Disney is a global company, and that means catering to thousands of unique cultures, interests and genres. It also means regional content that occasionally skips the Western world like smash hit mobile game, Twisted Wonderland. You’d be forgiven if you’ve never heard of it before: it released in Japan in March 2020 and despite the pleas of English-speaking fans, it hasn’t made its way outside the region.
This app is mostly notable because it takes the Disney formula and spins it into its own anime-style world filled with villainous ikemen (cute anime boys) based on the many worlds of Disney. Here, you’ll find characters based on Alice in Wonderland, Hercules, Sleeping Beauty, The Lion King and even 101 Dalmations.
In essence, it’s an anime adaptation of The Descendants, but it borrows a lot from Kingdom Hearts, too. Gameplay resembles Kingdom Hearts χ, and it rocks a classic anime style courtesy of Yana Toboso, creator of Black Butler.
Its popularity in Japan has skyrocketed over the last year, and led to a boom in merchandise for the app. You can already purchase clothing, accessories and plushes of the characters, as well as $1,000+ statues. There’s Nendoroids of popular characters like Leona Kingscholar and Banpresto Q Posket figures. There’s knives, spoons and necklaces. There’s even unique Twisted Wonderland Tamagotchis.
Basically, ‘cute anime boys + Disney’ has turned into a cultural phenomenon. In 2020, it was the third most tweeted about game online, an incredibly impressive feat for a region-locked release.
When you look at the character designs, you can certainly see why.
Twisted Wonderland: Plot
Twisted Wonderland is a game about a magic training school called Night Raven College, which is home to all the cute anime boys mentioned earlier. As a newcomer to the school (who arrived under mysterious circumstances), it’s your job to find out why you’re there, why you seem to have no magic and all about your strange past.
Of course, along the way you’ll be helped and hindered by your villainous Disney-inspired classmates, who each have their own hidden agendas. There’s secrets to find, hearts to unlock and many quests to uncover.
Like the Kingdom Hearts mobile games, Twisted Wonderland follows a chapter-based structure where players take on rhythm-based battles to overcome foes and progress the game’s mysterious story.
Twisted Wonderland: Characters
Much like Descendants, every character in Twisted Wonderland is inspired by the worlds of Disney.
Fan favourite characters like Riddle Rosehearts, Leona Kingscholar and Malleus Draconia are all based on Disney villains; The Red Queen (Alice in Wonderland), Scar (The Lion King) and Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty).
Other classmates are based on Hades, The Cheshire Cat, The Evil Queen, Ursula, Jafar and their minions.
Each has their own personal story quests, and players are tasked with unlocking their secrets and desires through dialogue between each school lesson.
Twisted Wonderland: Release Date
Twisted Wonderland launched on iOS and Android in Japan on March 18, 2020. So far, it has yet to be localised and is only available in Japan — but if you can read and understand Japanese, a sideloaded version of the app is available via QooApp.
The original Kingdom Hearts mobile games also had initial Japan-only releases, but they eventually made their way to the West — so we can expect Twisted Wonderland to be localised in English eventually.
Given the year that’s been, it’s possible there was a Western release planned and delayed, but for now we have no idea what Disney’s plans are for the game. All fans can do is exercise patience. Alternatively, there is currently a Change survey looking to speed up the process by showing Disney how much support there is for the game. It’s at 13,000 signatures and counting as of writing.
Twisted Wonderland has turned into a major success for Disney, so it’s only a matter of time before we hear about a local release. Stay tuned for more!