions. There were also some fun mini-games included between rounds that kept things interesting. The opening theme song was catchy as heck, and the host had the greatest voice. It was an all-around win!