Disney has been no stranger to the video gaming industry. In the early days of computer games, Disney boasted interactive storybooks with “CD ROM technology” that allowed you to be a part of the story. Early movie tie in games were well done. I remember an early Toy Story game that I played on the computer that had a variety of levels, mostly platformers that were fun but also challenging. This, as well as other titles like early Aladdin and Lion King video games, kicked off a whole era of movie tie in video games where each movie got a video game release that put you into the story. The problem with these games is they were often watered down versions of the storyline that really didn’t provide an immersive enough experience to make me feel like I was actually in the story.
Movie tie in videos games eventually stopped and so did Disney console and PC games. When I researched Disney video games, the amount of games that came out for PC and console were few and far between. The big releases were massive successes. Epic Mickey and Epic Mickey 2 were critically acclaimed and loved by fans. A Mickey Mouse platform and puzzle game with shades of early Disney nostalgia and steam punk park attractions was a hit with players myself being one of them. The biggest hit in the console gaming sector was Disney Infinity. This game brought in all characters from Disney, Pixar and eventually Marvel and Star Wars in a sandbox game where anything was possible. Players could create literally anything and Disney would create challenges to encourage people to create games and lands for people to visit. The added fun of collecting actual figures was also something that fans loved. Sadly this was discontinued due to copyright issues.
This does not mean that Disney has been idle in the gaming industry. They have leaned heavily into mobile gaming with many different successes. Disney Emoji Blitz gave fans a fun fast paced puzzle game with the opportunity to acquire special Disney emojis. Disney Heroes Battle Mode and Disney Sorcerer’s Arena are strategy based combat games with a deep cast of characters. (I currently play Disney Sorcerer’s Arena and love it). Disney Magic Kingdoms allows you to recruit characters and build your own Disney theme park. Disney Mirrorverse is an upcoming Disney mobile game with a reimagining of characters and honestly I love the look of them. For the past 5-7 years this has been Disney’s bread and butter. A recent announcement though has me wondering whether Disney might be trying to get back into the console and PC world.
Disney Speedstorm was announced on February 9, 2022 on a Nintendo Direct. It will come out on the Nintendo Switch and PC based on the recent annoucements. This is a Disney racing game where you pick a Disney/Pixar character and race around Disney themed tracks. Each character has special power ups and abilities that can turn the tides of race. Confirmed characters at this point are: Mickey, Donald, Jack Sparrow, Sulley, The Beast, Belle, Mulan, Elizabeth Swann, and Baloo. The trailer is short and doesn’t show the breadth of the game but even just the small look has me excited. You can watch the trailer here.
Why am I excited? This feels like something that I could sit down and play for hours. I love Mario Kart and have put many many hours into mastering the gameplay. This feels like Disney’s Mario Kart. The tracks look well done and well themed. The character design looks sleek and each character is well designed as a racer. I could easily see myself playing for hours online mastering every track and raging as a last minute power up knocks me down from 1st to 4th place. It’s such a simple concept with endless replay value and easy ways to spice it up down the road. Add new characters. Add new tracks. The possibilities are endless. The recent mobile games have a really wide cast of characters that are playable. For example, in Disney’s Sorcerer Arena, currently Milo Thatch, Demona, Hermes, Pain & Panic, and Madam Mim are all playable characters. This is on top of all of your favorites but it’s nice to have the option of playing some deeper cut characters. It makes it easy to keep people coming back and if the company makes it DLC, it makes a little money down the road too. Very little is seen in the first trailer so I’m hopeful soon we will see a more full length trailer with more characters and features.
Why am I nervous? It is free to play meaning there has to be some way that the game makes money. Certain characters may be pay to use. Certain cars or other accessories may cost extra. This is very common in mobile gaming where the game hooks you in and then offers you smaller transactions in order to get ahead. My fear is that the game will be too limited in the free to play version. If I only have access to 3 characters and 2 tracks for free, the replay value goes down as the gameplay will start to feel stagnant. However, one advantage this allows is for a mass amount of people to try and the game and then purchase more after they have a good time. Many people would easily spend $40-50 for more characters and tracks as that would be the cost of a console game any way. Still the idea that I could have to spend an indeterminate amount of money to unlock the entire game makes me nervous.
Will this game have the staying power? Will the game be what I think it will be? Will I spend every night playing 2 hours of Disney Speedstorm? Who knows? But seeing this trailer announcement gives me a small ray of excitement and I am going to bask in it.