Imagine yourself as a game developer: you want to make great products that'll entertain millions. But you're kinda lazy, so instead of coming up with original ideas to captivate your audience you decide to blatantly rip off pre-existing IPs. Let's say they're all Disney's. Just an example that JonTron over on YouTube came up with.
Now, this would be a pretty dangerous move for those of you living in places that operate under the same jurisdiction as this corporate giant. In fact, you'd be sued out the ass. But there's one place that delights in its separation from the US, a place where bootlegging Disney games is not only the norm but a booming industry: China.
Essentially, game developers throughout history have been copying licensed Disney games for years, sometimes making significant changes, but mostly stealing character sprites, level designs and original music. So let's see what they've been up to, shall we?
Rip-Off Disney Games That'll Bootleg Your Mind
The Lion King (1995)
First up we have The Lion King, a game that will undoubtedly have Disney fans perplexed even by the title screen:
Is that a bipedal lion? Why does it state that it's the copyright of The Walt Disney Company when we know it isn't? And...wait a minute. This looks an awful lot like the title menu for The Jungle Book on the NES.
Oh, it is.
And yes, the Chinese bootleg version actually kept the same music. They simply replaced Mowgli with a lion. Nothing else was altered and we genuinely have no idea what was going through so many heads.
Perhaps the prologue will explain these strange resemblances.
"Mowgli begins his journey THROUGH the lion?!" WHAT?! The creators have simply replaced "the jungle" with "the lion" probably assuming that any reference to The Jungle Book should be replaced with The Lion King. English proficiency: level 10.
The Lion King 5: Timon & Pumbaa (1996)
This here was released for the NES/Famicom by Dragon Co. as a sequel to their first ever release, The Lion King III: Timon & Pumbaa...wait a minute. What happened to...never mind.
Okay, everything seems relatively normal here. I mean, aside from the fact that Timon appears to be the size of a grown man as he flails around on Pumbaa's back, but whatever. Let's see where they're going with this!
Okay, we've got a character selection screen. Everyone's looking familiar and cute. Simba is recognizable. Pumbaa has some charm. Timon looks...wait.
Where are his ears? Why is he wearing a bowtie?! The other two look fine, did the developers simply ignore the film when it came to Timon? *sigh*
Anyway, let's take a look at the gameplay.
Anyone else freaked out by Simba's image in the bottom left? Freaky. But aside from this little oddity the game itself is a pretty standard platformer. It's super glitchy of course, but there's nothing untoward here.
:O :O :O
WHAT?! Why do the individual characters' 'Game Over' screens feature them killing themselves? Simba actually hangs himself, Timon is seen crying as he digs his own grave and Pumbaa dives into a boiling cauldron full of hot water. Was this necessary? I love The Lion King and its characters and I'm sure anyone who bought the game would have felt the same way. So why do I need to see Simba commit suicide?! Answer: I don't.
The Lion King II (Unknown)
Yes, China is obsessed with The Lion King. But they still haven't nailed what the film was actually about. Or where it was set.
Apparently we're in Ancient China now, so that's a thing. It makes no geographical sense, but it's a thing!
This game was made for the SEGA Genesis and it actually shares something with Lion King 5:
Macabre 'Game Over' screens. Here we see Simba hanging from a rope in some bizarre medieval dungeon. He's clinging for dear life and your decision to keep playing determines everything. But... why though? In fairness, this is light in comparison to what comes next.
I can't. I can't.
Why on earth is Simba floating across the sky on a Swastika-laden blimp in a game called The Lion King II?! Not to mention that this is the last thing you see in the game. Seriously! Once you disembark the blimp and head off screen, the game physically ends. You see Simba and Mufasa staring at the sunset and the game ACTUALLY ends. What's the significance?! Is it a joke? Is this real? I need to lie down...
Snow White & the Seven Clever Boys (2006)
Let that image sink in. Just let it sink right in.
This image from hell comes to us from Phoenix Games, a developer that's considered to be one of the worst in the history of the medium. Unlike the other games on this list Snow White & the Seven Clever Boys actually originates from Europe, but its oddities are no less intense.
See what I mean?
The game itself is absolute nothingness, it's merely a bunch of interactive coloring books, sliding puzzles and other awful mini-games. But its art style is so unbelievably strange and for a game that was made in 2006 this is simply unbelievable:
This is a fully licensed video game created in the 21st Century that essentially featured a golliwog as one of the dwarves in Snow White. Sorry, I mean "clever boys." Where to even begin, folks? Well I guess we could start by never buying the game and potentially burning any copy that managed to survive its time on actual store shelves.
Frozen Games Galore
I'm not even going to bother describing these internet mini-games that focus on Disney's Frozen, the horror speaks for itself.
OKAY, I had to chime in on the last one. Why on earth would you play a game that featured you cleaning out truly awful wounds on Elsa's feet while she lies in bed smiling and heavily pregnant? I don't understand why these two concepts were considered synonymous. Why does she need to be pregnant? Is this a fetish thing? It's not supposed to be, this is a website for children!!!
I need to watch a Disney movie now to wipe these from my mind...
Which of these games hurt your younger self the most?
For more on Disney, be sure to check out this Mario Kart/Disney crossover and this delightful collection of video game facts you (probably) didn't know!