The Games of The Disney Afternoon Collection

Recently I reviewed The Disney Afternoon Collection.  It’s a compilation of Capcom’s NES titles that were based on shows on The Disney Afternoon, a block of Disney cartoons that aired back in the late 80’s and early 90’s.  I really loved watching The Disney Afternoon as a kid, and I also enjoyed the NES games a lot, too.  In fact, many of the games on this collection are more memorable to me than titles like Mario!  They could’ve called this the Cary’s Childhood Collection!  So I thought I’d go into more detail and share my memories of each of the NES games on this collection, and the cartoons they’re based on.

If you do a search on The Disney Afternoon, you’ll find a lot of people who will gush about it the same way I am.  This was a block of Disney made for TV cartoons that they aired after school during the week.  But these cartoons were special.  They were of much better quality than what was on TV for kids at the time in comparison.  They also had a timeless feel about them and hold up well even to this day.  Another reason why I think so many people my age find these cartoons special is that they were a great way to wind down after a hard day at school.  As adults, I think we forget how stressful school can be.  At least when I was a kid, I found school more stressful than most of my current jobs as an adult!  Of course, maybe that means my jobs are easy now (not really), or maybe I’m better at handling stress than I was as a kid.  All I know is, I really liked The Disney Afternoon as a kid.  I even bought the comic books based on these shows, and I’ve never gotten into comic books before or after that.  Anyway, here are my memories of the cartoons and games based on this great afternoon cartoon collection.


I hate it that Capcom is marketing the Disney Afternoon Collection with “Hey 90’s kids” because half of the cartoons in their collection actually came out in the 80’s.  Plus I don’t want to be labeled as a 90’s kid.  No reason really, other than the fact that 90’s music sucks.  Admittedly, the 90’s did have a lot of great cartoons and video games, so I have nothing against the 90’s.  I was just more of a cartoon-watching age in the 80’s.  Anyhow, DuckTales the cartoon came out at a good point in my life as a cartoon fan.  Before DuckTales, most cartoons in the 80’s were just 30 minute commercials for a toy line, and all of them were not that good.  Sure I got into Transformers for a couple of years as a kid, but it wasn’t long before I was sick of it and I actually stopped watching cartoons there for a while, if you can believe it.

When DuckTales was first advertised on TV, I still wasn’t planning to watch it.  They were going to do a premiere of it one Sunday afternoon with a bunch of episodes in a story arc.  But as luck would have it, on that Sunday they were going to show the new cartoon, I got very sick and couldn’t get out of bed.  So my mom rolled a TV into my room and I watched DuckTales.  I was blown away.  Here was a cartoon that not only looked good and had an interesting story, it wasn’t based on a toy line either!  From then on, I watched DuckTales every day after school for several years.  It was detrimental in rekindling my interest in cartoons.  It was also one of the few times I got into comic books for a while, as Disney published comics based on their Disney Afternoon shows.  It was here that I learned that DuckTales was based on the old Uncle Scrooge comics from the 40’s and 50’s.

The DuckTales cartoon was very successful for Disney.  In fact, this summer they’re making new DuckTales cartoons.  I’m looking forward to watching them, but I’m also a bit skeptical as well.  Mainly because from the preview, the new animation style looks like crap.  But that’s probably because it was animated in Flash and most Flash cartoons look like crap.  I wish it looked more like the old DuckTales cartoons, because they looked SO good, but that’s probably because they were animated overseas by underpaid cartoonists.  One interesting thing is that the new DuckTales will have more of Donald Duck in it.  He was in the Uncle Scrooge comics, but for the old DuckTales cartoon, they kind of replaced his role with Launchpad McQuack.  But Launchpad is in the new DuckTales as well, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do it.

Anyway, as far as the DuckTales NES game goes, I don’t remember how I got it, but I did own it.  Most NES games I just rented back then, but this was one of the few that I owned.  I still have it, actually.  I loved it and played the heck out of it.  And I’m not the only one.  According to The Disney Afternoon Collection, it sold over a million copies, which is pretty good for a third party NES game.  It was so popular that a couple of years ago, they made a Remastered version of DuckTales.  I loved that game, too, and even reviewed it.  If it weren’t for Animal Crossing: New Leaf coming out that same year, DuckTales Remastered probably would’ve been my Game of the Year that year.  Anyway, I must’ve played the NES DuckTales to death because when I played it again on The Disney Afternoon Collection, I was able to beat it quickly and get the best ending, too!

DuckTales 2

By the time that DuckTales 2 came out, I was already more interested in playing SNES games.  As a kid, I couldn’t afford to keep up with games from TWO different systems, so there were a lot of good NES games I missed out on late in that system’s lifecycle.  And even back then, it was obvious to me that Capcom was just trying to poop out a game before their license on it ran out.  But even if that was the case, the game is still pretty good.  Just not as memorable as the first one.  I do like how Scrooge’s cane has more uses, like for pulling objects and hanging off of others.  I hear DuckTales 2 is hard to find now, but what’s cool is that I actually have the cartridge of it somewhere.  About 15 or so years ago, I bought it used before collecting classic games was popular enough to raise the prices to ridiculous amounts.  I wish I would’ve picked up that copy of Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers 2 they had as well!

Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers

DuckTales was so successful that a follow up show came two years later in 1989.  I have to say that out of all the Disney Afternoon cartoons, Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers is my favorite.  Admittedly, DuckTales really is the better show, both on a writing and animation standpoint.  But Rescue Rangers is just cartoon comfort food for me.  Every time I watch it, I just have to smile.  Also, Chip N Dale have always been my favorite Disney characters.  Even when I was a little kid and would rent cartoon video tapes, my favorite was the Disney Chip N Dale cartoon collection.

Another reason why Chip N Dale are my favorite Disney characters is because when I was a kid, I took a cartooning class from a former Disney animator, and he helped create Chip N Dale!  His name was William “Tex” Henson, and he also worked at Fleischer Studios on Casper cartoons, did early TV ads like the Trix Rabbit, but his favorite place to work was where they made the Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon.  After all that he moved back to his hometown in Texas to be a teacher, and he also taught just-for-fun summer classes at a community college, and that’s where I met him.

Around the time I was watching shows like DuckTales and Rescue Rangers, I thought it would be neat to grow up to be a cartoonist.  I’m sure my parents wanted to talk me out of it, since there’s no money in that field and it’s hard to get into unless you live in California or something.  But like all loving parents, mine supported me and found a class for me to take one summer, and it was Tex Henson’s class.  I was actually too young to take the class, but Tex Henson said I could anyway.  Of course I didn’t learn a lot of cartooning skills from his class, as all he did was sit on his stool and talk about the ‘good old days’ of animation (he was pretty old).  But there is something I got from his class.  He always said, “Animators are storytellers first, and cartoonists second.”  Well, I’ve been writing game reviews and other articles in newspapers and web sites for more than 20 years, so at least I’ve done good on the storytelling part, in a way.  At least my dreams of being a game reviewer have panned out a lot better than my dreams of being a cartoonist, more or less.

The Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers NES game actually came out that same summer that I was taking the cartooning class.  In fact, it was an early birthday present from my mom and she even had to order it from a catalog for me to get it in time.  I got it the last day I was taking that class, and I brought it in for Tex Henson to sign the box.  I don’t think he was too happy about that, as he didn’t seem too thrilled that his creations at Disney were now wearing clothes and solving crimes.  But I THINK I convinced him that the new show made today’s kids happy, and he reluctantly signed the NES box, which I still have to this day, by the way.

Anyway, I have more to say about Tex Henson later on in this blog, but like the DuckTales NES game, I played the heck out of the Rescue Rangers game as well.  It was fun to play two player co-op with friends.  I played it so much back then that when I revisited it on the collection, I was able to beat it super quick!  And like I said, Rescue Rangers is my favorite of the Disney Afternoon cartoons. I could probably write a whole blog about my favorite episodes.  If you’d like to read a blog like that, let me know in the comments section!

Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers 2

Like DuckTales 2, this came out WAY after the first one.  The collection says it came out in 1994.  By then I was enjoying FF3 on my SNES, so needless to say I never owned this one or played it.  And I call myself a Rescue Rangers fan.  I hear this one is REALLY rare now, and I wish I would’ve picked it up when I got DuckTales 2 fairly cheap.  Again, even back then it felt like Capcom was just trying to poop out a game to cash in on it before the NES faded out, but at least the game is still pretty good.  It’s more of the same from the first game.  The graphics are touched up a bit and the bosses are more varied and challenging, but that’s it.  The first game is still more memorable, though.


Of all the cartoons on The Disney Afternoon, I think TaleSpin had the weirdest premise.  It starred characters from The Jungle Book, but in different roles and not in their usual setting.  Baloo the bear was now a laid back ace pilot.  His friend Louie owned a restaurant and bar just outside of town, and Shere Khan was a ruthless businessman and CEO.  There were a bunch of other new characters, too.  And the setting was a South American style bay town set in a post WW1 1920’s to 1930’s era!  It was crazy, but it worked very well.  And as Rescue Rangers was aimed at a younger audience than DuckTales, TaleSpin was clearly aimed at an older audience, as it had a bit more violence and dealt with more series themes (well not TOO serious, but you know).  So the possibilities were endless for a TaleSpin video game.  So what did Capcom go with?  A 2-D sidescrolling shooter.

I remember the day I played TaleSpin on NES.  Capcom was having a mall tour where they were showing off their new Disney games, so it was kind of like a mini-E3 booth.  I wanted to go so bad, but the day it was at a nearby mall was going to be a very busy day for me.  But miraculously, somehow I was able to go.  I was so excited to play the new Capcom Disney game, but ultimately I was very disappointed with it.  You could flip your plane backwards to change the scrolling and shoot behind you, but it was so awkward.  It was also way more challenging than other Disney games they made, and Baloo flying a Sea Duck plane that was smaller than his head just looked stupid.  So I decided I wouldn’t buy it after all.

The day I got to play that game was also a very big day for me in other ways.  After we went to the mall, we went to a trade market in Texas called Canton Trade Days (you might have heard of it).  That day we went, I bought the Super Nintendo there two weeks before it was really supposed to come out, and I got it cheaper, too!  This was before there were actual official release dates on games and consoles.  And then that evening, I had a marching band competition to go to.  I don’t know how I was able to do all that in one day!  So yeah, I didn’t get TaleSpin on NES.  But then, I just got a SNES, so if I had to choose to play an awkward shooter with TaleSpin characters on NES, or a near arcade perfect version of U.N. Squadron on SNES, you can guess what I would’ve picked.

Darkwing Duck

This was originally going to be a spinoff of DuckTales based on an episode where Launchpad was a spy.  But they changed the main character and made Launchpad a sidekick and Darkwing Duck was born.  If you watch the show as a DuckTales spinoff, it’s not really that good.  But if you watch the show as a superhero parody, it’s genius.  It’s a bit more slapstick than DuckTales, too.  It also translated well into comic books, and I had a few as a kid.  I think there are even new Darkwing Duck comics now.  I’d like to get them.  The stories in the new comics have a bit more serious stuff than the cartoon did.  Like that one Quackerjack story arc…wow!  After Disney reboots DuckTales, I hear they’re going to release a new Darkwing cartoon, too, in 2018!

I was still keeping in touch with Tex Henson when the Darkwing Duck cartoon came out.  In fact, he even sent me a postcard he must’ve gotten at The Disney Store that had Darkwing Duck on it.  He wrote on it that people in the animation trade were calling it “Disney Does Daffy” because of Darkwing’s personality and his costume was very similar to the one Daffy wore in the Looney Tunes short, “The Scarlet Pumpernickel.”  I still have that postcard he sent me.  Sadly, without email or cell phones, it was harder and harder to keep in touch with Tex Henson as I went further into high school and off into college.  I learned that he was still alive when I graduated, but by the time I learned that, he had already passed away.  The lesson here is to spend as much time with the elderly people in your life, because you’ll miss them when they pass away.

You know, what’s strange is that I never owned the Darkwing Duck NES game, but I do have vivid memories playing it.  I don’t think I rented it because I already had the SNES (man, wouldn’t a SNES Darkwing game be cool?).  It plays a LOT like Mega Man, except I don’t like how you can’t run and shoot at the same time.  Also climbing and hanging from ledges was slightly awkward, and some of the later bosses were annoying!  But other than that, it was a pretty good game on the NES.

The “Fall” of The Disney Afternoon

So after Darkwing Duck, the next cartoon the Disney Afternoon had was Goof Troop.  And I hated that cartoon.  And as for what followed, it just kind of went downhill from there.  Aladdin was hit or miss and I guess Gargoyles was pretty good, but I didn’t like any of the other cartoons.  But around that time, WB’s animation department was kicking butt with Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series, so my attention was diverted to them instead.

Capcom did make a Goof Troop game on the Super Nintendo, and while the cartoon was horrible, the Goof Troop game was actually pretty good, as I found out much later.  It’s an overhead viewed co-op puzzler game where you play as Goofy and his son.  It actually plays a lot like a Zelda game.  In fact, I heard that the team who made Goof Troop went on to make some of the Capcom Zelda titles, like the Oracle series, Minish Cap, and some of the Four Swords entries.  Capcom also made a Bonkers game on the SNES, but I never played that one and that cartoon was also awful.  I think the only other game I wish was on The Disney Afternoon Collection was Little Nemo: The Dream Master, but I can understand why it’s not on there since it has NOTHING to do with Disney.  I just liked it.

You know what’s interesting is that when I first started watching cartoons on The Disney Afternoon, my peers considered themselves ‘too cool’ or ‘too old’ to watch cartoons and they would ridicule anyone who did.  So I just didn’t talk about it at school.  But I think a lot of those other kids probably secretly watched them at home, too.  A few years later when cartoons like Batman: The Animated Series was on TV, it was cool to watch cartoons again and I could wear my Animaniacs T-shirt with pride.  It’s amazing how a few years can change kids.  But I haven’t changed much.  I still play video games I’m probably too old for, like Kirby.  But I don’t care, I do what I like.

Anyway, that’s all I have to say about the cartoons and Capcom’s games based on The Disney Afternoon.  As you can tell, it had a significant impact on my childhood.  In the comments section, let me know what you think of my list, and tell me your favorite Disney Afternoon cartoons, if you have any.  Also, what’s your favorite Disney characters?  Mine are Chip N Dale, Scrooge McDuck, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and Wreck-It Ralph.  Later!  –Cary

One Response to “The Games of The Disney Afternoon Collection”

  1. Aww…early 90’s music was the bestest! I was in high school/early college so maybe it’s just nostalgia. Heh

    Think I at least rented all the games in the collection but the sequel ones. My favorite of the cartoons was either Ducktales or Darkwing. Old Donald Duck is probably my fav character.

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