Adventures in the Magic Kingdom
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • NES
  • Developer:
    • Capcom
  • Publisher:
    • Capcom
  • Released:
    • US June 1990
    • UK 12/10/1992
Score: 60%

This review was published on 02/23/2017.

"Adventures in the Magic Kingdom" is a side-scrolling platform video game developed and published by Capcom for the Nintendo Entertainment System. It was originally released in North America in June 1990, Europe on December 10, 1992, and Australia in 1992. This is part of a series of games that Disney licensed Capcom, creators of Mega Man, to develop for the NES. Most of these games were based on Disney's animated intellectual properties, such as DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Darkwing Duck, and The Little Mermaid. However, not all of them were based on a particular property, as this game clearly demonstrates. Many of these Capcom developed Disney games were quite good, but DuckTales ended up being the best of the bunch, selling over a million copies on the NES, making it Capcom's best selling game for the system. The same can't be said about Adventures in the Magic Kingdom, which may very well be the worst Capcom developed Disney game on the NES.

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As the title and box art indicate, this game is supposed to take place in the Magic Kingdom portion of the Disney World theme park, which exists in real life. Despite that, it looks more like Disneyland from Anaheim, California. At any rate, the game asks you to name yourself at the start, and you assume the role of a little boy wearing a cowboy hat who isn't related to any of Disney's properties. Once you're done naming yourself, you'll have a conversation with Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy, the three most prominent Disney characters. Mickey states that it's time for the big parade, and asks Goofy for the golden key to unlock the central gate. Naturally, Goofy goofed things up by accidentally leaving the golden key inside the Enchanted Castle, but the castle's door is also locked. In order to open the castle, six silver keys must be found, which Goofy misplaced in the park's various attractions. It's now your job to clean up Goofy's mess by getting all the keys.

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When you finally get into the game, you'll be presented with an overhead view of the park that's reminiscent of town exploration in RPGs like Dragon Warrior. Using the d-pad, you'll be able to walk in the four cardinal directions to explore the park, which acts as the central hub to access all the attractions. Simply walking into a non-playable character will cause them to talk to you. Strangely, the park goers ask you random trivia questions about Disney related stuff, and you're awarded with one of the silver keys if you answer them all correctly. Some of the questions are actually pretty tough, but thankfully, you can keep trying until you get them right. The rest of the silver keys must be obtained from the attractions. If you press the select button, you'll bring up a menu screen that shows your current lives, keys, and stars. Stars are found in the attractions and can be used to purchase certain power-ups on this same screen, like extra health, 1ups, temporary invincibility, and the ability to briefly freeze all nearby enemies. With the exception of 1ups, these power-ups can only be purchased during certain attractions.

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There are five attractions in all, most of which are mini-games with different rules and controls. However, two of them, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, do play like stages from side-scrolling platform games. These two have you walk left or right by pressing those directions on the d-pad, down to duck, and you jump by pressing the A button. Your only means of attack is to throw candlesticks with the B button. During The Haunted Mansion, you have a limited supply of candlesticks, but can get more throughout the stage. The goal of The Haunted Mansion is to reach the end and beat the boss. Unfortunately, the bad level design makes this a chore. There's a long section near the end of The Haunted Mansion where you have to ride on tiny floating platforms while avoiding enemies, and if you're hit at any point during this, you'll be knocked into the bottomless pit below. If you die, you'll have to do the whole thing all over again. To make matters worse, you've also got a tight time limit.

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For the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, the objective is to rescue all the villagers and light a bonfire at the end. Finding them isn't too terribly difficult, because the stage is fairly linear and you'll likely stumble onto all of them without really looking. The problem is that you're totally unarmed for most of this stage, and there are loads of enemies. You'll often find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place with nary a thing you can do about it. There are a few barrels early on that you can push into foes to defeat them, but this is hardly an adequate means of self defense. Like The Haunted Mansion, you can only take three hits before you die, and you must start all over again if you do. You do get a weapon near the end in the form of an unlimited supply of candlesticks, but you're basically done with the stage by that point.

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Big Thunder Mountain is another unsatisfying attraction. For this mini-game, you'll be controlling a train from an overhead perspective as it races along tracks down the mountain. All you have to do is press left or right on the d-pad to turn in those directions when there's a crossroads, and pressing the B button slows you down. The goal is to choose the correct path and reach the end intact, avoiding obstacles like boulders that'll get in your way. If you get hit thrice, you'll lose a life and must start over. Besides turning in the nick of time, slowing down is the only other way to avoid danger, but you can't go too slowly, because you're timed. There are countless dead ends along the way, and reaching one also costs a life and forces you to start over. Because you can't see too far ahead, there's no way to determine which track is the correct one until it's too late. In other words, this is literally a game of trial and error, and that's not enjoyable.

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One attraction, Autopia, plays like a racing game with an overhead view. It's similar to those Micro Machines racing games on the NES, except far less good. Left and right on the d-pad lets you turn in those directions, while up and down in conjunction with the A button allows you to shift gears up and down. You hold down the A button to accelerate and press the B button to hit the brakes. Despite the racing motif, the objective of Autopia is simply to make it to the end of the track within the time limit. Slamming into corners, hazards, and other racers doesn't damage you, but it does slow you down, and the time limit is strict. The only real danger is falling off the track, which forces you to redo the whole thing. Parts of the track will often be missing, forcing you to jump off ramps to cross the gaps, but you'll fall to your doom if you don't have enough speed when going off a ramp. The other racers will also deliberately try to crash into you every chance they get, sometimes throwing you off the track. If it weren't for the horribly stiff controls, this mini-game might have been halfway decent.

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In the Space Mountain attraction, you're given a first-person view of the inside of a starship, with the vast emptiness of outer space being visible through the cockpit's main window. There are two monitors displaying information within the cockpit. The top monitor has a letter on it, from A to F, which indicates how much progress you've made and how close you are to completing the mini-game. The bottom monitor will show different directions and buttons, which correspond to the d-pad and buttons on your controller. The rules here are disgustingly simple: you must follow the bottom monitor's instructions by pressing the correct button on your controller with the right timing. If you get the timing or input wrong, you'll take damage; three hits and you're out. It's basically nothing more than a game of Simon Says, or DDR without a dance pad. This mini-game is about as fun as doing your taxes.

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Basically, this game is just a big advertisement for Disney's theme parks, which it does a pretty poor job of. The game attempts to dabble in far too many genres, not doing a particularly good job at any of them. It's better to do one thing well than do a myriad of things poorly, and this game sadly opts for the latter. There's no reason to play this, so don't.

Word Count: 1,490

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