Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Disney's Aladdin (Mega Drive / Genesis review)

Developer: Virgin Games USA
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1993

Disney's Aladdin is an action-platformer that's based on the 1992 film of the same name.

Your mission is to snatch the Genie's lamp, battle the evil Jafar and rescue Princess Jasmine. Apples can be collected to throw at enemies, but unlike the SNES version (1993), Aladdin has a scimitar to slash attack at close-range. Your journey includes battles along the Rooftops, in the Sultan's Dungeon, and at Jafar's Palace, and each level is incredibly well designed, with linear, yet sprawling landscapes that offer many secret items for those that like to explore. Rather than just heading for the exit, the objectives frequently change and task you with collecting flutes, or hitting a certain number of statues. Aladdin is very acrobatic and hangs from ropes that launch him into the air, rides magic carpets, swings across floating balloons, and runs from giant boulders; it's exhilarating and the constant shift in gameplay elements is great. I also love the opening Market level where you jump on a camel so it spits phlegm at an enemy! There's tons of cool graphical effects, such as in the Dungeon level where wrecking balls swing in and out of the screen, requiring you to time your movements carefully. As a whole, the challenge is fair but there are minor annoyances, such as the pesky bats that blend into the background, and the Boulder Chase sequence where the screen doesn't scroll quick enough for you to react. In the Bonus Levels, you play as Abu and try to collect gems while dodging projectiles from above; it's simple but enjoyable, in a similar fashion to a Nintendo Game & Watch title. The fluid animation is remarkable and the music does a great job of mirroring the film's tracks to enhance the atmosphere.
Disney's Aladdin is a charming game and it shows how, with a little care, popular franchises can be successfully morphed into videogame format. While it does fall just short of classic status, it still has some solid gameplay ideas and tons of variety that will keep you occupied for repeated play-throughs.
Random trivia: The game was also ported to the Commodore Amiga and MS-DOS.

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