Disney Illusion Island originated as a canceled game from 2016


Disney Illusion Island was announced for Nintendo Switch just the other day, and now we’ve learned of its surprising origins. It turns out that this multiplayer co-op platformer featuring classic Disney characters is based on a concept dating all the way back to 2016. That original concept came from indie development studio Dlala who was understandably excited to be working on a high profile title for Disney.

According to a GamesIndustry.biz interview, the original game featured a revitalization of an immensely popular Disney IP, a hand drawn animation style, four player co-op, Metroivania style gameplay, and episodic progression. If a lot of that sounds familiar, it’s because much of it seems to have been retained for Disney Illusion Island.

The original game was cancelled when Disney decided to remove itself from video game publishing completely later that year. Of course, this was a huge blow for Dlala. Fortunately, they managed to recover financially and are now back in business with Disney once again. Speaking to IGN, Disney VP Luigi Priore said the following about the situation:

“Disney’s in a different place now,” Priore says. “Is it exactly the same game? It’s not. Is it Dlala? Yes. Are they bringing their creativity to it? Yes. Is it the same characters? Yes. It didn’t work then, but the environment changed with Sean Shoptaw [Senior VP, Walt Disney Games] taking over, with us bringing in people like John Drake on the business development side…we already knew [Dlala CEO] AJ [Grand-Scrutton] and the team at Dlala and we knew they could do great work, so we wanted to start a project and work with them to create this new game.”

While Disney Illusion Island may not be exactly the same game as the one that came before, it sounds like it’ll share many of those original elements. This is a rare example of a happy ending after a video game gets cancelled, and we’re excited to experience it for ourselves when the final product is released on Switch sometime in 2023.



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