Great Old Gaming Gems – Adventure’s in the Magic Kingdom (NES)

If you ask anyone what their favourite platformer was on the NES, that 8bit console of platforming goodness, chances are they’d say one of the Super Mario games. Either Super Mario Bros or Super Mario Bros 3. However coming in close behind those pesky plumbers would be Duck Tails. It’s a sublime game, made by Capcom, and is no doubt a game we’ll get round to on here at some point. But my focus for this article, and hopefully this series, is the more obscure games. And today’s game, another Capcom developed Disney licensed title for the NES, fits the bill.

Adventure’s in the Magic Kingdom see’s you having adventures in, you’ve guessed it, Disney’s Magic Kingdom. It’s essentially an advert for their theme parks in video game format. Only somehow it manages to actually be so much more than that.

Goofy has somehow managed to lose the big gold key to the castle which means that the parade can’t take place. And not only that to get the big gold key, possibly or possibly not stolen by Panhandle Pete, you need to find 6 smaller silver keys. Truthfully? If I was Mickey I would not trust Goofy with a single job. Ever. Donald was there at the time too. Why not ask him? He’s a grumpy sod but I’m sure he wouldn’t have lost the keys.

To get the key back you’ve got to complete five levels and an additional trivia quest. This, to me, is where the game comes in to it’s own. The trivia quest sees you walking around a surprisingly faithful, bright, and colourful 8bit version of Disney World in a top down Legend of Zelda type perspective. The graphics, for the time, were bloody fantasic. You walk around and see a kid who says hey you’re Mickey’s mate “insert your actual name here!” They ask you a trivia question about Disney. You get it right then they give you directions to the next kid. Get 6 right in a row and you find Pluto and he’s got one of the keys round his neck. Get it wrong… And you’re back to the start. It’s a bit of harmless fun.

Random aside here… How come Goofy is a dog, can talk, and wears clothes? Pete’s the same. Yet Pluto is pretty much an actual god. I can’t be the only one to find that a bit weird?

Next up you go in to the attractions and this is where the game is at it’s best. You’ve 5 to play through, Space Mountain, Autopia, Great Thunder Mountain, The Haunted Mansion, and The Pirates of the Caribbean.

Space Mountain is a 3D, yes you read that right, a 3D space flight game. Well it’s more a 3D effect but it’s still very impressive given that the NES was an 8bit console with a mammoth 2kb of onboard RAM. Essentially here you have to follow the onscreen commands Simon Says style. Mickey says pilot left you press left, right you press right, and so on. This is done whilst avoiding asteroids and trying to shoot down enemy ships by pressing A and B respectively. The only problem here is that the reaction times needed are so quick you end up looking at the box that features the directions rather than enjoying the graphics.

Next up we go to Autopia. Now this is actually a surprisingly good top down racer. I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the best racing games on the NES. The only problem is it’s only one course. It’s hard at first but once you’ve had a couple of playthroughs and learn the course it’s pretty easy. There are lots of opportunities to pick up stars here too. Stars are the in game currency but more about them in a minute.

Great Thunder Mountain see’s you piloting a runaway mine train trying to get to the station. You’ve limited controls at junctions choosing left or right and you’ve a break to slow yourself down to avoid rolling obstacles like boulders. This one is easy once you’ve played through it once or twice. Always stick to the left and you’ll be fine. Plenty of stars to be had though.

The last two levels, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion, are much more familiar fare for those who have played Duck Tales as both are platformers. In The Haunted Mansion you’ve just got to get to the end of the level avoiding ghosts, and random pits of lava, and the like. It’s quite a challenging one this but the graphics, again, are soo good for the era. Pirates of the Caribbean is a platformer that see’s you exploring a village to save 6 villagers from pirates. There’s not a Captain Jack in sight as they all look a little bit like Smee from Peter Pan. Again it’s a tricky platformer here with the difficulty level on the high side.

It’s here where the stars you’ve been collecting come in to play. With them you can buy extra lives, extra continues, and even invincibility if you collect enough. And for the Pirates Level you’ll need all the help you can get.

Once you’ve completed the levels, got the keys, that’s it. You go to Mickey and get a nice animated ending of the parade. Job done. You helped The Mouse get the keys to the Kingdom.

That’s perhaps the reason why this game is largely forgotten today where as Duck Tales isn’t. It’s short, really short, and sadly there isn’t that much replay value. Once you’ve beaten the game for the first time you’ll remember what to do and the next time? You can blitz through the whole game in maybe half an hour at the most. It’ll be a fun half an hour, for sure, but then it’s done. It’s a shame really as with a few more levels this could have taken it’s place as one of the best games on the NES.

If you want to give it a play you can pick up a cartridge for about £10 on eBay. If you want a boxed version with instructions, however, you’re looking at closer to £50 believe it or not. Another annoying things I’ve just found out researching this article is that America had this game in 1990. We here in good ol’ Britain had to wait until 1992, nearly 30 months after it’s original release, to play the game. How crazy is that?!