A New Challenger Approaches!
In this special Disney Week edition of Picture This, I’ll be discussing Disney Legends, a Super Smash Bros.-type fighter featuring iconic Disney characters! A fighting game is often only as good as its roster of characters, and there’s no better source to pull fighters from than the Disney Vaults. While you could probably just make a straight-up Super Smash Bros. clone with Disney characters and call it a day, that would make for a boring article, so I figured I’d put on my thinking cap and see how Disney Legends could stand out on its own.
The biggest change would be this: you don’t just fight by yourself. Taking a page from the MOBA scene: imagine when you pick a character, that character comes with a small army of NPCs. Mickey Mouse could have an army of broomsticks, Belle is backed up by the living upholstery, Hercules is inspired by the Muses. These extra combatants on the stage perform differently, with some following your lead while others move about sporadically. Some deal damage to opponents, some grant buffs or nerfs to nearby players, and some could even alter gameplay physics and mechanics. Understanding and dealing with these support characters will be just as important as doing the same for the other player combatants.
Given that this would be a 4-player brawler, each player and their NPCs would spawn in one of the four corners of the stage. This would be another major difference for Disney Legends- you don’t knock your opponents off the stage. Instead, each character has a certain amount of health, and when that health reaches 0, it’s lights out. Characters will have varying skill sets, with some hitting harder, some moving faster, and some taking more damage. Balance between the three attributes (Strength, Speed, and Shield) would be of paramount importance, else the gameplay feel unfair.
Throughout the stage will be health pickups for your Legend and power-ups for your support. The power-ups need to be acquired and brought to your NPCs. This could lead to interesting plays as combatants strategize when to fight and when to upgrade their army. Whereas these power-ups appear randomly at specific spots in each stage rather frequently, every so often (as with the Final Smash in Super Smash Bros.) a rare Icon will appear. The first player to acquire the Icon harnesses its ability, as each Icon has its own unique and powerful effect. The magic hat from Fantasia could grant the player the ability to control a burst of magic energy. The magic lamp from Aladdin could summon columns of lava. Or the lion symbol Rafiki paints could cause a massive stampede, stomping out enemy combatants.
Just like the character roster, there’s no shortage of iconic objects that could have awesome and powerful abilities. Cinderella’s glass slipper, Woody’s hat, Cinderella’s poisoned apple; the list goes on and on. With varying characters, multiple types of upgrades, and all-powerful Icons, the brawler gameplay could easily become nuanced and complex, yet still accessible for anyone to pick up and play.
The characters themselves would play pretty similar to Super Smash Bros. Each character would have strengths and weaknesses based on the aforementioned attributes, with a rock/paper/scissors style balance between them. The stronger characters (Simba, Hades, Sully) are slower, and take time to wind up their attacks. The fighters with stronger shields (Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, Wreck-It Ralph) have moderate speed in both movement and attack but deal less damage. The speedier characters (Aladdin, Elsa, Mulan) have the least amount of health but are difficult to hit and fast-attacking.
Being that this is still a Disney game, the presentation needs to have a light-hearted and kid-focused aesthetic to it. Characters would basically be ripped straight from their respective films and cartoons, with any live-action characters (see example: TRON) being tastefully recreated as animated ones. I picture the violence to have a Cel Damage vibe to it, with plenty of wily animations and silly effects. It could be a really cool touch, too, if one of those “rumble clouds” could start to form around a focused area of combat. As for the stages, they would be basically the same as Super Smash Bros., but Disney-influenced rather than Nintendo. And whereas Super Smash Bros. has gone on to become a pretty serious fighter, Disney Legends would have a very family-friendly and innocent tone to it.
If Kingdom Hearts has proven anything, it’s that Disney’s iconic characters are malleable enough to adapt to any kind of medium, especially videogames. As this is a solely Disney endeavor, Disney Legends would be multi-platform, with (hopefully) a strong development team behind it making sure balance and polish are two areas that aren’t skimped on. With a solid fighter roster, unique and challenging NPC units, and well-designed stages with varying functional items and power-ups, Disney Legends could be a unique fighting game experience. While it may not succeed in dethroning the king (nice try, Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, maybe shorten the name next time), it could still deliver a unique Disney experience that’s fun for both kids and adults alike.