Along with creating many beloved characters, movies, and theme park attractions, the Walt Disney Company has also produced a whole host of great video games featuring their famous animated characters and fantastic feature films. From action-platformers to quirky puzzle games, the products of Disney Interactive have delighted players for years.
But as charming and enchanting as Disney’s best games are, there are those outliers that fall into some seriously strange territory. Whether it’s due to concept, content, presentation, or outlandish storylines, some Disney games like to take a walk on the weird side. For every classic platforming game, there’s a Disneyfied pet-sim right behind it.
There was a time where toys-to-life games were excessively popular and despite the appeal of the characters, worlds, and powerups this game provided, Disney Infinity, unfortunately, ended before the 4.0 edition could be released. Watching Disney characters interact with others of their kind wasn’t the strange part, it was the overlapping of franchises that made things weird.
Watching characters like Mickey and Jack Sparrow race karts with each other isn’t nearly as strange as seeing the likes of Mike and Sulley do battle with Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Avengers. This was practically a Disney buff’s dream game, but it was sadly a passing fancy.
Disney Universe was essentially Disney’s answer to the LittleBigPlanet series of games, but where some games might have players assuming the roles of famous Disney characters like Simba, Jack Skellington, and Stitch, this game features colorful avatars wearing those characters as costumes.
Essentially a collection of party games disguised as puzzle-platforming levels, the game was obviously trying a little too hard to be another title, but that’s not to say it lacked imagination. Not many games feature a rail-shooting level through the Pridelands trying to take down a giant robot Scar.
Disney Villains Revenge
This game was a CD-ROM title that featured an interesting premise but delivered on it in one of the strangest ways imaginable. The title poses the idea of what would happen if the Disney villains won in their classic stories, but the game that young players received might not be the adventure they had in mind.
While it features levels such as defeating Captain Hook in a swordfight or breaking the Evil Queen’s magic spell, it also allows players to restore Alice’s head and save Dumbo from the ringmaster’s gang of evil clowns. It’s easily one of the strangest takes on the Villains’ franchise.
While it was nice to see Mickey return to his classic pie-eyed-inspired form, this game was clearly not the average Mickey Mouse comedic escapade. On one hand, fighting the forces of an evil monster that he unwittingly created in the first place doesn’t sound like the Mickey adventures fans are used to. On the other, it was a bit of a cult favorite.
There’s no denying that the game had a very interesting setup, premise, and gameplay mechanics, but seeing Mickey cast in a darker light was very unusual for the character. Watching him destroy bosses with paint thinner is still a bit of a weird pill to swallow even after two sequels.
Kingdom Hearts Series
Yes, it’s one of the most popular Disney games of all time. Yes, it has a massive fan following from a variety of players. Yes, it spans over thirteen titles. But the Kingdom Hearts series is one of the strangest games in or out of Disney to try to explain to those not washed by the waters of the franchise.
On paper, the anime-inspired realms of Final Fantasy should not mix so well with the animated worlds of Disney. Yet after thirteen titles and spinoffs, it’s clear there is a massive audience for it. It might sound bizarre, and it is, but it’s simply a case of “if it works, it works.”
While this title features no licensed Disney characters, its premise is still a little strange compared to some of the other sorts of games the company has released. Guilty Party is a whodunnit-styled mystery powered by a multitude of mini-games set in a giant mansion.
Obviously directed at pre-teen players, there’s much more to this title than meets the eye. It has all the familiarity of games like Clue, but anyone who’s ever picked up a Mario Party title or an Agatha Christie book will definitely be up for a challenge to flex those little grey cells.
Virtual pet games are nothing new, but to see characters like Stitch, Simba, and even Winnie the Pooh join the ranks of the breeds in Nintendogs is enough to raise an eyebrow or two. Disney Friends is essentially a glorified pet sim with Disney characters in place of canine companions, and it’s as strange as it sounds.
The player takes the role of a “Guardian” who is in charge of the well-being of a selection of Disney animal characters. While it makes sense for characters like Dory and Simba to wind up as pets, there’s something a bit odd about Pooh Bear and a Pizza Planet Alien joining the same category.
Fantasia: Music Evolved
To the game’s credit, if anyone can make a game inspired by Disney’s Fantasia, they deserve a medal for creativity. One of the many rhythm games released for the Xbox Kinect, this title brought the psychedelic imagery and musical magnitude of the original movie and mixed it with some more contemporary gameplay elements.
This isn’t just a conductor simulator, this is a musical experience with gorgeous abstract visuals and a gameplay system that encourages goofy flailing in the middle of the living room. Featuring a soundtrack composed of classical hits like “Tocatta En Fuge” to more contemporary classics like “Bohemian Rhapsody,” there’s tons of appeal for this eccentric title.
Maui Mallard In Cold Shadow
Donald Duck is a ninja. That sentence alone could essentially summarize Maui Mallard In Cold Shadow. Gameplaywise, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s an action platformer somewhat akin to Rayman, but the fact that Donald Duck steps up from a comic relief role to an action hero is enough to warrant a mention.
Donald Duck portrays Maui Mallard, a pistol-packing detective on the quest to return a magic idol, who is the alter-ego of Cold Shadow, a cunning ninja with a bo staff. But behind this bizarre premise lives a solid and criminally underrated SNES game that’s long overdue for a modern Disney remake or rerelease.
If weirdness in video games were a competition, Twisted Wonderland has to go home with some sort of championship title. In basic terms, the iPhone game is part dating sim, part visual novel, and part adventure game all starring an academy of anime versions of famous classic Disney villains.
It’s a Japanese-only title, but it’s one American Disney fans will definitely be a little curious about, especially with its upcoming Disney+ anime. From the RPG elements to the puzzle games, to the reimaginings of famous characters, there’s simply so much to unpack about this strange and unusual game.
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