At this point, I’ve written about a number of Disney video games on a few different gaming consoles. But Mickey got his start in gaming years before any of the games I’ve mentioned so far. The relationship between Mickey Mouse and Nintendo actually goes back to 1981 (a few years before the original Nintendo Entertainment System was even released). Nintendo had a line of handheld LCD games called the Game & Watch series. Disney released three Game & Watch units, and we’re going to take a look at all of them in this edition of the Classic Console. So, let’s get ready to jump back to 1981!
Disney’s first entry into the Game & Watch series was Mickey Mouse, released on October 9, 1981. It was a pretty simple game: MIckey Mouse is trying to catch eggs that his hens are laying. Use the buttons to position Mickey’s basket under the correct chute and you’ll catch an egg. Don’t miss too many eggs, though, or your game is over. Catch as many eggs as you can to rack up your high score. As was common with the Game & Watch series, this unit has a Game A and Game B button. Game A was usually easier and slower, while Game B moved a little faster. That’s about the gist of it.
The next Disney Game & Watch featured Mickey and Donald, cleverly titled Mickey and Donald. It was released just over a year later, on November 12, 1982. This was a Multi Screen unit, with a hinged design that has one upper and one lower screen. It looked very much like today’s Nintendo DS line of handheld consoles. This game was somewhat more complicated than the earlier Mickey Mouse game. Mickey and Donald are working for a fire department and are trying to extinguish a fire that has broken out in an apartment building. You control both characters: Mickey is pumping the water while Donald is aiming the hose. You have to make sure Donald is pointing the water in the right places, and Mickey has to make sure the hose doesn’t burst from pumping too much water. If it does, he’ll have to climb the ladder to patch it. Once again, you’ll have the A and B versions of the game with varying difficulties.
The last of the original Mickey video games actually brings us full circle. The Panorama series of Game & Watch handhelds was a little different from the rest in that you could play in color. The older versions were a standard LCD screen with a little bit of color in the background. The characters were black and white. The Panorama line changed that, and they have become popular with collectors because of that. This game was very similar to the original Mickey Mouse Game & Watch, only plussed for the Panorama. This handheld was released in February 1984, right about the time Disney games were entering other markets (mainly early computers).
Sadly, it’s really hard to find a way for you to experience these games today. My advice would be to keep scouring eBay, but remember that some consider these collector’s items. That means prices can go a little high. The original, for example, can be found on a few eBay stores right now, and prices are ranging from $80 to just above $500. And, of course, Google is always your friend.
I hope you enjoyed this look back at retro Disney video games. I know it’s a little farther back in time than I usually go, but it’s interesting to see where Mickey started appearing on video game consoles. Have any of you played these games? Have any memories to share? Let me know by leaving a comment below!