The Top 7... Kickass Disney games

The Week of Disney: You’re soaking in it! Go ahead and pretend these characters mean nothing to you. Once you’re done lying to yourself, pretending you don’t have no connection with the likes of Mickey, Donald and Goofy, let’s marvel at just how astounding it is that almost every person in the world born in the last century shares some familiarity with these characters of unrivaled legacy.  

Above: By all means, click to enlarge and save as your wallpaper 

When it comes to how well Disney has preserved the relevance of its IP, game developers could learn a thing or two. Adapt to everything! There’s virtually no form of digital or physical matter Disney hasn’t adorned with a Mouse at some point over the last 80 years… Yet, for a brand that’s been hip to games since the medium’s inception, it’s surprisingly easy to nail down the pick of the litter. Seriously, when it comes to games based on Walt’s menagerie of classic characters, there’s a helluva lot a shit better left to rot in the Disney vault. 

Above: More often than not, our wishes fall upon deaf and dumb stars 

Luckily, few properties other than comics and The Bible have shown the longevity of the Disney brand, thus there’s bound to be some diamonds in the rough. So, if that reference carried any emotional resonance, put on those mouse ears and get ready to squeal with childish delight at our salute to the best of the House of Mouse. C’mon… it’s 100 percent Miley Cyrus Free!

7. The Lion King | 1994

At this point in the 16-bit era, licensed games were starting to reveal themselves as little more than happy meal toys in $50 clothing. We were all getting wise to the formula: Slap Johnny Toon-tagonist into a hum-drum sidescroller, add repetitive battles featuring tertiary characters with six seconds worth of screen time, then let the box art do the talking and call it a million dollar day. Bleh.

Above: Dark times, those mid '90s 

Luckily, Virgin Interactive (of rebellious aeronautical billionaire fame) swooped in and elevated The Lion King above and beyond every other digital cliche.

Above: Pastel liberties when stylizing levels after the film’s musical numbers 

Not only were the sprites drawn by actual Disney’s animators, the game even contained impressive (for the time) character voiceovers. We can only speculate as to whether or not Elton John was involved in the accurate conversion of the movie’s award-winning soundtrack, complete with a human choir of able African crooners that sounded so delightful it probably had Paul Simon wanting to retroactively punch his producers in the face.

Every intricate level was designed with all the grace and detail of a classic Disney background, plus they managed to make a coherent game that stuck to the plot of the film. Sure, you start out as a young Simba jumping and meowing at bugs, but once your mane drops you’ll be slingin’ claws and mauling enemies like they’re femmy magicians.

Above: The game is probably most famous for its Wildebeest Stampede level 

Digital Disney Trivia: The Amiga version of The Lion King came on four discs and still had to remove three levels due to size restrictions.

6. Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers | 1990

Oh, this won’t be the only forgotten relic of Disney Afternoon’s past that’ll confuse the hell out of our readers born after the first Bush administration. But that’s a testament to Capcom and the way it worked its balls off to create a meaningful game based on an ephemeral television property that’s still worth playing damn near twenty years later.

“Who the hell is Monterey Jack?” and “Why the hell are Chip and Dale dressed up like John Lasseter and Carmen San Diego?” are certainly valid questions, but irrelevant when it comes to what makes this game a true classic.

The chipmunks’ diminutive stature turned the mundanity of suburbia into more than ten charming levels of lightning fast proportions. Better still, you could pick up and throw damn near any object in the game that wasn’t nailed down, up to and including the person you’re playing with. You could even use projectiles defensively… oh, would you look at that:

Above: Gaming’s first cover system?!

It seems Gears of War owes Disney’s most sensational corporation a debt of gratitude, and not just for the blazin’ two player co-op. Now, before we run this tenuous connection into the ground, we’d like to ask that the Rescue Rangers borrow a page from Marcus Fenix and say to Capcom:

Above: I mean, since you’re already remaking your entire catalog…

Digital Disney Trivia: Rescue Rangers was originally meant to star Bernard and Bianca from The Rescuers.


Top 7


  • idleactivist - August 25, 2011 9:41 a.m.

    I always loved that Inspector Gadget game, I still toss it in and play.
  • azzam - June 11, 2010 12:58 a.m.

    hey i played that chip and dale game! good times
  • ppopopp - October 15, 2009 12:55 p.m.

    What happened to Castle of Illusion? What a beautiful game (on the genesis). Also Sega CD Mickey Mania was worth a mention. Just wondering where those two show up near Chip n Dale.
  • silentsniper2 - September 29, 2009 6:26 p.m.

    oh man reading this review made me feel very old
  • Tomsta666 - September 27, 2009 1:59 a.m.

    I can't believe you put RPG faggotry in front of Duck Tales
  • Lyon85 - September 25, 2009 8:12 p.m.

    "All licenced games suck." At least I thought so until I read this article and realised I played all these games, except Tron 2.0 They really were fun games. I do recall beating Duck Tales and seeing the two endings. I was in high school when Duck Tales came out telling everyone how good It was receving a lot of crap for it and then having guys come up to me later and say "Hey man, I tried that Duck Tales game it's awesome." FUN.. a wish that was something developers today would focus on instead of on-line leaderboards.
  • JC182 - September 24, 2009 7:57 p.m.

    i use to play the lion king game all the time when i had a sega genesis
  • scbyfn4evr - September 24, 2009 4:38 p.m.

    Originial KH was better. Best Disney-related game of all time, i think. I was born in '90, so I was around for the old 2D classics (they forgot Talespin for the SNES) and I still agree with KH as #1.
  • dweller - September 24, 2009 2:57 p.m.

    I've played through Kingdom Hearts twice, and I've stalled on my second play through of Kingdom Hearts 2. I will probably never play Chain of Memories ever again.
  • Ajax89 - September 24, 2009 8:10 a.m.

    hell yeah!!! the lion king and aladdin dominate! they were pretty hard too
  • ConkertheSquirrel - September 24, 2009 4:01 a.m.

    On the final page there is that "Kingdom hearts barrage of memories poster" that lion on the front looks so familiar. If anybody knows where hes from post it cause this may very well haunt me for the rest of my life.
  • Phantasmagorical - September 23, 2009 10:30 p.m.

    I'd like to bring to attention another great Disney game. Mickey Mania on the Sega Genesis. It was made by Virgin Interactive and the sprites were done by Disney animators as well. JUST PUTTIN' IT OUT THERE.
  • Picnic1 - September 23, 2009 7:16 p.m.

    I haven't played all of these games but I would certainly have put World of Illusion(Megadrive) on that list. Forget any notion of Disney tweeness (or also sentimentality)- World of Illusion is a sometimes quite mysterious, classily presented game with excellent music and an original plot (although it also references Alice in Wonderland on one level). It has some great ideas like an underwater level that, later on, is revealed to have all taken place in a goldfish bowl and a colourful flight on a flying cork from a bottle of wine. It's actually one of my favourite games of all time. Quackshot is quite good too.
  • jehanzebnaeem - September 23, 2009 7:37 a.m.

    well, just to say it out loud, I was present when the disney games came out and have been an avid fan of FPSes and TR series and stuff... BUT. I hate Disney characters and cartoony games, I had not heard so much crap since I last talked to some moron about the FF... what is this shit?
  • MattK - September 23, 2009 3:46 a.m.

    That was my very first Nintendo Power, and the first time I WANTED a game based on magazine coverage. And yes, I earned BOTH endings on hard back when I was 10. SO worth it. Kingdom were worth ANY flaw because you gave me Donald Duck and Goofy, my two most favorite Disney characters EVER, as my constant companions.
  • shadowdude - September 22, 2009 10:47 p.m.

    must..... buy... kindom hearts for ds...
  • Conman93 - September 22, 2009 5:12 p.m.

    I prefer kh2 but I can see why people prefer the first one. It was much harder than kh2 which is good but I think kh2 was more epic. Also organization 13 was in kh2 and they are AWESOME. Hail to Demyx!!!
  • KHfan - September 22, 2009 5:06 p.m.

    if you think the first kingdom hearts is better then the 2nd then how come you rated it 8/10 but you rated kingdom hearts II 9/10? KH ftw btw
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - September 22, 2009 2:26 p.m.

    ahhh my lion king game was stolen
  • grumpyDinosaur - September 22, 2009 2:22 p.m.

    Oh man, so many awesome games and memories there. But one game is missing for me, Darkwing Duck! How happen? I thought it would have at least got a mention, of course maybe it's just nostalgia kicking my brain.

Showing 1-20 of 74 comments

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