With the release of Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, we’re one step closer to reaching the long-awaited Kingdom Hearts 3. Despite never producing an official third game in its nearly 15 years of existence, the Kingdom Hearts series has served as the most notable way to get your Disney fix in video game form since the turn of the 21st century. But, in the years preceding Kingdom Hearts’ debut, Disney and video games made for a perfect match, turning out plenty of quality releases that usually bucked the trend of lousy licensed products. If you have a craving for worthwhile experiences starring classic cartoon characters, check out these five great Disney games that aren’t Kingdom Hearts.
And, while you’re at it, be sure to watch this trailer for The Disney Afternoon Collection, an upcoming compilation of the greatest Disney-based games from the NES era!
Capcom brought us plenty of great Disney games throughout the 8 and 16-bit eras, but DuckTales stands as the only one to jump nearly 25 years into the future. In 2013, the publisher saw fit to dust off this much-loved 1989 platformer for a whole new generation, giving it a modern makeover in the process. That said, outside of adding a unique final level, developer WayForward barely touched the design of the original, and thankfully, this late ’80s platformer remains timeless. This remake also contains the last performance of actor Alan Young performing the voice of Uncle Scrooge, making Remastered even more special.
Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers
While DuckTales stands out as a great single-player platformer from the NES library, 1990’s Chip ‘n Dale: Rescue Rangers set a new standard for 8-bit multiplayer games. Though you can go through Chip ‘n Dale on your lonesome, this classic is best experienced with another player to add to the cartoony chaos. Rescue Rangers amounts to a fairly short game, but its small collection of levels exude inventiveness, and take full advantage of the stuff-tossing mechanic that stands as the chipmunk protagonists’ one means of offense. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Capcom/Disney joint without an amazing chiptune soundtrack to back up the action.
The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse
Though their graphics may look dated today, Capcom’s NES Disney games stood out as some of the finest-looking creations on that platform. As expected, Capcom took this same approach when working with the Super Nintendo, and their first Disney game on this console, 1992’s The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, still looks amazing to this day. And it even expands on the fairly simple design of previous Disney platformers: Mickey can jump and toss objects, but he can also change into a variety of costumes that give him unique powers. Magical Quest received a Game Boy Advance port in 2002—and added Minnie as a playable character—but this fantastic game has been MIA for the past 15 years. It may be wishful thinking, but this one really deserves the DuckTales Remastered treatment.
Quackshot Starring Donald Duck
Capcom might have held the exclusive rights to make Disney games on Nintendo consoles, but that doesn’t mean Sega kids were left behind. In 1990, the Genesis saw Quackshot, an original platformer that cast Donald Duck in the role of an Indiana Jones-style explorer. Not only did Quackshot give Donald a starring role a few years after being shoved to the side in the DuckTales cartoon; it also gave Disney’s famous duck an inventive plunger gun as both a weapon and a way to reach higher altitudes. Over the course of his 80-plus years on this planet, Donald wouldn’t receive very many starring roles in video games, so we’re lucky Quackshot stands up as a great 16-bit experience all these years later.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Before Sonic the Hedgehog could define a generation of 16-bit platformers, Castle of Illusion came into being as another excellent take on the rodent-based side-scroller. Though the design doesn’t aspire to anything overly ambitious, this Mickey Mouse outing made for an absolute must-play when it entered the Genesis’ growing library in 1990. And, seeing as it received a proper and fairly faithful remake in 2013—one supervised by the original creator—you can choose to play Castle of Illusion in its original 16-bit glory, or in a souped-up form with polygonal graphics. Regardless of your choice, it’s always nice to see one of these old Disney games make the jump into the future when so many others have been left behind.