2014, for me at least, will go down as the year that Disney gave me things I didn’t know that I wanted. Rewinding back to when Guardians of the Galaxy was announced I scoffed at the idea, thinking and possibly not alone on this, that it would be Marvel Studios first flop, and certainly not (as of this writing) the second highest grossing film of 2014. Now the same can be said of Disney’s last animated feature film, Big Hero 6, something I was rather worried about early in the year fearing it wouldn’t be done in time for its November release with the first two trailers only really showing off two of the six team members. I saw Big Hero 6 last night, and without getting into a full review, it’s funny, heart-warming and a visual splendor that you should really get around to seeing in the theaters at some point.
A thought that crossed my mind, other than how I want ALL of the Baymax toys and how I’m grateful I saw the film late in the evening so I couldn’t buy a Baymax plushie in a joy-filled haze, is that this cast of characters would make some great video game characters, but not for this era of smart-phone, freemium and First-Person Shooters, but in the era of Disney games like Tarzan or Toy Story 2 where plat-formers were all the rage. Each member of team exudes so much personality and are just so visually stunning to view in motion that the thought of jumping around and collecting widgets in some late 90’s 3-D game with them made me wish something like that existed. Watching Hiro armored up for the first time and flying on Baymax 2.0 brought back the wonder of watching Tony Stark lift off from his lab for the first time back in May 2008. I kept thinking “I would so love to play this at home.”
And you can play Big Hero 6 at home currently, in not one, but three different ways: Big Hero 6: Battle in the Bay on the 3DS/DS (which I reviewed,) as part of the Disney Infinity 2.0 Toy Box (for just Hiro and Baymax though) and as a match three puzzle game on iOS in the form of Big Hero 6 Bot Fight but neither of these I feel are how these characters deserve to exist in the interactive medium. Disney Infinity, as I’ve explained in my review, is great for people who want to create, but not for those who really want to sink their teeth into a meaty experience with the play sets barely even providing an appetizer. As far as the plans are for present time for the cast Big Hero 6, there’s no play set to speak of in the works, nor any plans to have the rest of them appear as figures. Go Go, one of the standout characters at least to me, is a missed opportunity with her Sonic like speed and unique disc based weapons.
After seeing the film I actually felt like I was a little hard on Battle in the Bay as that game did a pretty good job for what it was. Developer 1st Playable captured the powers and look of the character, especially Fred, or Fredzilla, who in the movie more or less bounces around and shoots fire, which is exactly how I played him in the game when he was the character choice for a particular level. But like I said in my review, even though the developer accurately recreated the characters and what they can do, the onus is still on them to do something interesting with them and they failed in that respect.
That leaves Bot Fight, the freemium puzzle game, which I will give it this, at least it’s free and not a full priced game like another film related puzzle tie-in that I’ve already spoken about. I can’t really see a kid or adult is going to see Big Hero 6 with the likes of Baymax, Go Go, Hiro and the crew and say “man, I wish I could match up three colored items and pay micro-transactions with these characters.”
With each of these three examples it hits me with a sad reality that this is how Disney does video games now, which is why they’re now profitable for the first time in years in their video game division according to recent reports, but maybe it’s just a sign of the times where kids are growing up with mobile games and not console games like I did. Outside of the Lego games, I’m at a loss of a franchise of games for young ones, okay, Skylanders and Disney Infinity, but I should rephrase to “a franchise for kids that’s not based around selling toys.” In the same way we grew up on Disney films in my generation, for me the likes of The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Hercules which may be different for someone else of course, we also grew up with Disney video games. Some of the earliest games I remember playing on the NES were Capcom’s DuckTales and Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers and eventually moving onto games like Aladdin on the SNES. For a different generation, perhaps after mine, I’m sure games like Hercules, A Bug’s Life, Tarzan and Toy Story 2 on either the PSOne or Nintendo 64 played a large part in their ongoing gaming development experience.
Had it came out a different time, I can imagine kids, or heck, myself running to a local game store to pick up a Big Hero 6 game for something other than a handheld gaming device but I wonder if such a thing would even have a place in today’s game market. Games are skewing older and older and kids are seen as something to sell figures to and little else. The cast of Big Hero 6, with their distinctive look, cool gadgets and diverse characters could be a great return to the golden days of Disney games, especially in the wake of the popularity of everything super hero and Marvel.
I just hope Disney saw that in the property the same way I did this weekend.