Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Nintendo board games - part 3 - More Disney

Part 2 of the series about Nintendo's board games featured four Disney themed games from the mid 1960s. Today we will continue the Nintendo board game retrospective with five more Disney board games from that same period (ca 1964-1966).

We will take a look at:
  • Disneyland Adventureland Game
  • Bambi Game
  • Peter Pan Game
  • Lady and the Tramp Game
  • Sword in the Stone Game

Disneyland Adventureland Game

We already saw some Duck based games before, and here is another one. Well, at least Donald Duck is presented on the box front; his popularity used to attract interest.

Nintendo Disneyland Adventureland Game

The front shows Donald and one of his nephews in dire straits; their canoe has capsized and a hippo, alligator and a handful of spear-toting natives move in, competing for the fowl feast. [Forgetting for a moment that hippos are herbivores. And come to think of it, the natives may actually only be interested in getting Donald's autograph.]

The game is called Disneyland Adventureland Game (ディズニーランド冒険の国ゲーム).

It is based on the Adventureland section in Disney's theme park.

In the US, Parker Brothers also released a board game called Disneyland Adventureland Game, but this is a different game.

In the 1960s, Disneyland in California was still the only Disney theme park in existence. Although it had already generated quite some publicity worldwide since its opening in 1955, not many Japanese would have experienced it first hand, at the time this board game was released. It would be almost twenty more years, in 1983 to be precise, before Tokyo Disneyland opened it's doors, bringing the Magic Kingdom within day trip range for Japanese Disney fans.

The game topic is similar to Mickey Mouse Adventure Game which we saw in the previous post. The play pieces used by both games are even identical.

But unlike Mickey's game, that has him plastered all over the game board, here Donald is nowhere to be found on the actual game. Rather disappointing, given the promise made by the box art.

The game includes an interesting mechanism to determine the number of fields the players advance on the board. We will see this in more detail below when we look at The Sword in the Stone Game, which uses the same mechanism.

Bambi Game

The remaining four games in this post are all based on different Disney feature animation films.

Nintendo Bambi Game

The first of these is Bambi Game (バンビゲーム), inspired by the classic Disney film Bambi from 1942. As this was in the middle of World War II, the film was not released at the time in Japan. It wasn't until 1951 when it saw a theatrical premiere in Japan, about a year before the end of the American post-war occupation.

Although the game's illustrations mostly depict scenes from the movie, we also see some more surprising figures that feel a little out of place here, to say the least.

For instance, I don't recall Donald Duck playing any part in Bambi's story.

I guess Nintendo must have thought "the more the merrier", when they decided to include Disney icons Mickey and Donald.

Peter Pan Game

The next game is called Peter Pan Game (ペーターパンゲーム). It is, rather obviously, based the Disney feature animation film Peter Pan.

Nintendo Peter Pan Game

This movie dates from 1953, and was released in Japan two years later, in 1955.

Another ten years later, Nintendo created this game around the familiar story of the boy who did not want to grow up.

The game follows the film closely, with the key cast members all portrayed on the front.

In the center of the board, Peter and Wendy are seen together in a romantic get-together. Four other key scenes from the film are presented around them, representing areas the players need to visit in order to collect chips.

One of the scenes shown, is my favorite of the entire movie. Probably many's favorite: Captain Hook's encounter with his nemesis Tick-Tock the Croc.

A nice picture of the Lost Boys, shown only in black silhouettes, is also included in the inside of the box.

All in all a nicely designed board game.

Lady and the Tramp Game

Next is a game based on the Disney feature animated film that followed Peter Pan: Lady and the Tramp.

Nintendo Lady and the Tramp Game

This film was released in the US in 1955 and the next year in Japan. By this time, Japanese movie releases followed the original US premieres generally by around a year.

The game is called 「わんわん物語ゲーム」, which follows the Japanese title of the movie. The literal translation of this is "Doggie Story Game".

As indicated on the side of the box (slightly covert with a "#" sign), the game retailed for ¥350.

The game has a nice blue color schema. Like the Peter Pan Game, this game is also true to the movie it is based on. Here there are no Ducks or Mouses thrown in for good measure.

The game sees Lady travel the board towards her goal: the kennel of her love interest The Tramp.

It is not clear what the patent mentioned on the board relates to.

It may be the unusual mechanism that is used to determine how fast the players advance on the board. As mentioned, almost none of the Nintendo board games from this period use regular dice.

A spiral-shaped plastic pole is set up in the middle of the box. The part with the pointy arrows is pulled up this pole. When it is released, it spins down, and on hitting the bottom indicates the number of fields the players with the respective colors may advance.

Sword in the Stone Game

The final board game in this part of the Nintendo board game overview is based on what was, at the time, the most recent of all Disney feature animation films: Sword in the Stone. It was released in the US in 1963 and in Japan in the Summer of 1964, a few months before the Tokyo Olympics.

Nintendo Sword in the Stone Game

The Sword in the Stone Game is called 「王さまの剣ゲーム」, which translates to "Sword of the King Game".

Like with Lady and the Tramp, the title of this movie was slightly changed for the Japanese release; in both cases using a more literal reference to the story.

The game has a beautiful board, with large pictures of scenes from the film.

The game is similar to a roulette game, with players betting by placing chips on the numbered areas on the board.

Each player as a little device used to keep track of their score.

Besides a bag with play chips, two tumbling beans are included. These are the same beans as the ones used in Nintendo's coaster games, like the Rabbit Coaster which had just been released around this time.

When the bets are placed on the board, the wheel is spun. One of the beans is then let go from the top of the small white track. After a bit of tumbling, it drops on the wheel in one of the numbered areas, indicating the wining section of board. Players who bet on that number see their stakes paid out.

The tumbling track as it is stored (left) and used (right)

With the Sword in the Stone Game, we have come to the end of this part, but there is more to come. Some more Disney themed games and a lot of other Nintendo board games as well. So, stay tuned.

For more Nintendo board games, check out the previous posts: part 1, part 2 and part 4.


  1. Hi - not really related to Nintendo, but as it happens hippos are actually a leading cause of human fatalities in Africa - apparently they are just plain *mean*...!

    1. Indeed. They're feral, highly territorial and faster than they look. Despite being herbivores, they can chomp an alligator apart...

  2. "I guess Nintendo must have thought "the more the merrier", when they decided to include Disney icons Mickey and Donald."

    We even get Jiminy Cricket and Bongo too!

    1. Bongo! That's his name. Thanks. I have been scratching my head about that for many hours. From all random Disney characters thrown in the Bambi Game mix, he actually belong in the forest.

    2. Well in his story he starts out a captive circus bear anyway before managing to break himself free into the forest. Used to watch "Fun and Fancy Free" a lot so this was too easy for me to know.

  3. I love that they weren't satisfied with just a roulette spinner so they had to add in their tumbling beans.
    Also, hippos are *huge* and have massively strong jaws, so yeah, herbivore or no stay the heck away from them.

    1. I guess I have watched the ballet scene in Disney's Fantasia too many times; I think hippo's are cute..

    2. Well, yeah, granted, but you shouldn't go near a live bear or chimp either...