You know what? I don’t care what any of you cynical angsty youngsters think—to me, Walt Disney World has always been a magical place. From the time in 1991 when I made my Dad ride “It’s a Small World” with me eight times in a row, to just this past spring when I couldn’t get my friends to go on it more than once, Disney World has provided me with a wealth of memories which I will cherish until the day I die.
Too bad the same cannot be said for its NES counterpart.
Yes, you heard me right—this game is actually based on Disney World itself (or, more specifically, the Magic Kingdom). You control this little kid in a cowboy hat, who is apparently buddy-buddy with Mickey Mouse. The Big M has assigned you the task of wandering through WDW and collecting six silver keys. These keys open up Cinderella’s castle, where the golden key can be found, which allows Mickey to start up the grand Magic Kingdom parade.
I was very much looking forward to a playful romp within the bowels of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, culminating in an epic battle between my young cowboy and the disenchanted teenager who runs the attraction. I was let down. Not only were there no such epic battles, but Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride isn’t featured in the game at all! Adventures in the Magic Kingdom is a real crime against humanity.
Instead of the levels actually being the rides themselves, it would be more accurate to say that they’re based upon the rides themselves. You’ve got the Big Thunder roller coaster, where you have to ride a mine cart down a steep hill without being crushed by a boulder or having your cart derailed. Then there’s the Space Mountain level, where you have to follow Mickey’s instructions to reach a specific planet without being crushed by an asteroid or having your spaceship blown up.
Also, there’s the Autopia (what the heck ride is that?!) level, where you have to race to the end of the stage before time runs out, or you get driven off the track. Finally—and this is the cream of the crop—there are levels based upon the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, in which you have to not be killed by ghosts and rescue damsels from their swashbuckler captivity, respectively. Arrrrrr.
The astute among you will note that I said there are six silver keys to obtain, and yet I only mentioned five levels. You don’t obtain the sixth key by merely surviving a level—this one’s a lot trickier: You must answer several Disney-related trivia questions. You get unlimited guesses at answering the questions, but they change every time you get one wrong, and there’s over forty different questions.
Also, they’re based, obviously, on 1980s Disney trivia. Being born in 1985, I had no idea what most of these questions were talking about. Using the “eenie meenie miney mo” strategy I perfected in my high school World Cultures course, I was eventually able to answer all of the questions I was given; but this task is easily the hardest of the six. Unless you’re really old and were in your post-toddler stage of life during the 80s.
The levels themselves are borderline fun. Autopia is just too easy to be enjoyable, but I enjoyed the Pirates of the Caribbean level enough to warrant multiple plays. (Well, that and I just like pirates. See: GameCola Volume 2 Issue 10 – “The Pirate Issue”.) The other levels range from “bleh” to “okay”, but really—how much can you expect from a Disney World game that doesn’t even let you ride on the Teacups?
This game’s musical score really angered me. Capcom could have easily implemented digitized forms of “Grim Grinning Ghosts” and “A Pirate’s Life For Me” and it would have added some fun recognition to the title; but nooooo, they had to compose original tunes for the game that pale in comparison to true Disney songs. The best we get is a version of the Mickey Mouse Club theme that plays during the introduction, and even that wasn’t done very well. Capcom had a wonderful musical template to work with when creating this game, and they somehow managed to blow it. At least the sound effects are almost okay.
Graphically, the levels are slightly above decent (The Haunted Mansion’s visuals are reminiscent of Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins), but the overworld (aka Walt Disney World) is featureless and barren. The only aesthetic difference between the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and that of Big Thunder are that one features a Jolly Roger. If you didn’t already know the name of the game, you probably wouldn’t know that you were looking at the Magic Kingdom.
Adventures in the Magic Kingdom won’t be spending much time inside my NES. This isn’t necessarily because it’s a bad game; rather, I’ve nothing left to accomplish after beating it. Without its Walt Disney World facade, this title is just a bunch of mediocre games pasted together with an ugly world map. I was really hoping that the game could capture some of the magic that the Magic Kingdom has for me, but this just wasn’t the case. Still, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom isn’t a “bad game”, per se—it’s just not as good as it should have been.