We give the platforming classic from the 16bit era the once over. Does it still fly high like a magic carpet ride?
There’s one thing that I remember really all the Disney platformers from the age of the SNES and Genesis for, and that’s the difficulty. Our own Erich definitely dove into that aspect in last weeks Retro Review with Lion King, and I’m going right back there for Disney’s Aladdin.
No, Aladdin isn’t as tough as Lion King, not by a long shot actually, but it’s still a challenge. What’s strange is that I don’t remember it being quite this nasty. I beat this game a few times as a kid, and although it wasn’t easy, it never felt impossible to me. Maybe it’s the change in eras taking effect on me, but this game kicked my butt this week.
Some sections required multiple playthroughs, and not for lack of skill. Jumping on a brick and having it drop without warning for example, isn’t fun. That’s especially true when you have no energy left and have to fight past some guards.
Energy isn’t plentiful in Agrabah either, and Aladdin’s sword seems painfully short. It seems way too easy to go up against a guard and have him decimate you, while you flail about. Some of the hit detection felt off too, though that might just be me. Oh, and the bosses? Annoying is an understatement.
Now, you might think that all that would mean that I didn’t have a good time delving back into the Arabian Nights. You’d be wrong though, and it’s all because of everything else being so damn good.
Side-scrolling platformers don’t get much better looking than Aladdin. Absolutely everything in this game is ‘A+’, and that’s not something that you see all that often, especially for what’s a movie adaptation at its core.
The graphics are stunning here, with bright and vivid characters and backgrounds that are loaded with detail. Seriously, there’s all kinds of cool stuff drawn in all over the courses that Aladdin presents. Early on, there’s even a set of Mickey Mouse ears hanging on a clothes line. It’s neat stuff like that scores points with fans, and it’s plentiful here.
As I mentioned too, the characters look fantastic. The designs themselves are dead-on in reference to the movie of the same name, and the animation is terrific. And I don’t just mean Aladdin and Genie, every character has a great set of animations, right down to the most annoying -I mean- most common of guards.
Likewise, the music is terrific. You won’t find a fully voiced cast here, this is 16bit after all, but the music is excellent. The Genesis was able to pump out some terrific tunes back in its heyday, and that’s in full effect here.
I also have to mention the controls, which are pretty darn good too. I know, I was complaining about stuff that would seem to indicate the control is bad, but it really isn’t. The trial-and-error portions of the game are what really annoyed me most, but that was fairly common back in the age of 16bit. And other than that, this game is spot on in terms of jumping, throwing projectiles (apples), and smashing with your tiny lil’ sword.
Original release date: November 26th, 1993
Platform(s): Sega Genesis, a different version was published for the SNES by Capcom
Publisher: Virgin Games
Developer: Disney Interactive