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Gamer Tuesday

February 12, 2013

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: True Love/Valentine's Week Look at Romantic Moments in Disney Video Games

At both American Disney theme parks, a celebration of true love is underway! And why not? Love has always been the main ideal behind many of Disney's greatest efforts. Whether it be love towards life and nature or towards your significant other, love is one of the many things that fuels Disney's presence in pop culture. In honor of that, today's Gamer Tuesday will be all about the love, most specifically, Disney's most romantic scenes, and how they were presented in their video game adaptations.

As I have stated many times in past Gamer Tuesdays, the best Disney video games, specially those based on the Disney Animated Classics, are those that loyally follow the best moments of the film. They may take some liberties in order to make the scenes fit in the playable format (much like Disney's own movies take liberties in order to tell a story on film), but they make sure to keep the tone and mood of the scene in their own ways. My favorite moments tend to be the romantic ones, where the main characters express their love through song, and in turn become some of the most iconic moments in Disney history. Here is a handful of them, along with how effective their video game counterparts are in retelling them.

Cinderella Video Game

Cinderella: 'So this is love' - Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (PSP)

I simply can't get enough of Disney's Cinderella, released in 1950. It may be very passive and calm in its plot development, especially in comparison to other Disney Princess films, but it's highly endearing lead character, beautiful art style, and romantic music make it one of my all time favorites. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is 'So this is love,' a scene in which Cinderella is finally experiencing the one thing that was lacking in her life: true love. As she dances with Prince Charming, the scenery becomes more and more enchanting, all thanks to the visual talents of Mary Blair. As soon as they almost kiss at the end of the evening, the clock strikes midnight, and thus Cinderella must face reality once more.

Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep serves as the prequel story to the entire Kingdom Hearts franchise, so it made more than enough sense to make the new worlds based on Disney's first three fairy tale films. Square Enix tried their hardest to make sure that their digital Cinderella captured the romance of the film, but it does come with a few sacrifices. With Kingdom Hearts being about the original story mixing with the classic Disney stories, the focus mainly lies on how the characters are playing along with the Disney world and characters. This means that while we do get to see Cinderella arrive at the ball and dance with the prince, it isn't an elaborate scene. It's a very brief scene that starts off by being interrupted by the Unversed. There aren't even that many people at the ballroom! One thing to note, though: both the environments and the characters are lovingly rendered in 3D so at the very least, their expressions and animation are beautiful and almost like classic Disney animation.

Cinderella Video Game

Birth by Sleep, however, does do one thing that the film never did. At the end of the Cinderella story, right after the shoe fits Cinderella, main character Aqua witnesses Cinderella being attacked by the Tremaine family and a haunted pumpkin, which serves as this level's boss battle. When the boss battle is finished, we get a scene in which Cinderella finally reunites with Prince Charming at the castle, and the two of then embrace in a warm hug. The original film cuts to the bells ringing Cinderella's wedding day, lacking that wonderful scene. There was, however, an attempt to try and close the story with Cinderella meeting the prince, but it was ultimately decided that it wasn't necessary. That's the slight advantage Birth by Sleep has over the original film, otherwise it is the one adaptation that is the loosest with the original content.

Snow White video Game

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Snow White wakes up, Birth by Sleep (PSP)

Birth by Sleep wouldn't be a game about Disney's first three films without the one that literally started it all for Disney, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Simply put, it is a great film that combines everything Disney is known for: humor, breathtaking animation, horror, great animation, and, of course, romance. Snow White is a very romantic princess, almost to a fault in the eyes of many. Her one dream is for her prince to finally come and take her to his castle. Looming over her is the presence of the Evil Queen, who transforms herself into an old hag so she could poison Snow White with an apple.

Needless to say, the scenes in the last half are some of the best in the entire film. Between the Dwarfs mourning the princess, and Snow White finally finding her true love, I always cheer and feel happy once it is all over. It is escapist scenes at its finest, the true epitome of happy endings. Unlike the Cinderella story in Birth by Sleep, the Snow White story is followed more loyally, featuring every thing from Snow White's flight through the woods till true love's kiss, which has been recreated almost frame by frame. Even the way Snow White extends her arms as she wakes up, and the prince picks her up is wonderfully imitated. As far as faithful Disney recreations go, this is one of the best I have seen, and a testament to Square Enix's commitment to the animated classic.

Beauty and the Beast video game

Beauty and the Beast: Belle and Beast dance, Belle's Quest (Sega Genesis)

Now onto what I believe is Disney's most romantic movie ever: Beauty and the Beast. First released in 1991 after The Little Mermaid revived interest in classic Disney animation, Beauty and the Beast tells the story of a young woman named Belle, who wishes nothing but to leave her provincial life behind and find adventure in the great, wide somewhere. A few circumstances lead her to become the prisoner of a gruesome beast, who is actually a cursed prince that must learn to love if he hopes to become human again. The film was seen as revolutionary during its premiere, and for many a great reason. Beauty and the Beast presents us a love story about finding love in a loveless place, to be redeemed through compassion and to learn and see other people through their actions rather than their looks. The scene that best sums up all of the film's ideals is when Beast and Belle dance in the grand ballroom, and the two of them are wearing their evening best. By this point of the story, Belle and Beast have stopped seeing each other as prisoner and master, but as friends who have embraced each other's hearts.

The scene has become the 'it' moment that would define the entire film for a whole generation of Disney fans and movie goers, so it comes as no surprise that video game developers attempting to tell the story of Beauty and the Beast as a game try to implement the famous scene in. One of the earliest attempts was by Sunsoft in Beauty and the Beast: Belle's Quest. Their Beauty and the Beast game is unique in that it was two separate games, one starring the Beast (titled Roar of the Beast), the other Belle (Belle's Quest). It is in Belle's game where you get to play in the enchanted ballroom. The main goal is to collect rose petals that are falling in order to obtain the highest score at the end of the level. Truth to be told, as pretty as this digital version is, it is a very standard bonus level. The music is a very low quality digital rendition of 'Beauty and the Beast,' and Belle and the Beast stiffly move around the ballroom. It's not completely awful, though, as the original scene just set the standards way too high.

Aladdin video Game

Aladdin: A Whole New World, Disney's Aladdin (SNES)

And now we come to my favorite romantic moment in any Disney film to date (and any other film as a matter of fact). Disney's Aladdin, while not as big of a game changer as The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast were, was still a very popular film that reunited the best team in animation and music. Even if Howard Ashman had passed away by the end of the film's production, his presence is still felt in the musical score and songs, many of them penned by his former partner in music writing Alan Menken. Their talents would lead to what is, in my opinion, the best Disney song ever: 'A Whole New World.'

Aladdin, now dressed up as a prince, tries to impress a jaded Jasmine, who wishes nothing more than to be loved for who she is, rather than for what she represents: money and power. After many failed attempts, Aladdin decides to just be himself as he invites Jasmine on a magic carpet ride around the world. And boy what a magic carpet ride it was. Even though Aladdin is primarily known as a comedic film, 'A Whole New World' represents the film's highest romantic point as the two leads share a passionate love song on top of exotic locales. I am seriously in love with this song for what is represents: the sheer joy of being in love and sharing brand new adventures and discoveries with others.

You would think that the romantic nature of this scene would make it hard for game developers to try and adapt it into a playable game level, since it is at its core a date scene. Yet, Capcom stood to the plate and greatly delivered in their video game adaptation of Aladdin for the Super NES. Now, there were two Aladdin games released at around the same time that follow the same scenes, but the SNES edges it because it actually has a 'A Whole New World' as a level. Much like in Belle's Quest, the point of the scene is to try and collect diamonds and gems (which means the lyric 'through an endless diamond sky' is turned into its literal meaning) as Aladdin and Jasmine travel through the skies of Agrabah. But unlike Belle's Quest, Capcom did their hardest to accurately represent the scene in the game. The song used is 'A Whole New World,' and the colors and mood of the original scene are spot on. The scene may not be as wacky as Genie's lamp level, or as thrilling as beating Jafar in his snake form at the end, but it shines in that we get the best scene in the film as a solid level, thus making the game more rounded in terms of adaptation prowess.

And that, my friends, are some of my favorite romantic Disney moments and their video game doppelgangers. As you can see, it takes more than technology to recreate a scene, it is all about how you capture it. There are plenty more moments to discover, and all of them have been presented in various manners. That is something I will leave up to you, my dear reader. Happy Valentine's Day!

 

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