Disney games don't get much love these days. With the Mouse House either dolling out their most lucrative IPs to external publishers or trying to rip off Activision's Skylanders, it's shouldn't come as a surprise that they mostly garner nothing but complaints from gamers.
That wasn't always the case, of course, and, back in the 80s and 90s, Disney was behind some of the most worthwhile movie-based games ever to see release. While what exactly constitutes a good game is debatable, there's no doubt that villains and antagonists— of which Disney has plenty— play an important role. With that said, it's time to look at 10 Disney villains that elevated their games, and ten that knocked already mediocre games down a few more pegs.
20 Saved: Wildebeest Stampede - The Lion King
Gamers have been singing the praises of the Lion King SNES game for generations at this point, but alongside some excellent— albeit occasionally infuriating— platforming, the game featured some really unique sections. Though their status as a boss is debatable, what isn't is how visually impressive these Mode 7 wildebeests seemed to be back in the day. Even now they almost appear to be jumping out of the screen as they rush at Simba.
19 Ruined: Syndrome - Disney Infinity 3.0
Disney Infinity felt like a weird, haphazard experiment which was more intended to sell toys and little plastic figurines of Disney characters than an actual video game. Worse, while the game was fairly basic to begin with, some of the boss fights were downright dull. The epitome of this would probably be Syndrome, the antagonist from the first Incredibles movie. The player hits him a few times, and he literally falls to pieces. Even by children's standards, this is too simple.
18 Saved: Dracula Duck - DuckTales
Though the NES classic title DuckTales is an excellent game and sought-after collector's item, it's not exactly remembered for its villains. The animated series on which it was based is sort of forgotten, but that hardly matters, as most of the boss fights in the game are super memorable. For those who didn't have the skill or were too terrified to face Dracula in Castlevania back in the day, DuckTale's final boss Dracula Duck was a nice substitute.
17 Ruined: The Shark - The Little Mermaid
Nobody remembers Capcom's weird Little Mermaid tie-in NES game. It's better than it has any right to be, and it does the Super Mario 2 thing where players can capture enemies and throw them at other enemies. While it's interesting enough, the bosses certainly aren't, and the first major encounter against what appears to be a great white shark is really bad. It can literally be beaten in less than a second, and, while it doesn't really count as a villain, it's still a major bummer of a boss fight.
16 Saved: Cogs - ToonTown Online
Though it was eventually abandoned by Disney, ToonTown Online was a unique attempt at introducing MMO gamers to the world of early Disney cartoons. It had a vibrant, playful aesthetic, and it was so beloved that fans revived the game after Disney did away with it. Perhaps most memorable were the Cogs, ToonTown's corporate villains who wanted to turn the world into John Carpenter's They Live and all looked like chlichéd prohibition-era mobsters.
15 Ruined: Nightmare Buzz - Toy Story
This may sound like a silly entry, but Nightmare Buzz from Disney's 16-bit adaptation of the first Toy Story movie gave me nightmares and totally ruined the game. Allegedly based on a deleted scene from the film, Buzz is creepy, annoyingly large, and says "you don't want to be in the way when my laser goes off" way, way too many times.
14 Saved: Keelhaul Pete - Goof Troop
Goof Troop is already a fondly remembered game, but it's boss fights went above and beyond for a game loosely tied to a direct-to-video animated film. The final boss encounter, Keelhaul Peete, steals the show and both looks and plays like something out of A Link To The Past. Both challenging and engaging, this villain wrapped up what was perhaps one of the best movie licensed games of all time.
13 Ruined: Hedge Maze Emerald Serenade - Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days is the worst title anyone ever could have come up with and most likely hurt the sales of this Nintendo DS exclusive title. Though it is remembered fondly enough, those who've played it still likely get headaches when they think of the Emerald Serenade hedge maze encounter. More of a mini-boss than an outright villain, this is perhaps the most tedious boss encounter in the entire franchise— and that's really saying something.
12 Saved: Oswald The Lucky Rabbit - Epic Mickey
Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was one of Walt Disney's first creations, and he was used to help cement the animation style which would come to define the Golden Age of American Animation. However, in the Epic Mickey Wii game, he's a bitter, grudge-bearing villain. Though it wasn't a very celebrated title, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit stood out as an interesting, twisted take on Disney history.
11 Ruined: The Phantom - Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix
The Phantom is an additional secret boss introduced in the revised version of the first Kingdom Hearts game. While it's cool in concept, the fact that the entire fight takes place while airborne makes things confusing and unnecessarily difficult. What's more, the encounter centers around a massive clock which knocks out your party members should it be allowed to keep moving. It's a headache-inducing test of patience which brought down an otherwise fantastic experience.
10 Saved: Emperor Zurg - Toy Story 3
Alright, hear us out here. Though it defies most commonly held video game conventions, Toy Story 3 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii is actually lots of fun. It's an action-adventure game which seemingly admits how silly it is while delivering some well-thought-out, genuinely engaging sequences. The Emperor Zurg fight, in particular, stands out not only for his general villainy and comparisons to Darth Vader, but also because it's a fairly decent third-person shooter boss fight in a game about talking toys.
9 Ruined: Cave Of Wonders Golden Monkey - Aladdin
Much like the aforementioned Lion King game, Aladdin was a surprisingly good side-scrolling platformer from the 16-bit era of gaming— so much so that it's been compared to games like Super Mario World and Earthworm Jim. It wasn't perfect, however, and most of the boss fights are just plain aggravating. The boss in the Cave of Wonders level, for instance, is essentially the world's easiest game of whack-a-mole, and it sort of ruins the game's vibe.
8 Saved: Xemnas - Kingdom Hearts II
We make no pretense of understanding the Kingdom Hearts lore at this point, but what we do know is that Xemnas, weird, unfollowable histories aside, is cool. This genuinely threatening antagonist stands out in a game full over otherwise-goofy Disney villains, and the long, drawn-out battle against him during the climactic final sequences of Kingdom Hearts II was perhaps the most memorable event in any KH game.
7 Ruined: The Final Boss - Mickey Mousecapade
The NES title Mickey Mouscapade has, in recent years, garnered a well-deserved reputation. The game is nonsensical, difficult to control, and ugly— even by 8-bit standards. Though few have ever endured enough of this game to reach the final boss, those who have were met with an utterly anti-climactic fight which can be beaten by quite literally standing still. Given that her attacks are almost certainly unavoidable given the stupid two-character setup, this is probably for the best.
6 Saved: Hydra - Hercules
Disney's PS1 adaptation of the animated Hercules movie is definitely an overlooked gem on Sony's first home console. A witty, colorful, and surprisingly competent side-scrolling romp through many of the key scenes from the film, Hercules actually comes packed with some really dazzling boss encounters. The fight against the mythological hydra is perhaps most remarkable for its excellent, albeit sparing, use of 3D models.
5 Ruined: Cy-bug Queen - Wreck-It Ralph
This may come as a shock, but the Wreck-It Ralph tie-in Wii game is really bad. Not only does it not have anything to do with the plot of the movie, but it's a horribly stiff, burdensome experience which sees Ralph and Fix-It Felix going around squishing computer bugs— get it, because they're in a video game? The ending boss, the Cy-bug Queen, might be intended as an homage to the original Donkey Kong arcade games, but it's so terribly stilted and awkward that it totally falls flat.
4 Saved: Maleficent's Dragon - Kingdom Hearts
We don't intend to suggest that the original Kingdom Hearts title was in need of saving. Instead, the boss encounter with Maleficent's dragon elevated an already-great title. Maleficent is the most outwardly-malicious, threatening Disney villain in the KH saga, and her jet-black dragon was a total blast both conceptually and in terms of gameplay.
3 Ruined: FatCat Robot - Chip And Dale Rescue Rangers 2
Does anyone still have a copy of Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers 2 lying around? You may want to check; it's getting to be pretty rare. While it wasn't quite as memorable as the first game, it did come with some pretty cool bosses. The final fight, however, was a disappointment. Braindead easy and taking place on a lazy all-black background, Fatcat Robot ends the game on a sour note.
2 Saved: Dark Inferno - Kingdom Hearts III
A secret boss from the newest entry into the Kingdom Hearts Saga, Dark Inferno from Kingdom Hearts III stands among the best boss encounters in the series. Though KH3 wasn't exactly praised for its combat mechanics, the visual flair and overall evocative nature of this boss make it great. It's a pity that some players will have opted out of this one entirely.
1 Ruined: The Toymaker - Cory In The House
Look, nobody is going to try to convince you that the Cory in the House DS game was ever good. In fact, we're probably the only people who even remember who the villain was supposed to be in that game to begin with. His villainous machinations amount to stealing Cory's collection of bobblehead figures, and... well, that's pretty much it. The idea that the secret service couldn't even be bothered to stop this guy and just left it up to Cory is hilarious, and, in reality, we just wanted to make fun of this meme of a game.