Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King Review – Setting a New Benchmark

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King Review

Back in the early-mid 90s, there were three developers who made Disney-related video games: Virgin, Capcom, and Sega. Disney Classic Games: Aladdin And The Lion King is a celebration of Virgin Interactive’s titles. If you grew up with a Super Nintendo, this is the Lion King game you know and love, but not the Aladdin one. This is the version of Aladdin that was exclusive to the Sega Genesis, and the version of the Lion King that was the same on both consoles.

So that’s one elephant out of the room. The other one is that Virgin made a Jungle Book game before Aladdin, and a Pinocchio game after The Lion King. Why this isn’t a full tilt Virgin Disney games collection is beyond me. But this collection has to be reviewed for what it is, and not what I want it to be, and what it is, is an incredibly thorough and loving homage to two platforming classics.

This is the only way to play these two games on modern consoles. Aladdin was the third best-selling game for the Sega Genesis, and it hasn’t been featured on any of their collections or the Genesis Mini. The games are both excellent. They’re both platforming games with mild amounts of action, and just enough level variation to keep things fresh. Usually the player is running from left to right, and hitting the baddies in between, but Aladdin features a level where the player is trying to outrun a lava wave, and the Lion King features a forward running level where Simba is in danger of being trampled by wildebeests.

Retro Platforming at Its Best

Although to the modern gamer it might not seem like there’s a lot to these games, in their day they were both pinnacles of the platforming genre, proudly standing alongside console mascots Mario and Sonic. If I had any complaints about either game, it’s that Aladdin’s camera drags too much; the player needs to get very close to the edge of the screen in order to advance it. And the Lion King is unreasonably difficult at times. There’s hard and then there’s swinging on hippo tails in the second level.

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Holy smokes did developer Digital Eclipse outdo themselves when it comes to game features. Both games can be saved at any time, and have a feature where the player can just watch a complete play through. There are multiple versions of each game. In addition to its original Sega Genesis incarnation, there is also a demo version of the game, a Japanese version, a black and white handheld version, a color handheld version, and a Final Cut version, which has difficulty adjustments, camera refinements, and bug fixes. The Lion King features the Super Nintendo version, Sega version, Japanese version, black and white handheld version, and color handheld version. All versions have settings for difficulty, invulnerability that can be turned on and off, level selection, and fully mapable controls. There’s even a rewind feature that only requires holding down a button to use. All games are presented in 1080p and have adjustable aspect ratios, borders, and screen filters. These once powerfully difficult games are very playable, in every conceivable way.

Goodies in Abundance

If all those game features weren’t enough, there are soundtracks and Museums for both games. The Museum contains videos for both games that include in depth making-ofs, color tests, and creator Q&As. Aladdin features game art, that includes deleted ideas, production art, color guides, pencil tests, and information about the Digicel game animation process. Both games feature movie art that includes character art, color guides, size comparisons, and style guides.

Two classic platformers and more extras than you can shake a stick at! Disney Classic Games: Aladdin And The Lion King is the new benchmark for how to release retro games in the modern world. If you’re at all curious, or are wondering if you should give these classics another look, the answer is yes! There has never been a more thorough release of retro games.

*** PS4 code provided by the publisher ***

The Good

  • Multiple game versions
  • Rewind, level select, and save features
  • Making of material

The Bad

  • Where are the Jungle Book and Pinocchio