Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King Review – Revisiting Classic Tales

Anybody that owned a SEGA Genesis or Super Nintendo either heard about or knew of the Disney licensed movie games. Throughout the 16-bit console era, a number of these games were released based on classic Disney animated films, which were tied to their theatrical releases. Two of these games, Aladdin and The Lion King, have since become classics of the era to many gamers who grew who playing them. It’s this heavy nostalgia that makes the collection in Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King so appealing. But while there’s a lot of extra content and neat surprises included in this bundle, these are essentially the same games from years prior. And yes, they’re still challenging to play through, but they also come with some cool additions that fans will appreciate.

The bundle comes with multiple versions of both Aladdin and The Lion King, with different visual filters and aspect ratios you can tweak in the options menu. This includes the SEGA version of Aladdin from 1993. These games were made by Virgin and Disney Interactive. Anyone looking for the alternate Super Nintendo version of the game will be disappointed since it’s left out, that version was made by Capcom back in the day. To make up for this however, we get a Final Cut version that has a few bug fixes and additional tweaks of the SEGA version, which many have considered to be the best over the years. Comparing the original to the Final Cut, you can feel the difference when playing through both. It’s a nice change to the beloved game, but not everything that was cut from the original release gets put back in, making the changes done for the Final Cut focused more on the technical.

And finally there’s the Japanese version and a demo version of Aladdin that was revealed in 1993 during the Chicago CES. The Japanese version is the same game as the North American SEGA game, with some of the text changes to Japanese. Strange enough, not all of it is translated or changed, so you can still play through it without an issue. The trade show demo of Aladdin is exactly what you might expect, an unfinished version of Aladdin that is about three stages long and filled with many bugs and incomplete areas.

You can play through the full demo without an issue, but you can also easily break the game in a few ways that will require a reset. One example of this is in the prototype Genie stage, where you can accidentally cause the camera to lock up with Aladdin off-screen and cause the sprites to duplicate and go haywire. Stuff like this can get very goofy, but understandably it’s a trade show demo that was incomplete nearly 20 years ago. To normal people this wouldn’t be appealing at all, but anyone who has loved Aladdin over the years will find some value in seeing how the game was before its official release.

The Lion King is where things are a bit more lackluster for this collection, and that’s not referring to the game itself. Unlike Aladdin, The Lion King has both the Genesis and Super Nintendo versions included, with the only differences being their sound quality between both. The gameplay is identical. And while you do get a Japanese version of The Lion King as well, based on the SNES version in North America, there isn’t much else beyond that. The Lion King doesn’t get a Final Cut version like Aladdin nor a demo, which makes this part of the collection feel slimmer than the rest. It would’ve been great to see a Final Cut version of The Lion King that addressed many of the big problems that causes the game to be so challenging, especially with the later stages that become incredibly frustrating. It just feels like most of the attention for the collection was more focused on Aladdin.

What is great to see however is the ability to rewind your gameplay, as well as quick save or load at any time. This makes getting through some of the tougher sections in both titles a lot more manageable, even if you grew up playing these games and want a more authentic experience. It’s nice to have the option there for when you might need it. A nice feature for every version of the games included is a Watch mode, which shows you a full playthrough of any game included here, but you also have the ability to jump into the section you’re watching and continue playing from there. For anyone that may have struggled in these games, this is a great way to see how to overcome some of the challenges or just see everything through to the end. Doing this however will disable any achievements or trophies you can get on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, so don’t expect an easy win there.

But what about the extra content? Anyone looking for behind the scenes and videos showing the making of these games will be very pleased. There’s multiple videos showing the development and interviews with the creatives behind both games, though the video quality is in standard format and show their age with the pixelated visuals. These are still great to watch however, since some of these interviews haven’t been seen for many years. The Lion King section of the extras even includes a special Lion King Dinner release event that most people have never seen, which shows the promotional show for The Lion King theatrical release and discussion about the game, complete with puppetry and musical acts.

Missing from these videos are any interviews or reactions from the voice actors from the films, which were used in the games. Nothing from Robin Williams about the Genie in the Aladdin game, no James Earl Jones or Jonathon Taylor Thomas about their characters being in the game, nor anyone else. This would’ve been interesting to see since both games use the same actors that voiced the characters in the film, but this could’ve been due to a variety of reasons we will probably never know.

The last portion of extras in the Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King collection include the Game Boy version of both titles. These do not hold up well at all and have really aged poorly over time. It’s neat to see them included since they were part of the campaign for both, but each game is very lackluster compared to their console counterparts. You can play through them with the original Game Boy visuals or a colorized version (like on the Game Boy Color), but the games are still the same.

Finally, there’s the soundtracks of both titles that you can listen to in the menus. Aladdin has more tracks you can listen to between all of its versions, while The Lion King only has the Super Nintendo soundtrack available. It’s definitely not as good as any of the other bonuses included, but a nice touch for those who love the renditions of the classic Disney music in 16-bit.

Overall the Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King collection is geared towards those who grew up playing these games. Whether you believe that $30 for multiple ports of the same game is worth it or not, those interested in everything else around outside of the games will find good value in this collection. The bonus content alone is enticing enough for both Disney fans and those just love both games, since there’s so much compiled in here. It would’ve been nice to see the same treatment for Aladdin be applied to The Lion King with the additional Final Cut and demo versions included, which would’ve only added to the value of this collection for everyone. If you never played either Aladdin or The Lion King before, then this is the best way to play two classic action games that made a significant impact back in the day, even if they are still very challenging.

This review is based on a digital review code for Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King on Nintendo Switch, provided by Digital Eclipse.

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