Game Reviews

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King Review

A stellar collection of two great games

by Kyle Hanson

Remember the 90’s? When Disney was releasing new animated movies that reshaped the landscape and you rented video games from a store? Sure you do. It was a glorious time when every new movie had to have a tie-in video game whether it worked or not. Thankfully some of them did work and two of the all time greats in this regard are Aladdin and Lion King. Both fantastic films, but their game releases were also well received and have become cult favorites among retro gamers who remember them fondly. And now they’re being re-released in a fairly massive collection dubbed Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King. Packed full of features and options despite some odd omissions, this is an amazing package for fans of the films or games alike.

Listing everything available in Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King  would take quite a lot of time. In essence you get multiple versions of both Aladdin and The Lion King. For the former everything is based on the Sega Genesis version, skipping the quite different release on Super Nintendo. This is almost certainly a licensing issue rather than a design choice, but it is no less unfortunate for fans of that particular release. If you do prefer the Genesis version, as I do, then it’s not that impactful, but still sad that that large an item is missing from an otherwise comprehensive collection.

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Along with copies of the originals of Aladdin on Sega Genesis and The Lion King on Genesis and SNES, you have modifications or other versions. Each has the Japanese release of the game, while Aladdin has a special demo version and gets special treatment in a Final Cut version newly created for this set. Along with bug fixes and minor technical changes, the Final Cut offers tweaks to difficulty and special surprises for fans. If you haven’t played the original already it can be tough to pin point the specific changes in most cases, but this is improved version is the best way to play no matter your history. Even better, Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King includes the handheld versions released for Game Boy, as well as the enhanced color versions.

a delightful collection for two of the greats of their generation

Of course, if you’ve never played these games before you may wonder how good they really are. They were great for their day, though The Lion King had difficulty issues that put a huge damper on the experience for many (more on this later), but even with that it’s a great example of 90’s platforming. Taking you through the entire movie, players will love watching the classic story unfold all while playing through some enjoyable and challenging platforming stages. Aladdin is similar, but better in almost every way. Aladdin on Sega Genesis is simply a platformer classic in every way and is one of the greats of its generation. If you haven’t played through it before, you are in for a real treat. And those who have enjoyed it previously will find that it has barely aged a day in the intervening years.

So the core game experiences are excellent and the team has gone a step further in including alternate and improved versions, but what else do you get for your $30? A lot, actually. There’s the basic stuff you typically expect in a re-release or emulator, such as enhanced visuals and save state support, though multiple save files would have been appreciated. Although having the in-game ability to rewind if you make a mistake somewhat makes up for this. There are a fair amount of options as well, with borders to choose from or filters to apply, if you wish. If you’re like me though you want to turn most of this off and enjoy as basic an experience as possible, and that’s allowed thankfully.

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The biggest new feature involves that particular complaint levied against these older titles before: their difficulty. To combat this and allow fans to simply experience the games however they wish, Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King includes a really cool new feature with the Interactive Game Viewer. Many versions, though somewhat oddly not all of them, include what’s basically a video of someone playing through the title. At any point you can fast forward or rewind the video and even jump in and take over the gameplay session. This is fairly brilliant work and will surely be a necessary inclusion in releases like this going forward. It’s just unfortunate that it’s not on every version, but it’s on the ones that matter.

Finally, for the truly dedicated fans there’s a large archive of visual material, including behind-the-scenes footage, making of documentaries, and art. This spans both the games and the movies themselves, so they’re worth checking out no matter which you prefer. There’s no single piece here that’s worth dedicating a ton of time to, but they’re all nice inclusions and help round out the offering. The result is that Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King feels like a totally comprehensive collection that not only brings the games back to life but expands fans’ enjoyment of them along the way.

The Verdict

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is a delightful collection for two of the greats of their generation. These platformers were already fantastic and had aged particularly well. Still they were tough to enjoy for many, but this set fixes that in almost every way imaginable. The Interactive Game Viewer in particular will be lauded by fans for years to come. The only flaw is odd cuts here and there, such as versions without the Game Viewer, or the missing SNES version of Aladdin. Even with these omissions though, Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is a great set for returning fans or potential new ones.

"loved"
loved

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

  • Available On: Switch, PS4, Xbox One, PC
  • Published By: Disney, Nighthawk Interactive
  • Developed By: Digital Eclipse
  • Genre: Platforming
  • US Release Date: October 29th, 2019
  • Reviewed On: Switch
  • Quote: "Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is a delightful collection for two of the greats of their generation."
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