GAME REVIEW | Rewind to Retro Victory in 'Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King'
Licensed games have always been a little hit-or-miss over the years, but there was a golden period in the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis era where there were some true hits. Disney in particular had a few back in the day based on their hit films. Virgin Games were tasked with creating video games based on both Aladdin and The Lion King which were wildly popular at the time due to the hype built up by the films. Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is a collection of these two games which gives players the chance to revisit their childhood and experience these games once again.
Let us go back for a moment to the days when game rentals from video stores were the most cost-effective way for a kid to play a game. You have a few days to complete the game and then it needs to go back to the store whether it has been beaten or not. The Lion King for the SNES was one of those games for me and I was never able to conquer it as a child. I remember one attempt where I made it to an adult Simba stage, but that is as far as I ever made it. I remember staring at The Lion King sitting on the shelf at the store afterwards, the white whale that I was never able to conquer in the time that was allotted.
This collection, Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King, contains a feature that enabled me to exact my revenge upon this difficult game. It allows the player to rewind the game at any time by simply holding the L button. Let me be clear, The Lion King is a ludicrously difficult game and upon playing it for this review, I liberally used the rewind feature. Jumps are surprisingly imprecise, with it being difficult to know what part of Simba needs to touch on a terrain element in order for him to latch on or swing from it. Game elements that will instantly kill the player are introduced with little to no chance to react aside from simply learning from your death. There is even a level with a door that will dump you back at the start of the stage, which seems strangely similar to a trolly Super Mario Maker level. All of this can be circumvented via the rewind feature and with its use, I conquered my white whale and saw the end of this game! It was fine.
All that being said, I want to talk about what a technical beauty The Lion King video game was for its time. The animations built for the characters in the game are fluid and beautifully done. The music evokes all of the classic songs from the movie so well that it has “I Just Can’t Wait To Be King” stuck in my head this very moment. The Lion King game is colorful and full of meaningful locations from the film that truly does make it feel like you are playing the movie, which was a huge accomplishment for an SNES/Genesis game. These features should not be overlooked in this game, but the difficulty did always leave a sore spot for me, but thanks to the ability to rewind, the game is much more beatable in this collection.
Going back again to the early-to-mid 1990s, I did not have a Sega Genesis. Instead I had a Super Nintendo and while Virgin Games developed both the SNES and Sega Genesis versions of The Lion King, it was actually Capcom that made the SNES version of Aladdin. This was a completely different game, which I liked a lot, from the Genesis version developed by Virgin. Never having played Aladdin for the Genesis, but hearing really good things about it from Genesis fans, I was excited to finally give this version of the game a try. I am glad, but not surprised, to report that the Genesis version of Aladdin featured in Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is a very fun game.
The smooth and detailed animation can also be found in Aladdin along with the catchy chip-tunes that evoke the hit music from the film perfectly. Aladdin succeeds in creating a much more balanced gameplay experience than The Lion King. Traversing the levels as Aladdin feels a lot more varied, with multiple ways of moving around like hanging, climbing riding flying ropes and of course the flying carpet. Apples provide a ranged attack on top of the melee-based sword. Most importantly, the difficulty of the game is balanced well and feels achievable throughout.
The Gameboy versions of both of these games are also included in this collection and one thing about them really impressed me. Clearly, these games were made after the main console games and the direction received by the Gameboy team was to just make them again, but on the Gameboy. I was shocked at just how successful they were are replicating the full console games on the handheld platform. Don’t get me wrong, the Gameboy versions are not as good and very laggy, but the animation work is surprisingly detailed in each. Give them a quick shot and be impressed at the level of detail they managed to squeeze out the Gameboy.
- Graphical quality and animations are top notch in both games
- Rewind ability curbs the difficulty of The Lion King
- Music perfectly evokes the movies in chip tune form
- The Lion King is a spitefully difficult game
- Animations get in the way of design sometimes in both games
- The Gameboy games don’t hold up as well as their counterparts
Nostalgia can be a one heck of a thing when it comes to playing older games in collections like Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King. While it could be easy for revisiting older games like these to go incredibly wrong, the rewind feature adds just enough here to make it worth revisiting these games so that they can finally be conquered. If you were defeated by either of these games back the the early-to-mid 1990s, then check out this collection and rewind your way to victory! Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is available now for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Promotional consideration provided by Nighthawk Interactive PR. Nintendo Switch version played for this review.