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Gamer Tuesday

July 10, 2012

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Disney Tiger Handheld Games

If you are a child of the 80s and 90s you were exposed to many video games experiences. From the gaming consoles created by the likes of Nintendo, Sega, and Sony to arcades featuring hundreds of cabinets for you to spend your quarters on, it was a great time to be both a kid and a video game fan. Nearly every toy company tried their hand at capitalizing on this video game craze, giving us some choice and unique efforts utilizing many of pop culture's most endearing franchises. And thus we dive into today's subject, the Tiger Handheld Games.

Tiger Electronics was funded by Randy Rissman and Roger Shiffman in 1978. Starting with simple toys like phonographs, the company soon evolved into developing high-tech electronic toys, many which would become staples of the toy industry. Out of this initiative some of the most popular toys ever made were born. Some of these include the Furby, the Giga Pets, and the famous Talkboy (which was prominently featured in the movie Home Alone 2: Lost in New York). They also gained great fame with children with their line of LCD game handhelds.

Much like Nintendo's Game and Watch series of handhelds, the Tiger games were short games meant to entertain in short bursts. They also used LCD screens and character sprites that were pressed upon a set path. The gameplay objectives were also simple, such as avoiding enemies or collecting items in order to gain the highest score possible.

Even with the Game Boy handheld from Nintendo becoming one of the many icons of gaming with titles like Tetris and Pokemon, Tiger released many game handhelds in hopes of attracting a young gaming audience to a great degree of success. But whereas Nintendo's system was more elaborate in terms of technical prowess and allowed for many games to be played on, the Tiger Handheld Games were limited to just one game per system, meaning that you had to buy several handhelds if you wanted to play different games.

Despite those limitations, Tiger continued to produce hundreds of handhelds. They effectively blurred the very thin line between video game and toy. The way the handhelds were designed inspired younger players to pick one up. The buttons were very large, the colors bright and the characters would adorn every area of the handheld. At times they would go beyond and design the whole case to resemble the featured character. The popularity of these handhelds was so big that it led Tiger to create systems based on nearly every franchise in the market at the time, Disney of course being no exception.

You might recall that I once wrote an article about how Nintendo released Disney-themed Game and Watch units in the early 90s, and proved to be wildly successful. Their collaboration with Tiger was similar to that of Nintendo's, giving us handhelds based on almost every Disney movie and TV show that was released at the time as well as some of their other franchises.

Disney icon Mickey Mouse got a couple of handhelds, one of them being in the shape of Mickey Mouse, which was really neat. The films of the renaissance of the 80s and 90s also received Tiger Handheld adaptations. This meant that you could take Ariel, Beast, Simba, Pocahontas, and Aladdin on the go. Even Pixar got into the action and released a Tiger Handheld based on their blockbuster first film Toy Story andA Bug's Life.

The list of Disney Tiger Handheld games produced is as follows:

The Little Mermaid
Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
101 Dalmatians (animated version)
101 Dalmatians (live action version)
The Jungle Book
The Perils of Mickey
Mighty Ducks (based on the animated Disney Afternoon series)
A Bug's Life
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Chip N' Dale: Rescue Rangers

Nowadays, the Tiger Handheld games are seem as relics of nostalgia, some going as far as to collect all the units ever produced. The games would later on be ridiculed for their extreme simplicity in an era ruled by power and creativity on behalf of the big video games companies, but very few can deny the charm of these releases. For many these were the first games they ever played, and the fact that they featured some of the most beloved Disney franchises of all-time made it that much appealing to young kids. It is yet another example of how the Disney name can carry even the most simplistic of efforts and turn them into beloved childhood memories.

As a special bonus, here are the original commercials for some of the Disney handhelds. You can see in better detail how the games were like back in the day:






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