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Gamer Tuesday

January 29, 2013

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: A Disney Fighting Game?

Do you guys remember last year when From Screen to Theme was bidding farewell to Snow White's Scary Adventure, and I wrote about the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fighting game that appeared as a clever joke in Mickey Mouse's Runaway Brain, and how the concept was so out there, there was no way Disney would actually create it? Well, turns out that at some point there WAS an attempt at developing a Disney all-stars fighting game!

Much like in the film industry, many ideas are developed and presented to publishing companies in the video game industry. And also like the film industry, many of them fail to make it through. Sometimes the concept is so quirky that the publisher fears they might not recover the costs, while others feel the game does not meet with their game development philosophies. Such is the case with Disney Interactive, and the Disney name overall. Even if Disney does at time go out of their comfort zone to partake in ideas that are weird yet revolutionary, they know that sometimes the audience expects something specific out of them, especially if Disney stories and characters are involved. This is why the first idea development sketches for Epic Mickey portrayed a Disney world that was dark and twisted, but the end result was something much more tamer.

In a news story about the many games Disney Interactive went through before and around the time Epic Mickey was in the works, some sketches were discovered that showed off a new kind of game: a Disney fighting game. The game sketches are as follows:

Disney fighting game

Right away, you can see a common theme throughout. Had Disney gone through with the project, the game would have primarily featured characters that were apt to be presented as fighting characters. While most of them are villains, characters like King Louie and Beast appear in the roster due to their wild and at times violent behavior. This shows one thing about the game: Disney would have only allowed characters that fit the concept. Certainly you wouldn't put Mickey Mouse, the Disney Princesses (except maybe Mulan) or the cute sidekicks in a game all about beating each other up. The characters shown are known to have violent tendencies, so their behavior in this would-be game wouldn't have been as shocking. And yet, this would have limited the number of characters as they had to be able to mold with the high octane gameplay.

On the plus, this would have allowed the developers to pick characters that Disney themselves often forget about, because either their film was not a success at the box office, or because their appearance was so minor they are easy to dismiss. It made me happy to spot Long John Silver from Treasure Planet and the Horned King from The Black Cauldron. And with the game being all about the fighter Disney characters, we would have seen the likes of Gaston (Beauty and the Beast), Facilier (The Princess and the Frog) and maybe even Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

But a good concept must also come with an excellent gameplay mechanic. In the case of this game, the Disney Fighting Game would have borrowed elements from Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Series. To give you an idea of what I am talking about, let's briefly examine the series. In 1999, Nintendo released in North America a game that was dubbed as the ultimate Nintendo fan's dream come true: a fighting game featuring the Nintendo characters. Finally, all those �Mario could totally take on Link and beat him� arguments could be answered. What really drove the game to popularity, though, was the gameplay. It was far from a traditional game as it allowed up to four players at once. Instead of a life meter, the characters had a damage meter. The more damage they received, the higher their chances of being knocked out of the stage.

It was such an easy concept to understand that it allowed anyone to easily master it, unlike a traditional one-on-one fighting game. It was so successful that Nintendo would release two more games, with a fourth one underway for the 3DS and Wii U. Not only that, many other companies have tried to capitalize on the concept and create their own mascot driven games. And that is where the Disney Fighting Game would have experienced some problems. Even though some of the best developers tried to re-create the Super Smash Bros formula, many of them have come up short to the quality of Nintendo's series. These character sketches don't suggest how the mechanics would have worked, but it is likely that it being a character driven game, they would have gone with the SSB ideas, and thus it wouldn't be the same.

Finally, there's the subject of fan acceptance. Remember what I said earlier about what fans expect out of Disney? Well, would fans have accepted a Disney fighting game with mostly villain and obscure characters that mimics, but doesn't exactly replicate, Super Smash Bros? We may never know. It certainly would have been exciting to see, and laugh that the brief joke on Runaway Brain became a reality, but we may never know at this point. The best thing about this, though, is that ideas are never really forgotten at Disney so who knows if eventually they will revisit this and tweak it so it fits the standards Disney is known for.

But what do YOU think? Would you have liked a Disney fighting game or would it have been too violent for the Disney name?


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