Disney Princesses and Body Horror…

The concept of what constitutes nonviolence, especially in a video game, is a funny thing. After all, Nintendo games are generally considered “family-friendly” and non-violent. But just because Mario isn’t slicing guys in half with an ax or Donkey Kong isn’t riddling enemies with bullet holes doesn’t mean there isn’t some violence implied in their games. I’m not saying oh these games are secretly violent and will teach your kids to kill! Or any nonsense along those lines. But Mario does, among other things, stomp enemies into oblivion, burn them with fireballs, and so on. Kirby? He just straight eats and absorbs people.

Because generally, we have, as society deemed this as violence that’s an acceptable level for kids, that’s fine (really, it is). Apparently, however at least one time, for one game, for a particular audience, Disney felt the traditional way you would dispatch enemies was too violent I guess, but their solution is something that is actually far more horrifying when you really think about the ramifications.

Games actually starring the various Disney Princesses tend to be of a certain type. They can be dress-up, or puzzle, or simply minigames, usually not more than that. This is very much thanks to the outdated idea that 1. Girls don’t play games and 2. If they did those are the only kinds of games they want.

I went into Disney Princess Magical Jewels for the Nintendo DS not sure what to expect really, but I had read a description and it said the game was a puzzle platformer where you play as various Disney Princesses (Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora and minigames with Ariel and Jasmine) to beat an evil witch and recover some jewels. Even if it was a bad game, at least it sounded more fun and ambitious than what you usually had to play with a game starring a classic Disney Princess.

Well, calling it a “platformer”, or even a “puzzler” is honestly a tad misleading. This game is clearly designed for very young children. You lead a fairy sprite around a stage, making jewel shards drop to the floor, you guide the princess to them and pick them up. Some are hidden in objects, but those objects sparkle and you merely tap the item with your stylus to uncover them. There are some other wrinkles but that’s basically it. You cannot fall, be damaged, or fail in any manner in any stage as far as I can tell (I’ve completed a little over half the game as of this writing). The game mixes it up a little as there is an occasional level where, as the fairy sprite, you fly and collect jewels while dodging attacks from the evil witch who wants the gems. But even in these stages, the most the witch can do is freeze you for a couple of seconds and slow down your progress. You will eventually win. Is this the first walking simulator? It’s a good six years before Gone Home!

In all seriousness though, this is a game where it might not sound remotely appealing, but the simplicity and fact that I could just mindlessly drag my fairy sprite and princess wherever without any actual danger made it kind of perfect to play while listening to a podcast? It was kind of a zen feeling to be playing Disney Princess Magical Jewels while I caught up on my backlog of Giant Bomb or Without a Mouse or Vault Disney (if you’re a fellow Disney fan highly recommend those last two).

It took a little while to discover the true horror hidden within this game. The first couple levels for every princess have no real obstacles, you just collect your jewels required and move on to the next stage (you can collect 60 but the stage requirements are far lower and aside from wallpaper or an alternate outfit there isn’t really a bonus for getting everything).

A few levels in you do get enemies. But these are literally just dudes blocking your path, they can’t hurt you. So, how do you dispatch these enemies? Put them to sleep? Just make them happy and carefree and they’ll let you pass? Oh, sweet summer child…

You see, in an effort to come up with a nonviolent solution, Disney may have gone too far here. Your fairy sprite friend, with the tap of a button, turns these enemies into a literal horror show.

You see that plant thing on the screen? That used to be a regular goblin just like the guy on the far right. That’s right, your fairy sprite friend just turned him into some horrifying plant-goblin. For life. From what I can tell he can’t even move. What did these guys ever do to deserve such a cruel fate? He was blocking your path, sure, but does that warrant mutating him into such an unnatural horror? Why not simply teleport him away? Why such utter cruelty??? And the princess’ clearly have no problem with this as they just go about their way, collecting more jewel shards.

I can see the reasoning, sure. But someone making the calls clearly didn’t think this horrifying prospect all the way through. It would have been far better to mercilessly chop off their limbs and pummel them until they are way past dead than to leave them to this nightmare life forever.

So just something to keep in mind, aiming for nonviolent solutions as ways to deal with enemies in a game is a good and noble cause, one that should be championed. Just maybe think about what your solution to that is and what it really implies before just putting it out there for somebody like me to overthink it. That’s all for now see ya real soon!



All about Disney games, past present and future. Mix of reviews, opinion pieces and anything else that fits here.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Main Street Electrical Arcade

All about Disney games, past present and future. Mix of reviews, opinion pieces and anything else that fits here.