Remembering Disney Interactive Studios

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In this day and age, it’s no secret that Disney is bigger than it’s ever been before, with the recent smash hits of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Zootopia, The Jungle Book, and Captain America: Civil War (all of which I HIGHLY recommend you go see, by the way). They’ve also managed to breathe new life into their television animation department, producing great shows such as Gravity Falls, Wander Over Yonder, Star vs. The Forces of Evil, and…

…okay, they’re making great shows for the most part.

But regardless, being the humongous entertainment industry titans that they are, you’d think that the medium of video games is one that the Mouse House would effortlessly conquer. You’d be wrong. Very, very, wrong.

As of two days ago, Disney announced that not only were they to pull the plug on its’ Infinity line of figurines and games AND shut down the studio responsible for said figurines and games, but they were also to lay off a total of 300 employees in their video game division, Disney Interactive Studios. While the fate of the aforementioned studio wasn’t exactly made crystal clear, it’s obvious that the fallout of this decision will have extremely dire consequences for it in the long run.

If you ask me, honestly…this is kind of a tragedy.

Of course, you all probably know by now that I have a rather….problematic history with licensed games. However, believe it or not, there is such a thing as a game made to mooch off of the success of a TV show, movie or product that can actually be good. Games such as TMNT: Turtles in Time, the Simpsons arcade game, The Flintstones: The Treasure of Sierra Madrock and Cool Spot are just a handful of examples for this trope. However, if there was one company that truly and fully emphasized this idea, it was the Mouse House themselves.

If you might recall, back in March I had a little marathon (a “Disney-Thon”, if you will) dedicated to games based off of various Disney properties in celebration of the release of Zootopia. Why exactly am I telling you this? Well, it’s because during that very month, I gave a bad rating to just one of the games. The rest were all positive, or at the very least, decent. You know why? Because although they knew they was pretty much were pretty much cash-ins, they still knew that just having a recognizable brand wouldn’t automatically make a game good; they still had to put in a ton of effort into the design, the programming, and the graphics in order to make a game that is worthwhile, thus giving the player something to keep coming back to. And lo and behold, they did!

Even if there still was a bunch of crap, this sparsely-utilized, but excellent mindset has still managed to carry over throughout the years. Does anyone remember those two Spider-Man games for the PSX? How about SpongeBob: Battle for Bikini Bottom? Better yet,  what about the freaking BATMAN: ARKHAM SERIES? Heck, there’s even some upcoming licensed games that show some promise! The upcoming TMNT game by Platinum looks like loads of fun, Lego Star Wars: The Force Awakens is shaping up to be a welcome addition to another great series of licensed games, and if rumors are to be believed, Sucker Punch (yes, THAT Sucker Punch) might be deep in development of a PS4-exclusive Spider-Man game.

Even some Disney games as of late, while nowhere near as consistently good as they were back then, are enjoyable. The DuckTales remake was a great nostalgia trip that reminded people why they loved the game and the show, the Castle of Illusion re-imagining was an impressive modernization of the 1990 Genesis platforming classic, and who could forget the Kingdom Hearts series (speaking of Kingdom Hearts, I do wonder what is to become of the third game)?

In conclusion, Disney Interactive Studios may not have been a company that broke new ground, but it did accomplish one thing: it managed to set brand new standards for licensed games for many years to come. And for that, I hold it with high regard.

What are some licensed games that you consider to be the best? Be sure to list them in the comment section below, and thanks for reading!

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