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  • John Bush

Game Review #449: Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Mar 22, 2020

Reviewer: John B Developer: Digital Eclipse Publisher: Disney Interactive Category: Adventure, Platformer Release Date: 10.29.2019 Price: $29.99

Buy Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King from Amazon here.

The Heroes We Deserve

Digital Eclipse is out there doing God’s work. They’ve spent the past few years remastering and updating classic games so that they can be played on modern consoles and discovered by a whole new generation of gamers. Today we’re looking at their latest release—and one of their most impressive—Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King for the Nintendo Switch. It’s the most comprehensive collection of two games you’ll ever see, and it doesn’t hurt that the games collected happen to be platforming classics. The games are Aladdin and The Lion King, if that wasn’t made clear by the title. So let’s take a journey, ladies and gentlemen, back to when movie tie-in games weren’t total crap all the time.

Some Whole New Worlds

Aladdin collects the Sega Genesis version of the game from Westwood Studios, not the Capcom one for the SNES. It also collects a “final cut” of that game with some bug and camera fixes, as well as a demo uncovered during the remastering process and the Japanese release of the game. It’s also got the Game Boy and Game Boy Color versions. They all play pretty much the same, with a few small balance and graphical differences. Except the Game Boy versions, which leave a lot to be desired. Personally, my favorite game was the final cut—it felt the smoothest out of all the options, but I could barely find any difference between it and the Genesis release—or Console G, as the game calls it.

You’ve only got a few actions available to you—like running, throwing apples, slashing with your sword, and jumping—but these options combine to form an incredibly smooth action platformer. You use these actions to move around the screen and solve some pathfinding puzzles to open up ways to advance through the levels. I won’t say that the game is absolutely perfect—much like when I was like 10 years old playing this game on the Genesis, there were numerous times when I could swear I hit jump but the darn street rat didn’t jump! I’m not saying I’m the god of platforming or anything, but the inputs do occasionally feel slow. Still, the game design is solid and it all works well enough to be fun.

But then you get to the Game Boy versions, and, well… yikes. Things take a pretty drastic turn for the worse. The graphics aren’t as good, which is fine considering the Game Boy’s capabilities—and this wouldn’t be a deal-breaker on its own—but then there’s the pace of the action, which is considerably slower and way laggier. It’s nice that they were included in the collection, but they’re a lot less fun to play.

I Just Can’t Wait to Play King

The Lion King portions of the collection feature five different editions of the game: the Genesis release, the SNES release, the Japanese release, and the Game Boy release, available in color and the original Game Boy’s grey dot matrix. The genesis and SNES releases have slightly different graphics—I think I prefer the SNES, even though I played the game on the Genesis when I was a kid. The animations just look smoother and the graphics are sharper. The Game Boy versions… well, same deal as Aladdin. They look like Game Boy games, and they play much slower and a lot less smoothly than their console counterparts. It’s cool that the GB stuff was included, but I’d recommend sticking to the console games.

Lion King has the same simple but challenging feel to its gameplay as Aladdin, but definitely feels less balanced. You can run, jump, and roar. Roaring is your way to interact with your environment, using it to flip over porcupines so you can pounce on them without hurting yourself and scare monkeys into turning around so they throw you in a different direction—be honest... how many of you perfectly understood that last sentence? Anyway, jumping on enemies is the way to dispatch them, and, uh… it’s not very accurate. I’m not sure where the hit boxes are exactly, and that can make pouncing on enemies kind of frustrating. Lion King has the same slight input lag as Aladdin, too, which makes the platforming frustrating at times.

Now Museum, Now You See ‘Em

The games are fine and all, but my favorite feature of this collection is, hands-down, the museum mode which lets you see movies and concept art from the development of both games—as well as both films! I love extra features that let people peek behind the scenes. The museum features interviews with tons of members of the game development team, as well as the Disney animation studio talking about different aspects of creating both the game and the movie—sometimes both at the same time! I also loved getting a look at the design sheets for all of the different characters, seeing the way the in-game animations took shape, and the artists’ notes about their designs. It’s just a fascinating set of extras to add to a game—I wouldn’t be averse to more games giving this kind of stuff a try.

Old Games, New Coat of Paint

Graphically, the games look like they’re from the SNES/Genesis or Game Boy era. That’s mostly because they are, I suppose, but the 16-bit games still have some visual charm going on. Part of it is the hand-animated character sprites—which I learned about in the museum—which look fantastic even by today’s pixel art standards. You can even apply filters that emulate the screen effects of different types of older TV screens and computer monitors. It just makes things look cloudier and less… good… but it’s a neat feature. The audio is remastered as well, and sounds as sharp as I remember it being—but it probably wasn’t. The songs are mostly based off songs from the movies, so you can be sure going in that you already like the music—unless you’re a soulless monster who hated the music from the two greatest animated musical movies of all time.

A Whole New Circle of Life

I loved playing these games on the Genesis when I was a kid—yeah, I was a Sega kid. My darkest secret is revealed. But that’s not the point today—the point is about Aladdin and The Lion King. The Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King collection does something very hard to do—reaffirm that my nostalgia for these games isn’t misplaced. Having the chance to play them on the Switch, I feel vindicated in my opinions of these games. They feature lush visuals and great soundtracks, and the museum features make for a fascinating cherry on top. If you’re into classic gaming or just platforming games in general, this is one to pick up quick.

Score: 7/10

Buy Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King from Amazon here.

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

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