NO SPANDEX SATURDAY: Can the magic of Disney Afternoon appeal to new audiences?

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First off apologies to anyone who missed #1 reviews this week. Business commitments kept me traveling and away from writing anything other than news these past few days. I will be back to it next week as we get set for Wondercon. Though I would be damned if I was going to miss my Saturday rant. Been wanting to talk about this new Disney Afternoon resurgence for awhile so let’s get to it.

Earlier this month publisher of big triple-A video games, Capcom, announced the upcoming release of a new classic games collection. The games featured in this Disney Afternoon Collection bundle were first available on the Nintendo Entertainment System. DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, Chip n Dale’s Rescue Rangers, and Tale Spin were some of the most popular cartoons of THE golden era of after school TV for kids that marked the early to mid 90’s. With video games being a rising commodity at the time, it was a no-brainer to crank out money grabbing tie-ins. Surprisingly, some of these games were even fun to play. But that was over 20 years ago. With the generation who originally purchased these games having grown up and for the most part either matured beyond those titles or out of gaming completely, does Disney Afternoon have a chance of being successful in the market?

The financials will be answered best by Capcom post-release of the new bundle. What could be behind the decision to even do it in the first place? Certainly, Disney’s choice to once again license their properties to developers and publishers had something to do with Capcom’s move towards investing resources on porting old games anyone with PC savvy could have acquired through various means already (Not all legal and nor do I condone piracy). The rerelease of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 has yet to chart in and significant way on the top downloads list for PlayStation (Xbox remains TBD after only relaunching on Xbox Live at the beginning of March). This release does have a few features going for it which could give it an advantage over Marvel’s fighting game. The Disney Afternoon Collection comes in at a lower price point than UMVC and has the caveat of not being previously available on this generation’s hardware or the last (Not counting DuckTales Remastered for PS3/Xbox 360).

Then there’s the all-powerful nostalgia factor. A force that on its own can push consumerism. Look at just about every trend that’s ever existed, some factor of remembering a time long ago has something to do with its popularity at the time. Even recently, Nintendo’s own screw up with the NES Classic that no one can seem to buy proves there’s always a market to sell our childhoods back to us. Even if the technology is inferior to what it was 80’s.

Capcom has done more with the Disney Afternoon Collection than simply sell you a ROM files with different button mapping. They’ve added subtle and rewarding features to the games in this bundle. A rewind feature has been added to recover from blunders, making the games more accessible for first-timers along with the new Boss Rush and Time Attack modes which include online leaderboards if you’re the competitive little league dad type. History buffs can enjoy a wealth of archival content to celebrate the era of the original releases such as concept art, advertisements, character art, and music. When you consider you’re paying $19.99 for six complete games:

Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 1&2

Darkwing Duck

DuckTales 1&2

TaleSpin

The whole package does sound promising. If Capcom really wanted to maximize profit from this bundle they’ll also be looking to bring it over to Nintendo’s E-shop for the Switch. Thus far, nothing has been announced.

There’s little doubt the game will sell well among the older video game crowd fueled by warm fuzzy lunchbox memories and a segment people who do that dapper bats day stuff at Disneyland. The unknown is how younger audiences who have no emotional connection will respond to these retro games. Comics, which is the most welcoming medium has had problems finding new audiences for old properties at times. When Darkwing Duck comics were being published by Boom! they were critically and commercially well received. Later continuation under Joe Books was a different story where the series is being discontinued. Out of all the IP that Disney Afternoon spawned, Darkwing Duck has the most universal appeal. It’s essentially Batman. Drake Mallard, an average joe with disposable income begins a crusade against crime. He even adopted an orphan. It should be able to land in any medium that has a crossover audience with comics. For whatever reason it didn’t. The other shows were fine for their time but could feel a bit dated now. TaleSpin probably couldn’t be made the same way today. Some kid’s parents would inevitably sue Disney when their pride-and-joy plows into a car after trying to air waterski just like that child endangering bear would let Kit do in the cartoon. Remember that chubby rat who would go straight up heroin fiend for cheese in Rescue Rangers? Can’t do that today. Personally, I did love the crime boss, Fat Cat, though. Memories!

Let’s not forget there’s a brand new DuckTales cartoon series coming. Capcom’s investment in licensing and development of new features for these classic games could be a test of the waters to see if two audiences would come out for a brand new game based on a Disney cartoon property. It’s the most likely scenario as to why these games are coming back now. Though the final green light to getting a new DuckTales game would be decided upon by how big of an audience the reboot show lands and what that demographic looks like.

How cool would it be to get a partnership between Disney/Capcom/Telltale on a new DuckTales episodic game series? Your decisions as Scrooge McDuck would determine if Huey, Dewey, and Louie will grow up to drown you in your own money bin. Wow, that got dark quick! Sorry, I’m just preparing myself for next week’s third episode of the Walking Dead game series.

Like a lot of you, I have fond memories of coming home from school and parking myself in front of a TV to watch Darkwing Duck and most of the Disney Afternoon toons. I’ll definitely be checking this game out when it releases on April 18. Maybe… it might not even be the end of selling the 90’s back to us. Who’s to stop Fox from partnering with WB and releasing a bundle of their own containing EEK The Cat, Bobby’s World, Tiny Toons, and Animaniacs?

Now that I’ve said that, hey Fox and WB do that sh**!

 

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. “With the generation who originally purchased these games having grown up and for the most part either matured beyond those titles or out of gaming completely, does Disney Afternoon have a chance of being successful in the market?”

    The same people who grew out of comics, right?

  2. I don’t think appealing to new audiences is the goal at all; the audience for this package is exactly the same people who bought them 25 years ago: people who played Nintendo and watched the Disney Afternoon when they were kids.

    If you don’t think there’s a market for 1990s Disney nostalgia, go take a look at how Beauty and the Beast is doing at the box office. If you don’t think there’s a market for 1990s Nintendo nostalgia, see if you can find a store that has the NES Mini in stock.

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