Disney Adventures in the Magic Kingdom review
Sort of a bemusement park
One game I've always been mixed with on the NES is this one - Adventures In The Magic Kingdom. It can be fun, and it can be very tedious. It may be the first of its kind, but holy hell, to say it set the standards is to say that the Atari 5200 controller set the standards for controllers; it'd be easy to make a standard one because they're nothing short of mediocre. It sucks, too, because it was made by Disney AND Capcom! Aside from Mickey Mouscapades (another mediocre game), Capcom and Disney made a series of excellent games based on various Disney licenses (think Duck Tales and Chip 'N Dale). So how does this one fall below standards? Read on to find out...
Story: The castle parade is about to start, but it turns out that the door is locked, so Mickey can't conduct the march. He goes to unlock it, but it turns out that Goofy lost the six silver keys to unlock the gates. They trust an unnamed little boy in a cowboy hat to go find them so that the parade can start. The story at least doesn't revolve around kidnapped princesses, as well as serves as an exposition so that it can be more than just a collection of mini games, but that's about it. It's nothing really special. Then again, it's an NES game; it doesn't really detract from the quality of the game.
Gameplay: As a collection of mini games, Adventures In The Magic Kingdom offers short bursts of play. You start out in a Dragon Warrior/Final Fantasy-esque overworld setting where you talk to people and answer their trivia questions - answer all of them for one of the keys - as well as enter the five attractions, which serve as the five mini games you have to play for the other five keys.
First and foremost is the racing game. Press Up and B to accelerate, and mash them to go faster. Down and B will slow your car down, and mashing will result in stopping completely, and trust me when I say... you need to slow down and even stop completely in order to win this race without plummeting into lava or ocean. Along with ramps and collapsing bridges, you also have other racers to contend with, and they're pretty aggressive, so be mindful of them, and smash them. The race ends when you die, run out of time or pass the finish line, and only the latter will result in a key. Despite any minor complaints I might have had, this is actually the funnest mini game this has to offer. If you're not having fun with this, don't worry - the next section will be more appealing if you're into sidescrolling platformers. If not, this game isn't for you.
Two more keys are found in two different locations, though both offer virtually the same style of play - platforming, not unlike Super Mario Brothers. There are slight changes, but for them most part, it's Super Mario Brothers, but you use candles as ammunition. You need to go from start to finish while either avoiding or throwing candles at enemies. If you get hit three times or fall down a pit, you lose a life. Sounds simple, but in the pirate level, you have to rescue maidens and light a signal fire at the end, while in the haunted house, there's a LOT of precision jumping and you only have a limited amount of candles at your disposal, plus the haunted house has a (albeit easy) boss at the end. These sections seem a bit intimidating at first, but once you get the pattern of the designs, you shouldn't have many problems with them. These are the last bits of fun you'll have with this game, so cherish them.
Next key is found by getting a train from start to a certain station, and trust me when I say that it takes a hell of a lot of trial and error to get this one right. At first, you won't really know where you're going, but you'll eventually get it. As well, you have to avoid obstacles. This sounds fun, but damn, it's far from it. If you're going fast, you'll get hit, and three hits will ensure death. Same with arriving at the wrong station; death. Going slow seems to be the best way, but guess what... there's a time limit! Yeah, we need time limits, don't we Capcom? This forces you to rush, and since you're constantly moving, decisions need to be made in a snap, and with a time limit, they'll need to be even snappier. This one gets annoying very quickly.
But goddamn, is that Super Mario Brothers 3 compared to this one or what... Next up is the dreaded spaceship level. Input a directional command that shows up on screen, and be quick, or be dead. Three bugger ups, and you die. This is much, much easier said than done, because the timing is nearly inhuman towards the end, and if you found it tedious at the beginning, you'll beg this game to euthanize in five seconds if you don't pass this bit. Very simple, but very frustrating until you get the timing right... even so, it's pretty tedious.
There is a menu that can help you, provided you collect the stars scattered throughout the levels (sans spaceship level). Being able to regain another life or hit point at the cost of some stars is a good idea if you're really struggling... however, I don't see how you could be. I guess the spaceship and train levels if you're not getting the timings right, but other than that, you shouldn't really have too much trouble, because the game is insultingly easy. At first, yeah, a bit intimidating, but after a few minutes, you'll be able to breeze through this game.
Control: Controls, for the most part, are easy to figure out, learn, and get used to. They work finely most of the time, allowing even the more tedious levels to at least have some solid controls, so you can’t exactly say that the controls killed you. The movement controls whilst jumping does feel a little stiff, but it could’ve been worse. That said, it does feel a little short, like you don’t cover enough horizontal ground. Just play these platforming stages, and then play Contra or Super Mario Bros for a few minutes. You’ll see quite a difference, believe me. Not saying the jumping controls suck, but they could be improved.
Graphics: The game looks pretty nice. The colors used throughout are plentiful – by NES standards – and manage to keep your eyes interested, as does the detail of the backgrounds, foregrounds, and the sprites. It’s nothing groundbreaking, for sure, but it at least manages to look nice. The only problem is that it lags during the platforming stages. It’s not gigantic lag, but when there are a decent amount of objects on screen at once, the game slows down a fair bit, and kind of throws you off a little, sometimes during a tough bit. There’s a decent amount of flicker, too. Damn!
Audio: Considering that this is Capcom during the 8-bit days, an excellent soundtrack is inevitable. No doubt you’ll be humming to these tunes while playing, and they’ll stick into your head like glue hours after you play the game. Even the most tedious levels are accompanied by enjoyable tunes, so it’s not as if you have to suffer agonizing torture throughout the game. There is some enjoyability to be had in said tedious levels. As for sound effects, well, they’re normal for an 8-bit game, but they at least entertain your ears.
Replay Value: With a short storyline and only half the game being any fun, this won't be replayed too much anytime soon. There aren't any secrets or anything to do beyond the game itself. Overall, not much is available in terms of extension.
Overall: Essentially, the game reeks of "either it rocks or it sucks" syndrome. It sucks that it's easy and damn short (half an hour? give me a break) and it sucks that it tosses in a couple of tedious bullshit activities, but it makes up for those shortcomings with the platforming and racing levels, as well as a rocking soundtrack and nice looking visuals are where it rocks. Not bad, though.
Replay Value: 3/10
My verdict - Try before you buy!