First Released: MegaDrive/Genesis (1992), NES (1994) Now Available On: N/A
Disney's Aladdin showed 20 years ago that it was possible to make decent video games based on movies. The title took inspiration from the 1992 film of the same name (yeah, the one with Robin Williams going mental as the blue genie), but succeeded in transferring this into gameplay that was bright, fun and engaging. Shame it was followed by so many years of dross tie-ins.
For the purposes of clarity, it should be noted that we are discussing the 1993 MegaDrive version, and not the later NES and SNES games. Developed by Virgin Interactive and published by platform-holder SEGA, the Prince of Persia-lite platform game used Disney's animation talent to really recreate the illustrated feel of the movie.
The player becomes Aladdin, the Middle Eastern folk hero featured in The Book of One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, but very much Disneyfied for his big-screen, animated outing. Aladdin is a thief, but a loveable one; an arrogant rogue, but also a "diamond in the rough", who just happens to have well chiselled features.
In the game, you get tinny electronic versions of the movie's soundtrack (as was the rage in those days), and all the main characters are recreated in 16-bit graphics, including the jive talking Genie; the impossibly perfect Princess Jasmine; the cheeky monkey Abu; the dastardly parrot Iago; and the fiendish Grand Vizier Jafar, who craves all the power in the world and sees the Genie as his meal ticket.
The game succeeded in travelling through various parts of the movie - from the rooftops of Agrabah through the Cave of Wonders to the Sultan's Palace - without feeling too much like a gameplay shoe-horn had been applied. It was a side-scrolling platformer that involved lots of running, jumping and sword slashing.
You dashed through the levels dodging projectiles and obstacles, leaping onto platforms, climbing up ropes, shimmying across bars and taking out enemies with a scimitar or throwable apples. Indeed, Aladdin is particularly fond of the fruit and happily snaffles them as though he were Mario gobbling up coins. Gems could also be collected and traded for more lives and continues with merchants.
Alongside the levels, there were bonus rounds earned by picking up Genie or Abu icons in the levels. Abu's bonus rounds put you in control of the monkey, who had to smash icons that fell from the sky while not getting hit. The Genie rounds involved a game of chance inside the blue genie's mouth, in which you could win apples, gems, extra lives and continues.
Disney's Aladdin received a generally positive verdict from the critics, and was later ported to the Genesis, NES, SNES, the Game Boy and the Master System, along with the PC. Instead of providing a soulless advert for the movie of the same name, the game provided an enjoyable and engaging experience that was built for the medium. Come on people, it's not that hard.
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