Kickin’ It Old School – Adventures in the Magic Kingdom

If you’re a kid and you don’t like Disney World, you suck. Hell, I’m an adult and I love it! I went there for a weekend last summer and just couldn’t get enough of everything. I went on Pirates and The Haunted Mansion and the race cars and everything. I didn’t go on Space Mountain because it’s too scary (seriously, that old rickety thing is going to collapse one of these days, and I’m not gonna be the one getting crushed by it). By the way, my favorite part of the trip:

Boo ya.

The only thing that was keeping this trip from being a reenactment of one of my favorite games as a kid was finding keys to get in to the castle so the parade can start, but thank heavens they put someone else instead of Goofy in charge of keeping track of those. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Fine, here are some more details.

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES, 1990)

Oh yea, for a Disney freak like me, this game was awesome. The game opens on a picture of Mickey, Donald and Goofy, as the Magic Kingdom’s parade is about to start. But, uh oh, they can’t start it without the Golden Key, which Goofy left inside Cinderella Castle. The Castle is locked by 6 Silver Keys, which are also kept in the possession of Goofy, but he’s lost them. How is he not fired? And by the way, why is Cinderella Castle so fortified? Are there like nuclear missiles hidden under It’s a Small World, and the launch codes are in the Castle? Whatever.

So anyway, it falls upon you (yes, you…you put your name in and everything. Mickey Mouse knows your name! Awesome!) to find the 6 keys, 5 of which are hidden inside 5 rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Autopia, Big Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. The last one is won by answering a bunch of Disney trivia questions. And that’s really weird, since the answers to them aren’t exactly secrets, so why are they asking these to verify whether or not you can be trusted? And if you can’t be trusted, why doesn’t Mickey do all this? As a kid, this was fun, but as an inquisitive adult, I guess I have a tendency to over think this. Let’s just get to playing it and have some fun.

So the game is basically 5 mini-games rolled into one. Each level has different gameplay and different themes based on the ride. Pirates and Haunted Mansion are sidescrolling platformers; in Pirates you go around rescuing villagers, and in Haunted Mansion you’re fighting ghosts with candles. Completing each level grants you a key. The weird part of these levels is your character’s sprite. It looks like Indiana Jones, but for some reason it looks really scared, with wide puppy dog eyes and everything. I guess I’d be scared too if I went on rides in Disney World and the characters were trying to kill me, but come on! It’s a video game, show some confidence!

Anyway, the graphics in these are good. There are several different types of pirates and ghosts to fight, and they’re all pretty detailed. The control is okay, it’s a bit loose but it’s easy to get used to. The only thing I don’t like is the music; it’s not the Pirates theme or the Haunted Mansion theme. That kind of lessens the experience a bit, but otherwise these levels are pretty fun.

In Big Thunder Mountain, you’re in a runaway mine cart and you have to avoid rocks and barriers in order to make it to the bottom, and you have to arrive at the correct station before time runs out in order to win the key. This one is fun, but it’s a bit easy; all you have to do is stay to the right, slow down at various points to avoid the obstacles, and then just move a few spots to the left once you get near the bottom to win. The graphics are alright, but the screen moves too fast to really notice if it’s really good or bad.

Next is Autopia, which is kind of weird…this game takes place in the Magic Kingdom, so obviously you’re in Disney World and not Disneyland. The thing is, Autopia is what the racetrack is called in Disneyland, but in Disney World it was the Grand Pix Raceway, then later the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway, so what the hell? Yea, I’m a Disney nerd. Anyway, in this one, a Disney villain makes a cameo, as Mickey’s old nemesis Pete has stolen a key and challenges you to a race to win it back. This one is really fun, as there are other cars on the track and you get to knock them off the road and into the grass or water or whatever else is around. Awesome!

Last is Space Mountain, which I think is the most fun. You’re flying through space, obviously, and you have to push the right button at the right time in order to move or shoot an obstacle in front of you. If you mess up three times, you lose. This one is pretty primitive as far as graphics go; basically it’s the same as the starfield screen saver on a computer, but it’s fast-paced and fun, and that’s what video games are all about.

Every time you beat a level or lose a life, you’re returned to the map screen, except instead of walking around a map, you actually walk around the park. Every level is pretty much in the same place as it appears in the actual park, if a little scrunched together to save space. Even rides that aren’t playable are represented, like It’s a Small World (and thank God that’s not playable), which is a nice touch. All in all, this game is short, but pretty fun if you’re a Disney fan. There are definitely better Disney games though, like Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse and whatever that RPG series was on the PS2, Kingdom-whatever.

Next time: Bustin’ makes me feel good? More like bustin’ makes me want to punt a puppy across the room! That’s right, Ghostbusters on the NES, the worst game I’ve ever played in my life, bar none.