Five Things We Learned From Disney's Magical Quest

By Aaron Matteson in Five Things, Humor, Lists!
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 1:00 pm


Disney's Magical Quest -- the sultan outfit lets you know how magical it is.

Disney has a twin association in the minds of many modern consumers. On the one hand, it has become a gigantic corporation with hands in a multitude of media pies. Its attempts to connect with the children of the world are often soaked in visible pandering, and in the eyes of the latest Disney-backed stars and starlets you can sometimes see the bleak souls of the marketing team behind the scenes.

But no matter how many cryogenically frozen moguls they hide or racist movies they try to explain away, the fact remains: Disney has created (and will likely continue to create) some of the greatest family-friendly icons in the history of modern entertainment.

Just look at Donald Duck! On paper, sure, he's just an incomprehensible, furious water fowl. But in practice he is one of the more adorable, hilarious little dudes you will ever come across. Or Goofy? What is his deal, anyway?

But of course the crown jewel of the Disney canon is Mickey Mouse. And Disney, being the calculating mega-company it is, of course would want to insert Mickey into as many video games as possible.

One of the most memorable is Disney's Magical Quest starring Mickey Mouse, where Mickey has to rescue his dog Pluto from the clutches of an evil autocrat. And, damn it, Disney taught us many things in this classic game.

1.) Having multiple vocations can be a positive thing.



Good thing I know sultan magic, otherwise this spider would be tough to beat!

Often the word "career" is used to denote a single series of closely related jobs that one holds in succession until one is able to buy a house and a dog and a Toyota and a pogo stick for little Jimmy (and the operation Jimmy will require when he attempts a mid-air dismount of said stick). The idea here is stability -- you have a very specific skill set and a place in the universe where you can exercise those exact skills in exchange for a paycheck.

But more and more, people are eschewing the traditional linear career path and dabbling in a variety of areas, resulting in less stability but a broader range of abilities.

Just look at Mickey in Disney's Magical Quest. Sure, his main occupation is beloved cartoon character. But if Mickey hadn't had that stint as a volunteer firefighter or that short-lived but memorable period as a magician's assistant (he still pees his signature red shorts a little at the sight of broomsticks), he would have no way to get through this video game. He would burn to death in one of the game's many fires, or get eaten by a giant spider. So it's a good thing that Mickey's diversified his skill set!


2.) The face of evil is recognizable.




Mickey, transported into a strange world and in search of his buddy Pluto, keeps seeing the same face.  Depending on your frame of reference this face is either the face of the Steamboat Willie bad guy or the face of Goofy's malicious suburban frenemy in Goof Troop.  His name is Pete, and he rules this strange universe with an iron fist.

In fact, such is his influence in this magical place, that all the bosses, from glowering arachnids to fat pixies to huge totemic ice heads, all bear his likeness.  Mickey can see instantly that there is no reasoning with these entities: he can see the evil right on their faces.


3.) Adventure comes in different brands.



Adventure -- dandy style.

Mickey here assumes several different identities, most of them are the stuff of childhood dreams. A firefighter! A wizard! A... dandy mountain climber?

Look, dandy old-style mountain climbers may not be in the top five list of ideal careers for six-year-olds.  They may not even be in the top twenty. "Dandy Old-style Mountain Climber" may not even outrank "Badass Sanitation Worker" on most kids' lists.

But when you think about it, that would be pretty cool. Swinging from ledge to ledge, feeling death at your heels as they kick at the void! Conquering the peaks of the highest mountains! Showing off your fancy mountain clothing to native people in high-altitude environments the world over!

It's no astronaut, but it wouldn't be bad.


4.) We value wisdom and compassion in our heroes.


Mickey -- a wise fireman.


Strength is great. Nobody is saying that heroic figures shouldn't be strong of body, because everybody knows Hercules went over pretty well in the hero realm (including Disney, who made a movie about the guy).

But wisdom is just as important. Mickey kicks a moderate amount of ass in Disney's Magical Quest, but it's by no means a bloodbath. What's compelling about his adventure isn't the bodies he leaves in his wake, it's the devotion with which he pursues his buddy Pluto and the smarts that he has to employ to get through different situations using different skills.


5.) Magic has practical applications.



Pete's regime does have the support of pasta sauce lovers everywhere.

Look at that tomato! Whatever other problems his rule may pose, famine is not going to be a problem under Emperor Pete.

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