Nintendo and Disney are peers in their respective industries. Primary industries, that is, as one of the things that makes them so alike is dabbling in new ventures. Although, while Nintendo didn’t find much success until it stumbled onto video games, Disney has dominated the world with theme parks and television programmes.
Disney and Nintendo share a lot in common, and even worked together for a brief moment in history on playing cards. Just as Nintendo revolutionised video games, Disney revolutionised cartoons and family entertainment. I can confidently say that everyone reading MMGN would have consumed a Disney product in their lifetime, and has probably played at least one Nintendo game as well.
Both great successes have come from a stalwart of timeless characters that have enthralled children, families and adults alike. They rarely target an 18+ audience, but there’s something to be said about the charm of Mario and Aladdin that excites no matter your age.
Both great successes have come from a stalwart of timeless characters that have enthralled children, families and adults alike.
Fans of both will rightly be the first to point out their mistakes, but those are often highlighted only in contrast to their great success stories and the stigma of inevitable monetisation.
But really, it all comes down to this: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Oswald, Aladdin, Snow White, The Lion King, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and Toy Story, just to name a few. Add those to Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Pikmin, Pokemon, Donkey Kong, Star Fox and Kirby.
Between them, those are the most recognisable characters and franchises in entertainment in terms of both quantity and quality possessed by a single entity; family entertainment, that appeals to the masses.
I write this directly after slaving away on a preview for Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two (coming soon), prompting my recollection that the original 2010 game was somewhat a coming together of these two great powerhouses with a Wii exclusive. It’s almost sad, from that perspective, to see it go multiplatform with the sequel, as something about Mickey on a Nintendo platform just feels right.
As media companies, though, the two couldn’t be more different. Nintendo owns several video game development studios. Disney is a media conglomerate. Its home entertainment and motion pictures divisions, formerly known as divisions of Buena Vista, own brands such as Pixar and Touchstone Pictures, the latter of which signed a 30 picture deal with DreamWorks in 2011. Those will likely be live action movies typically not associated with the Disney animations. Pirates of the Caribbean is obvious -- considering its source material -- but Touchstone also spawned Dead Poets Society and Pearl Harbor.
That’s where Disney really starts to branch out as the definitive medium of its era. Disney was on the forefront of the motion picture industry with the advent of sound in mainstream productions in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and now has gone on to do great things, not the least of which is produce more movies than you likely expect. There’s also America’s ABC Network, WorldWide Disney Channels, ESPN, DIS and Mobile, toys and Marvel -- they are all a part of Disney on a list that is considerably longer. Even though Nintendo is the older company, it operates in a developing area of the entertainment industry. Maybe the Disney of the next century will begin life as a video games company.
Despite all this, I consider the core of Disney and Nintendo to be equals, above other entertainment networks. Largely because they, unlike anything else, were defining influences on my childhood, but also because I place a great deal of trust in their properties. Neither are perfect, but I know I’m going to get quality when I play the next Zelda game or watch the latest Pixar movie. Such quality doesn’t resonate as strongly with anyone as it does with Disney and Nintendo.
By Ben Salter