Today, we’re going to talk about Aladdin and The Lion King games. But before we do, I want us to remember something. Every gamer has a game that they remember with joy-filled eyes during wonderous play sessions. For me, my brain instantly travels back to the Toejam and Earl games. They were relatively easy yet presented a tough challenge for seven or eight-year-old me. The first was an isometric game, the second a side-scrolling platformer. It was heaven. We’ll toss these games into a pile called “pleasure gaming”.
Then there are games that can break the hearts, smiles, and imaginations of a young gamer, ripping the soul from their body before they stomp it flat into the ground. These are the types of games that will make you scream in frustration, praying to God that you’ll live right for the rest of your days if he can just let you beat this one level. You promise you won’t sass your mom anymore and you’ll always make sure to do your homework before playing any games in the future. This pile of games is going to be called “obliteration gaming”. That’s where games like Aladdin and The Lion King come in. I remember getting stuck on one level in particular which we’ll talk about a little further into the review.
For the younger audience, I invite you to peer into the past and experience the Dark Souls of my youth. This is the review of Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King.
Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King – Main menu
I grabbed my wife and myself a couple of beers as we headed off down this dark, tumultuous path I hadn’t nearly long enough forgotten. Hearing the intro music sent a chill dancing down my spine, reminding me of the crying and frustration I endured as a kid. The 16-bit soundtrack spews memorable hits; “The Circle of Life” has never been more appropriate.
The Lion King is located to the right on the main menu as you’ll first land on Aladdin. There are some pretty cool extras to explore in the Museum, including video interviews with the creators of the game and the original artwork for both games. There are also two handheld versions of both games, one monochrome and one in color. For the main titles, there are Console S and Console N versions, the Japanese versions, and for Aladdin, there’s an all-new “Final Cut” version which was designed exclusively for this collection. It’s said to contain “difficulty adjustments, camera refinements, bug fixes, as well as a few additional surprises for fans.”
There’s also a new “Rewind” feature that’s basically to show mercy on unsuspecting players—if you die, just rewind and you’ll be back to the spot before your lack of skills lead you to your doom. Also new, and probably the best addition to the entire collection is the save feature. That’s right, in the old games, when you lost all of your lives, you started over. Lose all of your lives and continue too much and you’ll have to continue from the beginning. And by beginning, I mean the main menu. Yup, this is about as brutal as they come. You noobs with your autosaves and bonfires, you don’t know what devastatingly difficult is.
I don’t know about you, but when I abuse myself I like my damage original, raw, and uncut. We’ll start with The Lion King and see how it goes. We load up the Console S version.
Playing The Lion King
On the very first level, we’re greeted by a cute and adorably young Simba, looking so happy to get out and there and make Mufasa proud. This is a platforming game, but a truly unforgiving one. Your basic controls consist of a meager growl that’s enough to scare small lizards and porcupines, but you’ll have to manage your ‘growl meter’ displayed at the top left of the screen. On the top right, there’s a health bar. Like you’d expect, when this runs out, you die. Moving along.
In the jungle, the mighty jungle
When you see your first enemy, a slick little lizard, give it a growl before it assaults you with its tongue and he’ll literally shiver in fear. Jump on top of him and he’s done. You can also roll by running and pressing the ‘down’ d-pad or holding the joysticks down. This is a great move for bamboozling those pesky porcupines. There’s also an explosive beetle. You should growl at it. After you die, know that I simply wanted to share of bit of my pain with you. To defeat the small blue beetle, jumping on him but quickly move away as he’s about to explode. You can also jump, run, and jump some more. If you’re a bit short on your landing, Simba will grab the edges like the cunning little kitty he is and pull himself up.
That’s the long and short of it. Where the real challenge lies within the ability to do these things in succession. This game is difficult; a part of it is from the clunky old controls, and a part of it is by design. You see, Westwood co-founder Louis Castle explained that the team was instructed to make The Lion King so hard by Disney. Back in the days before Netflix, there were these amazing places called “video stores”. They rented movies and video games. Disney instructed the devs to design the game in such a way that it wouldn’t be easily beaten during a rental period. This, Louis says, would hopefully encourage players to actually purchase the game to complete it.
Did anyone else watch the live-action version of Aladdin? It was absolutely stunning. Anyway…
The Aladdin game is different from The Lion King. Obviously it’s a different story, but gameplay-wise the mechanics seem a lot more combat-oriented than The Lion King, although you’ll notice a very similar looking style set. It is Disney, after all. One thing is for certain: Aladdin is pretty damn difficult, too.
Simple to learn, nearly impossible to master
The top left of the screen shows your total life represented by a genie lamp. The smoke from the lamp is your health. Run out of the smoke, run out of life. To the bottom right, you have jewels that can be used at an in-game merchant to buy lives or wishes. You also have apples, which are throwable weapons. You’ll collect these frequently, and make sure to get every single one that you can as some areas are extremely difficult to pass without them.
Basic mechanics for Aladdin include swiping your sword, jumping, and throwing apples. You also have the ability to traverse ropes and other obstacles without ease. One particular part has your Arabian hero collecting snake charmer flutes in order to summon magic ropes needed to get to elevated areas. These small touches add to the games setting, although the ropes still prove difficult to climb and jump from.
The problems with controls still permeate here just like they did in The Lion King. Every sword fight, apple throw, and jump feels like a complete and utter struggle as you die time and time again. I’m not sure if they’re too loose or just not that responsive, but true to the original, they’re difficult to learn. I’d bet the controls are almost impossible for most players to master. Playing through some of the earlier levels exposes you to difficult fire pit jumps, palace guards trying to mutilate your flesh with razor-sharp swords, and spitting camels that can be used as a weapon to dispose of foes who oppose how you roll. BARS!
Jumping is really, really hard
For example, in one difficult area, you have to jump onto the leaves of desert palm trees, but standing for more than a brief moment will cause you to slide down and need to start back over. Now as I had mentioned before, you could use the rewind feature and alleviate this painful ailment. But you’re not going to do that, are you? No, you’re not. You’re sick like me.
The difficulty raises tremendously as you advance further into the game. Utilizing the new mechanics such as rewind and state saves will ease your burden, as there’s nothing quite as frustrating as playing for a long time just to die and start all the way over.
Aladdin and The Lion King are just as I remember them.
If you’re buying this game, you fall into one of three camps:
- You’re a die-hard Disney fan and you’re trying to support your favorite media company while reliving some childhood dreams
- You are a balls-to-the-wall gamer who likes the challenge of life’s most difficult games and/or you can speedrun The Lion King in 12:42 seconds on the hardest difficulty
- You’re a masochist
These games are some of the toughest I’ve ever played. From the unforgiving platforming and clunky controls to not being able to save (although to be fair, this has changed with this new collection for both Aladdin and The Lion King), they’re about as unforgiving as games can be.
High Ping Gaming received a copy of this game for review. No other monetary compensation was exchanged and all opinions are solely that of the author.