Kingdom Hearts III is rocking the gaming world. One of the ultimate crossover franchises, this series has spent over a decade bringing together the worlds of Final Fantasy and Disney. It would almost be appropriate to rank the Kingdom Hearts games by themselves, but we decided to take the time to branch out some more. It may be a surprise in our contemporary day of branded shovelware, but Disney actually has a healthy history of quality video games. While there are more than plenty when it comes to stinkers too, here are some of the best video games based on classic Disney IP. And, also, Kingdom Hearts .
We’re getting this one out of the way early. While the original game shows its age in a lot of ways, it’s also timeless in its position in history. A game like this just didn’t exist before Kingdom Hearts . It’s high concept, anime fantasy mixed with that distinct brand of weird, janky Square action game. Then, it ballooned into an enormous mythology that continues to grow in transmedia complexity to this day. While getting into the series is nice and intimidating no matter where you start, there’s no denying the impact Kingdom Hearts has had, and continues to have, since its PlayStation 2 debut.
There’s a reason we’re specifying the console here. A real obvious reason. There are two “main” Aladdin games, meaning the ones people cared about and were the good ones. The one for Sega Genesis was developed by Virgin, and Virgin had money. While the gameplay itself had its issues, the masterful execution of everything else of this game is what helped it stand out. The Virgin Disney games actually had Disney animators working on the sprites, and the music by Tommy Tallarico is as close as you can get to the real thing from a Sega Genesis. What you get out of that sentence depends on your knowledge, but either way, it’s impressive.
Here’s the other one. While Aladdin for the Super Nintendo didn’t have the Disney involvement and visual budget that the Sega Genesis version did, this one was developed by Capcom. And the people at Capcom know how to make good video games. While it’s much less movie-adjacent, the platforming action here is, while not the best Capcom has ever delivered, certainly high quality. It doesn’t always get the same level of props as the Genesis version does, because people remember things like impressive fidelity a lot better, the Super Nintendo verison deserves a shout out just as well.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about Darkwing Duck . Yet, it’s on the list. It doesn’t have superb graphics or music, and like Aladdin it’s not the best in terms of gameplay. But, it’s basically a low-rent Mega Man game. And, of course, a low-rent Mega Man game is still a good-ass video game. With some extra mechanics and some seriously intense boss battles, fans of the Mega Man brand of run and gun action will definitely enjoy spending a few hours with Darkwing Duck .
It may come as a huge surprise to you, if you’re a fan of niche Japanese video games, but Goof Troop is one of the earliest projects under the wing of Resident Evil bigwig Shinji Mikami. It’s an extremely clever 2D, isometric puzzle game with fun mechanics and the secret best Disney character that doesn’t get nearly enough love in video games. Goofy is the best, okay?
Castle of Illusion
Castle of Illusion is getting the respresentation here, but it’s really standing in for what is actually a multiple game series. These are simpler platformers from the earlier days of Sega hardware, and the second game deserves credit in particular for being nice and breezy in an era of super difficult games. These games, developed by Sega, are known for having excellent visuals and music, with top-notch gameplay and design to match. A remake of the first game is also available, although it’s a little too clean for our tastes.
Disney Infinity is a little tough to recommend, since it’s literally a dead series now, but when it was live, it was awesome. Despite some awkward business decisions leading to the untimely demise of the series, the figures were excellent quality and the gameplay itself was a fun mix of family-friendly RPG work and platforming action. You could grind your favorite characters for hours, level up your skills, and just have fun goofing around the open world. Then you could admire your collection of awesome figures. Now, that last thing is really all you can do.
The 16-bit era is home to many classics and original ideas. This one comes from the bizarre fixation the Japanese Disney fanbase has with Donald Duck, and the folks in game development loved to find new ways to represent the guy. Here, he’s a goofy tourist who could transform into a ninja. He has a gun in his weird tourist form, and a staff that would allow him to swing from platforms as Maui Mallard. It was a game with cool, dark visuals, excellent animations, and a cool, jazzy soundtrack. Check it out!
QuackShot comes from the same school of Donald Duck action as Maui Mallard , but it’s more of a platforming adventure with a gun that could do all kinds of weird stuff. This is a Sega-exclusive, unlike the multiplatform Maui Mallard , therefore it possesses many qualities that defined the Sega experience. That means weird, but good music, huge, detailed graphics, and a big ol’ budget.
You bet your ass DuckTales is on the top of this list. This is Capcom at an all-time high, with an amazing soundtrack and excellent tight and responsive gameplay. Of course, the wonderful world of DuckTales often stood out on its own. Look no further than the recent-ish Wayforward remake to see how much staying power this game has, with its more bombastic soundtrack based on the original, expanded level design and opportunities to revisit the original stuff too.