Genre: Action Platformer
When I was younger, I certainly fell for the “game based on a movie so I’ve got to have it” ploy a few times. Thankfully, since I was a big fan of Disney movies growing up, I managed to have more good games to play through than awful ones. Anyone who played Disney games growing up knows that while there were some stinkers, they had some of the best movie-to-game translations in the business. Case in point: Aladdin. Now, Aladdin was released on various systems, and while the gameplay was not so different between platforms that it detracted from the concept, each system seemed to get its own version that was individual from the others. Since I grew up on the Super Nintendo version, I decided to go back and play that one. My apologies if you played through the Sega version and feel neglected as this review continues.
Writing a synopsis seems redundant, as most people know what Aladdin entails. You play as the young street rat, followed around by your sidekick, Abu, a monkey (who really doesn’t do much in the game but start trouble). As you progress, you save a princess in disguise, who you fall in love with, and find a magic lamp. After rubbing it, you make friends with the genie inside, who offers three wishes. There’s an evil sorcerer, however, who wants that power, so you must stop him before he can become all powerful and overtake your kingdom, Agrabah.
The levels take the basic platforming that we all know and love and refine it well. Swinging over pits, zip-lining across rooftops, and bouncing off of stalagmites are just some of the ways your acrobatic hero will conquer each level. Attacking enemies consists of jumping on them or throwing apples, if you’ve collected them. To gain extra lives, you can find a Golden Scarab, which will bring you to a Wheel of Fortune-esque mini-game where you can win aforementioned lives or an entire continue. Gaining lives in this game is pretty easy, though the game stays at a moderate difficulty throughout.
Those of you who remember the movie will find that the game is pretty authentic so far as the locales go for each level. You’ll visit the streets of Agrabah, the Cave of Wonders, and even the inside of the Genie’s lamp. One level, apparently specific to the Super Nintendo version, even finds you flying through an enemy-free starlit sky to the tune of ‘A Whole New World’. Only one level didn’t strike my memory which was the inside of a pyramid, but it felt right at home in the game. There is a definite warm and nostalgic feeling to this game.
The game itself is pretty darn near perfect in execution. The controls handle well with very little of the ‘slippery’ feeling you get from some SNES platformers. Collision detection is also pretty head-on. The game even holds the hand of people who haven’t seen the movie with cut-scenes between levels, and while the dialogue in them isn’t exactly Shakespeare, it’s enough to push the plot of the game along.
If I had one gripe, it would be that there seem to be so many different versions of the game. I know this is more of a general thing than specific to this game itself, but it’s hard to imagine turning to someone and saying “Hey, how did you like (insert part here)” only to be responded to with a questioning glance. I feel like I’m missing out on something by having only played one version of the game.
In short, no gripes about the game itself, just how the title was handled in general.
The music is classic Disney faire, with versions of ‘Friend Like Me’ and ‘One Jump’ accompanying you through your journey. The music is chip tune happiness at its finest. Every song is a fantastic accompaniment to the tone and pace of the level it is placed with, and any fan of the movie will be pleased. Even if you’re not someone who knows or loves the movie, it’s hard to deny the cheeriness and mystique of the soundtrack, though it is incredibly “16 Bit”.
The graphics are great, as well. They are cartoony and vividly colored, and just about everything appears to be what it should be. While a couple of the cut scenes have the awkward malformed feeling that many cartoon adaptations have in transition to console games, the levels throughout the actual game that you play through are well drawn. Nothing too fancy, but certainly easy on the eyes.
This game is a fantastic reference to platformers of yore, and it certainly holds up in the grand scheme of things. I found a few frustrating parts to get through (carpet rides are just awful), but it was a matter of my skill and timing rather than poor design. If you’re trying to get someone to play a platformer that is not a Mario game, this is a good game to get them to sit down to. It’s definitely got a ‘kiddy’ vibe to it, but it’s incredibly enjoyable, and it doesn’t feel like many will discriminate just based on that by playing through the game. I personally loved this game as much as I did as a kid, but I appreciate it more now as someone who has been gaming for years.