Review – Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King

Back when I was a kid, it seemed like almost every popular movie had their own licensed game. Most of them were pretty terrible though. There were however, two games that really stood out to me as well done and fun movie based games. Those were Aladdin and The Lion King, both produced by Virgin and Disney Interactive. Now, over twenty-five years later, they are both being ported to the Switch. Does the magic from my youth hold up to today’s standards or does it fall short? Let’s hop onto our magic carpets and find out.

As soon as I turned on my Switch and powered up the collection, I was instantly hit with nostalgia. The chiptune recreations of those iconic Disney melodies brought me right back to the time when I sunk endless hours into these games. Then I started playing them. That’s when it all came screaming back to me: games back then were punishingly hard.

Disney Classic Games

Be prepared to see this screen a lot.

I started off by playing Aladdin first since I remembered that one being a little more difficult. That’s a bit of an understatement. It can be infuriatingly tough at times. You play as the titular Aladdin, making your way across Agrabah as you follow along with the events of the movie. You’ll visit the marketplace, the Cave of Wonders, the sultan’s palace, and other such locations found in the film stretched across ten levels.

The graphics look the same as they did back then, but it’s really a testament to how great they looked at the time. They still hold up very well on the Switch. My only complaint is that the screen is nothing but a small square set in the middle of a large and garish border. It makes it tough to see what’s going on, especially when playing in handheld mode where the screen is already small to begin with.

Disney Classic Games

Following the circle of life, now the next generation can rage quit these games.

The gameplay in both games is, for the most part, your standard platformer fare. Aladdin utilizes some fighting mechanics, with Aladdin wielding a scimitar and throwing apples for a long range attack against enemies. The rest of the game relies on jumping from platform to platform, climbing ropes, and navigating the magic carpet. The platforming is about as challenging as you would expect from a game released around that time.

The fighting is where this game falters. The hit detection is very unfair, with Aladdin needing to be almost touching the opponent to actually hit him, while enemies can strike him from quite a ways away. So not only does Aladdin get hit quite often when trying to make his way across platforms with various dangers on them, but he also sustains damage anytime he runs into an enemy. Since he has to get in close for his strikes to register, this happens frequently.

Disney Classic Games

I wish Abu could fight all the bad guys for me.

The Lion King I still find to be a little easier than Aladdin, but only marginally. The Lion King is almost entirely a platformer, with Simba’s only other move aside from jumping being roaring at enemies to either stun or decimate them. Yes, the platforming here is often times frustrating, but I have to hand it them for at least giving many of the levels in The Lion King a different feel.

There are classic platforming sections where Simba will leap from rocks to tree branches, but there’s also varied levels designs here as well. For example, there is a level where you have to jump from the back of one wildebeest to another while they stampede. Then there’s another infuriating level in which you have to make your way through numerous animals that interact with Simba in different ways while “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” plays in the background. Many of the stages feel unique, but almost all of them are tough.

Disney Classic Games

These monkeys fling Simba like they’re circus performers.

After playing Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King, I can definitely say that they don’t makes games like they use to. Each game is very short, relatively speaking, but with taking in to account how many times you’ll die and have to start over, it feels a lot longer. It’s a fun nostalgic trip down memory lane for those of us who grew up with these games and for the asking price of $30, it might be worth your time. If you’re thinking of buying it your kids who enjoy the movies, don’t be surprised if it’s too difficult for them and have them lose interest quickly. Games were a lot tougher and unforgiving back then. I think I only beat them because of having a lack of other options in which to devote my free time back then.

 

Graphics: 8.0

The graphics are the same as when they were released over twenty-five years ago, but still hold up. I wish so much of the screen wasn’t taken up by a large ostentatious border.

Gameplay: 6.0

The fighting mechanics are uneven and unfair and the platforming is as traditionally frustrating as most other games from that time. There are some nice diversities in level designs, especially in The Lion King.

Sound: 9.0

There are a couple sound bites taken from the movies and placed in the games. The classic soundtracks from the games are presented in chiptune form.

Fun Factor: 7.0

While I did enjoy my time with this collection, I wonder if much of my appreciation was from nostalgia. I forgot how difficult these games were and how aggravating the controls could be at times.

Final Verdict: 7.0

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion KingĀ is available now on PS4, Xbox One, PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King was provided by the publisher.

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