I don’t know what Disney games are like now but Disney games were awesome back in the day.
Like, actually awesome.
The animation in those games was usually spot-on and the games themselves were colourful, often detailed, well put together and generally loads of fun.
Pinocchio on the SNES was no exception.
Based on the classic Disney movie, of course, the game was a typical side-scroller where you played as Pinocchio and pranced around various levels inspired by the main scenes in the movie.
And when I say “pranced around,” I mean pranced around.
The game is framed by a fairy-tale book which tells you the story little by little as you’re playing the game. It’s standard storytelling but it works.
You start off in the streets where you’re meant to be just walking to school but along the way you find that birds are attacking you, roofs are breaking down below your feet and you’re being spun around by random street signs which propel you miles into the air:
It’s an easy level with no real enemies to fight, just the odd incoming thing to avoid, and in the end you’re awarded a badge by the Blue Fairy:
There are three badges to pick up throughout the game, by the way.
In terms of pick-ups you can find the likes of hats and books hanging in the weirdest of places and they either boost your health or give you extra lives. Pinocchio is a simple game with not too much to it but the levels somehow get tricky enough that it ends up being way more challenging than you would expect relatively quickly.
Actually, most of the levels in this game are basically mini-games with three rounds to them, each round stepping things up a notch.
Anyway, that creepy fox shows up, the inappropriately named “Honest John”:
And he and his pal take you away to the next level.
Meanwhile, the focus switches to Jiminy Cricket and, for some reason, you get to play as that character in what is quite possibly the most useless level in any Disney game. I mean, don’t get me wrong, playing as Jiminy is fine, he’s one cool, kinda badass cricket:
But all you’re doing is killing moths and it’s a tad difficult to earn those silly badges when you’re a cricket!
It’s an easy level also and soon enough we get another mini-game that’s a little more of a pain to get through. You’re in Stromboli’s puppet show, being a puppet, and your challenge is to dance like the other puppets around you. For this, an SNES controller pops up literally on screen and shows you which button controls which movement so you can replicate what your puppet buddies are doing just after they do it.
It’s a typical memory game with a QTE feel to it which starts off easy enough.
Step right, step left, no problemo.
Yeah that’s not working.
Good old Honest John eventually comes back to tell you this:
Is that anything like Pleasure Town?
I sure hope not…
No, of course Pleasure Island is that unpleasant fun fair where children drink beer, go out of control and then get turned into donkeys. Now, I don’t know about you but that whole sequence in the movie gave me nightmares as a kid. What kind of child would actually want to BE in that fun fair, let alone play that particular level?
Even in game form, that whole part still gives me chills.
In a very Aladdin-like move, Pinocchio jumps from balloon to balloon:
Sorry, wrong picture:
And he makes his way to the scariest roller-coaster Disneyla… I mean, Pleasure Island, has to offer.
You get to go upside down:
Duck to avoid decapitation:
And test out your Matrix moves to avoid fireworks:
Sadly, you’re still almost turned into a donkey and you’re left to run around the island, again getting attacked by birds:
Kicking these shadowy dudes away:
And committing murder, something which Pinocchio looks creepily very happy about:
The Blue Fairy appears and apparently isn’t too fussed about Pinocchio’s transgressions, rewarding him with a badge despite what just happened:
Now, somehow in between giving Pinocchio his badge and the wooden boy coming home, we learn that the Blue Fairy left him a letter even though we’ve seen time and time again that she can just pop up anywhere, any time:
Time to fight Monstro, right?
First, there’s an underwater level but luckily, seeing as you’re a puppet and all, there’s none of that Sonic The Hedgehog crap where you have to somehow find the right bubble before the scary, stressful music starts playing and the countdown for your death begins. No, the underwater level mostly consists of being pooed by plants:
Walking upside down (underwater gravity’s weird):
And meeting up with that singing lobster from The Little Mermaid:
Pinocchio’s one mean, sadistic kid…
There’s a mostly irritating mini level where you’re swimming desperately from fish to fish, grabbing onto them for dear life:
And then you finally meet up with Geppetto inside the whale’s stomach where you get to side-scroll a little through a level which mostly consists of moving boxes and barrels, until you all finally decide to make Monstro sneeze and escape.
Now you’re on the run from a scary monster and all you really get to do is avoid obstacles and try not to waste any time. It’s relentless and not quite as epic as that magic carpet escape level from the Genesis Aladdin game, but it’s still a fitting end to this particular Disney effort.
All that done, you get the obligatory storybook ending:
And Pinocchio applauds the game’s developers during the credits sequence.
Overall, I would recommend Pinocchio on the SNES, it’s a good-looking game which follows the movie pretty well and boasts great animation, smooth controls and familiar Disney songs as background music. All that said, I can’t help but feel that the game could have done with more consistency and more involving challenges.
Sure, most of these mini games are difficult but they just feel like side missions, there to act as filler until the side-scrolling parts come back when in fact it’s the opposite. Each of these mini levels have their own rules altogether so you never feel like you can learn from previous levels and use your experience to help you progress within the game.
It’s just a little too simplistic in its approach.
Besides, the closest thing you have to an enemy you can actually kill, besides that one unfortunate dude, is those darned moths. Couldn’t there have been a level where you finally get to fight Honest John? One where you face Stromboli? Maybe one where you directly fight the whale? Without taking too many liberties with the adapted story, of course.
Just sayin’, it could have been much better than it was had they pushed for more unity in the game’s structure.
It’s still fun and worth playing, though.
Hey, at least it’s better than that Game Boy version which certainly didn’t try too hard to distinguish itself from the SNES version:
Oh good, a cheap conversion.
I love those.
*hugs and kisses SNES*