Adventures in the Magic Kingdom Review

Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom
Release Date: 1990 Also On: None

Capcom, a company known for some of the greatest games and series of all time, an arcade legend, a console legend, you name it. They first got their start with arcade titles but then jumped right on the NES market pretty much the same year it was released. Back then, you got a Capcom game, you knew it was going to be good. Later on in the 8-Bit era they became synonymous with Disney after releasing some greats like Duck Tales and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. However, few know that though a legendary company, they didn’t always do everything right, nor did they tackle the Disney market flawlessly. What? Let me explain as I go over one of their failures, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom.

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Graphically, this is pretty on par with what Capcom was doing at the time. There’s a nice range of colors, good backgrounds and a fair amount of detail. Some details, however, are pretty tame. Your main character, for example, is animated so poorly I can hardly stand it, it looks like he’s limping or they forgot a frame of movement. It wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to see it so much. Other than this and some other annoyances, it looks pretty good overall, not their greatest work and well below their abilities, but definitely not terrible. It also didn’t seem to have much variety when you actually looked at the overall presentation of the games and what they were, but The Haunted Mansion was fairly impressive.

As for the sound, Adventures in the Magic Kingdom has a great soundtrack that definitely sounds like ‘Disney’. The levels generally have very fitting themes, though I found Space Mountain a bit odd, more of game ending in the way it sounds or even a racing title, it didn’t really suggest space to me. The worst, however, was Pirates of the Caribbean. I really don’t know how to explain it, suffice to say it sounds nothing like swashbuckling, pirates, danger or anything, it sounds more like some sort of obscure Indonesian dance music. Really doesn’t fit. The sound effects all work rather well, but, like the graphics, there are some that sound silly or out of place. In the Pirates level, for example, the cannon shots sound like balloons popping. Poot! Didn’t you just fire a cannon ball? Of particular interest was the theme for the Haunted Mansion, just perfect. Overall, the sound is nicely done, just needed a bit of work in certain areas.

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom is basically a series of five small games within one large game, as well as a ‘run around the Magic Kingdom’ shtick where you have to find people and answer trivia questions, which I might add are sometimes pretty dang hard. If you get the easier ones, though, it will seem childish. The controls are responsive and easy to learn, you can collect stars to bring up an item screen where you can buy things like extra lives and energy and the game is essentially nonlinear in that in your quest to locate the six silver keys to open the gate of the castle so a big party can happen. You don’t have to select the levels in any particular order, you just go to whichever one you want and try it out. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Decent graphics, decent sound, so what’s wrong?

The first thing this game suffers from is poor play balance. The levels are either too easy or incredibly aggravating, requiring you to memorize enemy and obstacle locations to get anywhere. Since you have to start at the beginning of every level if you screw up and lose all your energy, it gets annoying quickly. I was surprised at how much this game pissed me off. The trivia is interesting but doesn’t take long. Space Mountain is a pathetic attempt at having you respond to commands with button presses. Trust me, it’s not challenging at all. Autopia is a pathetic, short, though somewhat fun, racing game that pretty much ripped off Bump ‘n Jump and will pose no challenge at all to even the most novice of gamers. Big Thunder Mountain is an aggravating train ride that takes about a minute but which requires you to memorize pathways until you locate the correct station, otherwise you die and keep playing.

The Haunted Mansion is a very basic platformer but the most fun you’ll probably have here and the most variety. Unfortunately, it also requires a good deal of memorization and leaves no room for correcting your gameplay in the process. For example, you get to this one section where you have to jump on a falling chandelier. Jump too far to the left, and you’ll cause a moving chair to come too soon and have to die to get back to the area to realize you have to jump just on the edge of the chandelier and then move forward so it appears when you can make the jump. Instances like this happen around ten or fifteen times in this damn level, which leads you to progress further, dying, starting over again, going through all the stupid crap, dying and then doing it again until you reach the final ‘boss’, which really shouldn’t have even been here. The worst of all, however, is Pirates of the Caribbean, a pathetic, below sub-par lowest caste in India platformer that is just as playable as the worst of unlicensed titles. You have to locate six villagers and light a signal flare to beat it. Fine, except that you have no attack power until you locate the flare, which is just the same stupid candle from the mansion, and until then have to deal with jumping over pirates and dying numerous times until you get your timing right. It’s just not worth it.

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom is fairly creative. It’s interesting that the programmers decided to have you walking around the Magic Kingdom and even set it up generally as it is in real life, to then have you enter different rides to beat the game as a whole. It’s a great idea, just not implemented very well, at all. In addition, they don’t really represent the rides very well. Space Mountain is a roller coaster, so maybe they could have turned it into some sort of coaster/shooter instead of that lame first-person button pressing crap where you only see a bunch of stars coming at you and an occasional ship or asteroid. Wow, bet that was hard to program. Autopia had a lot of potential but it was basically stolen from another game, as most of these games are. That’s the big problem with the creativity, good idea though it may have been, these games are just rip-offs of things you can find better in stand alone versions. Shame, Capcom, what a waste of a license!

Adventures in the Magic Kingdom isn’t something that I’d really want to sit down and play for fun, though it could have been. Some of the levels are just too annoying and painful to want to play. In addition, once you get everything down and beat it, you’ll find this game lasts only about fifteen minutes at most. The majority of the levels are incredibly short and easy once you get past the memorization, so there’s not really a reason to come back to this at all. I believe it may have been marketed for kids, but I don’t seem to recall this so I won’t worry about it. Plus, some of the levels are so damn hard when you first try them I doubt a five-year-old would have had the patience.

This is really a bummer overall, especially when one considers how many great Disney games Capcom released around the same time in a span of only a few years. What in the hell happened here? I don’t know, but something needed to happen, I know that. There’s only one thing that needs to be said. Back in the NES era, Nintendo Power would feature the best of new games in article form. Those that weren’t so hot were generally in the quick review section or just briefly mentioned. Adventures in the Magic Kingdom was one of them. Anyone back then knew, if a game was back there, hope to god you don’t get it.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 6.5
Gameplay: 5.5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 4
Final: 5.6
Written by Stan Review Guide

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