Sunday 11 October 2020

Disney's Aladdin (Sega Master System review)

Developer: SIMS
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1994

Disney's Aladdin is a European exclusive action-platformer that's based on the 1992 movie.

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 where you sprint from a guard while jumping over barrels and instant death traps. It plays well and challenges your reactions in a fair manner while being an intense introduction. Things then switch as you enter a cave (and later a Palace) while freely controlling Aladdin in the search for keys to unlock doors. The controls are slightly delayed, particularly when trying to duck from an incoming bat, leading to some unfair hits. Despite the wonky controls though, the slower-paced gameplay is decent 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 you must avoid falling rocks and lava pits. Unfortunately this section is brief, 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 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.

Disney's Aladdin places emphasis on level design variety and on the whole it succeeds while closely mirroring the plot and locales of the movie. Some may understandably find its lack of challenge to be off-putting, but on the whole it's well crafted and presented, especially when you consider its impressive cut-scenes and animation.

Random trivia: The game was also released on the Sega Game Gear in 1994.

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