Monday 13 June 2016

Disney's Aladdin (Game Gear review)

Developer: SIMS
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1994

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

There's nine stages and your mission is to find the magical lamp, defeat Jafar and rescue Princess Jasmine. Unlike the Mega Drive and SNES versions, Aladdin has no attacks apart from being able to stun bad guys by collecting and throwing rocks. He can, however, sprint to evade incoming threats, slide under objects, and crawl to avoid spikes. The first two stages take the form of an endless runner; here you sprint from a guard while jumping over barrels and instant death traps. Despite the small screen size it plays well and challenges your reactions in a fair manner. Things then switch as you enter a cave (and later a Palace) while freely controlling Aladdin in the search for keys to unlock doors. Annoyingly, the controls are slightly delayed, especially when trying to duck from an incoming bat. However, despite the wonky controls the slower-paced gameplay is enjoyable as you hunt around for items, stun guards with rocks and hit switches to open new areas. Later, the variety continues with a magic carpet ride where the objective is to avoid falling rocks and lava pits. Unfortunately this section is very short, and with tons of health pickups it's a let-down due to how little challenge it poses. The game has unlimited continues but with few levels and a low difficulty it doesn't take long until you've seen everything. The lack of bosses is disappointing as you only face Snake Jafar in an easy, final battle. The storytelling is outstanding though with a heavy focus on animated cut-scenes that get you emotionally invested. The animation is great and I love how Aladdin's cape flaps when he's running as a Prince.
While Aladdin on the Game Gear isn't as entertaining as its 16-bit counterparts there's still a lot to appreciate and it's worth a look if you're a fan of slower-paced action-platformers. It undeniably has some faults but the exploratory levels and minor puzzle solving brings a refreshing twist to the genre's usual fare.
Random trivia: In 1994, this version of Disney's Aladdin was also released exclusively in Europe on the Sega Master System.

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