Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (1990)


If you grew up the 80s and didn’t own or want to own an NES, then either you spent your early years living in a bomb shelter with your paranoid parents, or you were a girl.  And that’s not even true, because girls at least love Tetris, and the NES is so awesome you would have wanted one even if you never knew it existed.
For you grandmothers, the NES was the Nintendo Entertainment System, and it played video games.  Like all video games, it corrupted the nation’s youth with insidious desires to inflict horrible violence on each other, and decimated the literacy rate.  But it also allowed you to fight Mike Tyson, capture the Triforce, and whip Dracula to death.  None of us ever did anything so bold when we were forced to “go outside for once.”  Usually we just lobbed water balloons at passing cars and built dumb forts.
An aesthetically beautiful screen of blue and lime green.
When Capcom decided to fuse forever the NES platform with the magic of Disney theme parks, time actually stopped for a moment and the universe took a good hard look at exploding just for the sheer pleasure of it all.
Moments later, time stopped again when Disney fans realized that Adventures in the Magic Kingdom was actually one of the worst games ever to grace that blessed console, ranking somewhere between those “unofficial” blue Bible Adventures games and the one where you fight Jaws 400 times with your diving knife.
Because normally we keep the parades locked up so that no one can steal them?
The plot of Adventures in the Magic Kingdom is simple enough.  Mickey needs the six golden keys before he can start the parade.  Five of them are hidden in attractions, the sixth can be found by answering a series of trivia questions.  You control a dude who looks like an 8-bit Jungle Cruise Skipper.
This version of Tomorrowland has an inordinate number of umbrellas. By the way, that’s you between the StarJets and Space Mountain.  See?  Jungle Cruise Skipper.
As you venture around the park, it becomes abundantly clear that this game doesn’t really care which park it is.  One of the attractions is called Autopia and there is a rough outline of a Small World exterior, which would indicate Disneyland.  But the game’s art clearly features Cinderella Castle.  Since there’s only five attractions in the whole park, it’s probably based on Hong Kong Disneyland.
Given the size of the car, those are the largest traffic cones I’ve ever seen.
Autopia is your standard Spy Hunter type racing game, a little ironic, since the real Autopia does not give you any leeway for steering off the course.  Beat the race and win a key.  You can then go fight the Pirates of the Caribbean and rescue villagers, but your first 20 minutes of this level will be trying to get your unresponsive skipper to jump onto dry land, since the level inexplicably begins with you in a rowboat.
Dead Men Tell No Tales.
Haunted Mansion requires you to throw candles at various ghosts.  At no time does the game actually resemble Haunted Mansion (or Pirates, or Autopia, etc.).  The Big Thunder level may be the most fun, if you consider random left-right choices to be fun.  Your mine train must successfully navigate a track that is forever detouring into dead ends.
Take the left tunnel, Indy!
Which brings us to Space Mountain.
In this game, you are basically tested on your ability to mimic the computer.  As you fly through space, the screen will blink directional arrows at you, and you must hit the corresponding button within a moment of the arrow appearing on screen.  Never mind the logic of plotting left and right turns through what is essentially empty space.  Follow enough directions and you’ll get a key.
This looks suspiciously like that VR game at the end of Carousel of Progress — without flying ace Grandma, of course.
The last key is the aforementioned trivia question game, and these are decently hard, though not usually park specific.  Sometimes they are ambiguous, such as asking you to name the first film in which Goofy appears.  The answer according to them is “Mickey’s Revue”, but Goofy was still known as Dippy Dawg then.
All trivia games must take place in a darkened room, or they don’t count.
After listening to me talk up this game so much, you no doubt are regretting your decision to ebay your NES a year ago.  No worries, parkeology has searched the worldwide interwebs and found a way for you to play Adventures in the Magic Kingdom online, through the magic of ROMs.
Knock yourself out, and don’t blame me when half an hour later you still can’t get out of the darn rowboat.
All that’s missing is a whimpering, malnourished dog.

Comments (14)

  1. I’ve come back to announce I’d been duped, but I see you beat me to it. 😀 As soon as I saw the date of that game I knew something was up, it being released years before Fantasia Gardens and all. And yeah, it looks a lot like Zelda II.

  2. I was joking about Battle for Olympus having anything to do with Disney parks, but it really is a pretty fun game, though a bit forgotten. It’s an adventure game, vaguely Zelda-esque. I remember it being a good game, but I also remember spending a lot of time going in and out of a cave to fight the same blobbish enemies, as an easy but tedious way to build up my experience points.

  3. I’ve never heard of Battle for Olympus before, but I’ll definitely have to check it out now. Thanks!

  4. George, I have to agree with you that Mega Man is awesome. I have a GameCube compilation that has all of them (up to that point), and it was great, until I sold my gamecube. It will play on the wii, but I don’t have a good controller for it.

  5. bamboo7ster, it is also my favorite game on the NES that involves bad Disney park adaptations. My second favorite is Battle for Olympus, which I’m pretty sure is based on Fantasia Minigolf.

  6. Foxxfur (from us borrow her NES on our last trip. We played AitMK for fun, but we really got invested in Mega Man. I forgot how grueling that game was!

    The Big Thunder Mountain segment was when we decided to stop playing that particular game!

  7. This is still my favorite game. Ever.

  8. Courtney, you and your sisters were a rare breed. I could never get my sisters interested in Duck Hunt, and had even less success with Super Mario Bros. Contra, Castlevania, Wizards and Warriors, Faxanadu… nada. They may have played Arkanoid though.

  9. I agree, Russ. Duck Tales may have the best graphics of any NES game, not just Disney games, and it’s fun to boot. But I also loved Zelda. It was hard, but awesome.

  10. My sisters and I used to play this game. Yes, girls who had a Nintendo. What a shock! I think we played it a few times, but Duck Hunt was more fun.

  11. I tried this out on Facebook recently on NES Retro Games. I had never heard of it, and if I had rented this from Videoland, I would have probably hurled it across the room like I did Zelda. At least Duck Tales, Rescue Rangers, and Darkwing Duck were better…

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