Disney has not only had its hands in the animation and movie industries. As a matter of fact, they are well-known for licensing their properties to esteemed game developers to create some of the most critically-acclaimed video games in history. Just imagine what the world would be like without the massive Kingdom Hearts fanbase?
Disney knows that their properties are successful, but when they’re attached with genuinely good games, the results are much more impressive. The only reason they were able to get away with something like The Disney Afternoon Collection was simply because each of those games was well-designed. With titles like DuckTales, The Lion King, and Aladdin under their belts, it’s easy to see why they had some of the best games.
That’s not to say that Disney properties only make for good games, though. Just like any other owner of a popular movie icon, Disney has licensed out some games based on their films that are just plain weird. Whether it be because they were poorly designed or have an odd premise, a lot of their movie games haven’t been the best. This is a tradition that continued for quite a while, with their good games coming few and far between. It’s proof that too much of anything is a bad thing.
Disney makes great movies, but their video games are more of a mixed bag. Join us as we count down 20 of the weirdest video games based on Disney movies and 10 Disney movie games that were actually good.
30 Weird: Oliver And Company
Oliver and Company is a weird game. You follow the titular cat as he makes his way through various locations from the film. The only way to progress to different levels is by collecting hot dogs and biscuits lying on the ground. The game’s visuals are more than enough to make it worthy of this list, with an awkward 3D movement style and bizarre character designs across the board. Just watch the movie if you want the story that badly.
29 Weird: The Rescuers Down Under
The Rescuers Down Under was turned into a handheld video game by Tiger Electronics, so it had that minimalist design and gameplay style. To be fair, any of the Tiger Electronics Disney movie games could’ve easily made the list, complete with the awkward animations and static backgrounds. The Rescuers Down Under rises above the rest simply because of how odd it was that this film was chosen alongside juggernauts like Beauty and the Beast and DuckTales. It doesn’t make much sense.
28 Good: Aladdin
This sidescrolling action platformer proves that Aladdin is not only a diamond in the rough in the film, but also on the SNES. Crisp animations and concise combat are littered in every level. It’s one of those classic Disney games that keep the spirit of the film intact while adding enough gameplay mechanics to make it fun to play. Couple that with a chiptune version of the movie’s soundtrack, and it becomes a wonderful example of what can be done with movie video games.
27 Weird: Ariel The Little Mermaid
Not all Disney games during the SNES/Genesis era got the best treatment. Ariel The Little Mermaid was Disney’s version of Ecco the Dolphin. You can select from Ariel or her father as you go through underwater levels where you’re given free movement.
Unfortunately, the game is infamously easy and not very long.
The animations aren’t nearly as clean as other Disney games of its time, and the movement system makes the combat much more frustrating as a result. That soundtrack needs a lot of work too.
26 Weird: The Emperor’s New Groove
There’s a certain unique charm to The Emperor’s New Groove. It’s not a mainstream Disney film, and it’s extremely good because of that. Unfortunately, when designing the video game adaptation on the PlayStation One, the result was something mainstream for the time. The game is designed similarly to Spyro the Dragon, but devoid of the charm or care that made those games so great. The art style of the film translates poorly to the PSX, the levels are uninteresting, and the character models are bad.
25 Good: The Lion King
The Lion King is one of the hardest Disney games to date, but it’s still well-designed. Complete with clear animations that made Disney games so good on the SNES and Genesis, this game was a treat to watch. The levels were all structured nicely and flowed well with the story. Throw in some cutscenes that remake actual scenes from the film, and it becomes a game that offers a treat to fans of video games and fans of the film. Just watch out for that second level.
24 Weird: A Bug’s Life
When it comes to games that tried to emulate the success of Super Mario 64 or Banjo-Kazooie, it was an odd choice to use A Bug’s Life to accomplish it. However, that’s exactly what occurred; but the game wasn’t very good. The game was a platformer loosely based on the film, but it was full of confined spaces and controls that fought against players rather than allowing them to move better. The visuals were decent for a game of its kind, but that alone wasn’t enough to make it good.
23 Weird: Beauty And The Beast: Belle’s Quest
Disney had a weird model for Beauty and the Beast: Belle’s Quest. It was one version of two games released at the same time that would appeal to boys and girls respectively. Belle’s Quest was designed to appeal to girls and, unfortunately, was painfully simple and bad as a result. The game greets players with a plain black menu offset only by a rose. After that, they’re thrust into slow-moving levels where shrill music chips in the background and poor sprite work attacks their eyes.
22 Good: Hercules
Instead of trying to recreate the success of 3D platformers, the minds behind the Hercules video game decided to recreate the success of Aladdin and The Lion King. Hercules came out on the PlayStation One, but merely reworked the 2D platforming of Disney games that came before it. The result is a visually stunning game for its time. Hercules and every other character is created with cleanly animated sprite work with the backgrounds having a subtle 3D effect to them. It also has concise combat and controls to boot.
21 Weird: Timon And Pumbaa’s Jungle Games
Timon and Pumbaa were the most energized characters in The Lion King, so it’s essentially a tragedy that they would be used to star in such a lifeless game like Timon and Pumbaa’s Jungle Games.
The game is odd because it’s just a collection of poorly-drawn and executed mini-games that you play on the computer.
While the characters themselves look fine, the same can’t be said for the mini-games, which won’t hold your attention for more than few minutes at best.
20 Weird: The Hunchback Of Notre Dame: Topsy Turvy Games
The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Topsy Turvy Games is on the list because it’s little more than a mini-game collection that uses Topsy Turvy Day as a way to try and disguise it. It has little to do with the actual film it draws from, and the games are half-baked at best. It was one of a few PC mini-game collections Disney released on the PC, and it was an odd choice for such a gorgeous movie. With Quasimodo’s ability to climb just about anything, you’d think developers would’ve come up with a more interesting game.
19 Good: Toy Story
Toy Story was another 2D platformer that Disney greenlit for production, but it was memorable, not because it tried to emulate the style of 2D animation, but because it tried to emulate the style of the film. The developers went with a look similar to Donkey Kong Country, which made everything flow together nicely. There are some minor platforming nitpicks, but the strengths outweigh the weaknesses in the Toy Story game. Any fan of the movie should play this game.
18 Weird: Fantasia
Fantasia is one of Disney’s most popular movies, but it’s unfortunate that such a big film would be used to create such an awkward game. A formula that would later be perfected with games like Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion, Fantasia’s style has Mickey platforming through various levels, jumping on enemies’ heads.
However, the problem comes with how the game looks and feels.
Mickey controls slowly, the enemies don’t pose much of a challenge, and the art style leads to come confusing platforms.
17 Weird: Disney’s Brother Bear
It’s surprising that a 3D platformer made generations after the NES would control like the original Mario Bros. Disney’s Brother Bear feels like a blatant cash-in on the movie (more so than the rest of the Disney movie games). All sense of momentum is gone every time you fall from a ledge, the graphics make each character look bizarre, and the soundtrack desperately tries to make you think that you’re playing something epic. It’s a weird little game that we can’t recommend to anyone.
16 Good: The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book got turned into a 2D platformer that took the locations and hand-drawn animation of the film and remade them for the SNES. A lot of Disney platformers are on the “good” section of this list, but that’s because there was a formula that worked extremely well. The gimmick in The Jungle Book is that there would be vines for Mowgli to climb, as well as a greater sense of momentum. Being able to throw bananas, he could also take out enemies at a distance, which was helpful for the cramped aspect ratio of the console.
15 Weird: Bolt (DS)
When games were ported from home consoles to handhelds, there was usually a severe downgrade that happened along the way. Look no further than Bolt. Not only did the game introduce a lot of locations that had nothing to do with the movie, but it also looked worse than something on the Nintendo 64 or PlayStation One. The controls were clunky, the sound mixing was bad at every turn, and it was forgotten in no time at all. Just to be clear, we’re talking about the DS version.
14 Weird: Hannah Montana: The Movie, The Game
The first thing that many people thought after watching Hannah Montana: The Movie was that they wanted a game based on it. All jokes aside, Hannah Montana: The Movie, the Game is just odd no matter how you look at it. It’s a weird mesh of a half-baked version of Rock Band with roaming around levels just for the heck of it. Perhaps the worst part of the game is how the characters look, with the models being bad and the environments being basic at best.
13 Good: Treasure Planet: Battle At Procyon
Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon is arguably the most creative Disney game on the list. Taking the concept of Treasure Planet, the developers turned it into a real-time strategy game in space.
That alone makes it worth the price of admission.
Add some genuinely impressive graphics and music along the way, and it becomes a game that should’ve gotten more recognition. Unfortunately, much like the film that inspired it, Treasure Planet: Battle at Procyon was left on the shelves, with few people remembering it.
12 Weird: Dalmatians 3
Dalmatians 3 is one of the oddest games ever made. It’s technically based on 101 Dalmatians, but wasn’t made in association with Disney. The game was made by Phoenix Games, and they have an interesting track record. The game itself is a collection of mini-games that don’t belong on a console like the PS2. There’s a coloring game, a memory match game, and even a puzzle game: none of which had any thought put into them. Whatever you do, don’t get this game, even as a joke.
11 Weird: Disney’s Tarzan: Untamed
Disney’s Tarzan: Untamed tried to do something special with the Tarzan film, but the result is so odd. The game has you control Tarzan through a series of platforming levels where you swing on vines and climb up to new areas. While that sounds exciting, the game is constrained, having a “dynamic” camera angle that insists on locking itself at certain spots throughout the game, forcing you to play by the camera’s rules. That’s all without mentioning how scrawny Tarzan’s model is.
10 Good: Disney’s Pocahontas
When it comes to the 2D platformers based on Disney movies, Disney’s Pocahontas is probably the least impressive of the bunch. Where games like Aladdin had dynamic backgrounds and visuals, Pocahontas feels bland by comparison. It still has some good-looking animations and environments, though. It also has an interesting take by slowing down the gameplay a bit, having players utilize the title character’s skills at traversing the environment. It’s a neat game, but it falls short of the others in the genre.
9 Weird: Disney’s Dinosaur
Dinosaur was a weird movie, to begin with, but it got even weirder with the PC release of Disney’s Dinosaur. This game had you take control of various dinosaurs from the film (both recognizable and not) as you traversed a series of top-down levels collecting items.
That was all there was to it, as you would just be hurled into the next level.
The models were okay at best, but the environments were just bad. It didn’t help that characters like Aladar moved so slowly that it was a chore to beat each level.
8 Weird: Wreck-It-Ralph
As a celebration of video games, one would think that a game adaptation of Wreck-it-Ralph would be a slam dunk. It’s ironic, then, that the resulting game is just odd. Featuring some cutscenes that aren’t horrible, players are thrust into poorly-rendered 2D levels where they can swap between Felix and Ralph. Apart from the graphics looking awful, the game just banks itself on the gimmick of changing characters. It doesn’t do anything interesting with either of them, leading to an experience that’s as slow as it as painful.
7 Good: Tron
The Tron games were some of the best on the arcade. Period. It was a simple concept, having players make a line as the traversed a square arena. They couldn’t touch the walls or their own trail, sort of like a competitive version of Snake. The formula proved to be a success, and many developers are still applying the formula in their own games today. There were also other modes that would have players shooting through obstacles to add more options to the mix. All in all, it was a fun game.
6 Weird: Tangled
Another day, another shameless cash grab of a movie property. The Tangled video game, as expected, sucks away all the charm from the film to create a weak action/adventure game with poor graphics and gameplay. One of the worst things about the game is the fact that Rapunzel’s hair has a weird physics system. It will often clip through walls and moves on its own. The game tries to emulate it behaving like real hair but messes up royally. The game also uses audio from the movie with the models from the game, and it all just falls apart.
5 Weird: Lilo And Stitch: Trouble In Paradise
If there were ever a more blatant rip-off of a game than Lilo and Stitch: Trouble in Paradise, we’d be shocked. The game simultaneously is a cash grab on Lilo and Stitch as well as Crash Bandicoot. The levels are linear hallways where Stitch can spin to break jars and attack enemies.
He collects coffee mugs with a sound awfully similar to Crash’s Wumpa Fruit.
What’s worse is that the game is a worse version of the game that it rips off, with poor texture work and ugly models.
4 Good: Cars
No one would be surprised if a game based on Cars would be bad. However, it comes as a shock to us that it’s actually good. Instead of throwing players into a series of bland racetracks, Cars gives players access to an open world full of missions to do and challenges to complete. More control options are unlocked as the game progresses, the graphics are halfway decent, and players can even drive backwards during races. It’s a surprisingly well-constructed game.
3 Weird: Princess And The Frog
Princess and the Frog is a movie that leads to a game that doesn’t know what it wants to be. After all, how would you make a game from that film? Well, the game was designed to essentially be a collection of mini-games in the style of Mario Party but with a consistent narrative to follow. It’s a weird mix to try and combine these two styles and it doesn’t work. It also doesn’t help that most of these mini-games feel like they were thrown in at the last minute to try and pad out the time it took to beat the story.
2 Weird: High School Musical: Making The Cut
High School Musical was one of Disney’s most popular franchises for a time, so it makes sense that a lot of games would be made about it. Arguably the weirdest one is High School Musical: Making the Cut. This game has a story conveyed entirely through text while awkward pictures of the characters are put above it to make it seem more authentic. On top of that, it’s a rhythm-based dance game that doesn’t have solid input, meaning that players have to be slightly offbeat to get perfect scores. Need we say more?
1 Good: Monsters, Inc.: Scream Team
Monsters Inc: Scream Team delivers more context for the Monsters Inc world while using it as a template to create a solid platformer that does a better job in some areas than other games of its kind.
There are bright colors, heavily varied environments, and controls that work quite well.
Instead of going for a level-based formula, this game tackles the open-world style and succeeds. Players have to find collectibles in each world that allow them to advance, encouraging exploration and experimentation. It’s a great time.