In November 1993, Disney Games and Virgin Games USA co-developed Disney’s Aladdin for the Sega Genesis. The game was a runaway success, garnering raving scores and love from fans of both the Disney property and the Genesis. Disney’s Aladdin is actually the third-highest selling game on the Genesis, beat out only by Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel. That’s quite the feat, especially for a licensed game.
It should come as no surprise then that, in this day of retro nostalgia in gaming, the Aladdin is enjoying a resurgence of sorts. With its crisp, gorgeous graphics and fluid gameplay, it’s becoming a classic all over again. But one group of coders over at Game History thinks Aladdin could have been better.
The folks at Game History found the complete source code for the game – the foundation for the game’s programming – in their own collection, The Video Game History Foundation. Using the code, contributor Rich Whitehouse was able to rebuild the game for the sake of preservation. Going through the code, Whitehouse found several assets and gameplay features that were cut from the final game, but still remained in the game’s files. He decided to reemploy many of these cut features, essentially creating an all new game.
The list of what Whitehouse restored is extensive. Among his finds was the original design document - a roadmap developers create early in development detailing their vision. With this document, Whitehouse set about creating what he thought was the developers original, uncompromised version of the game. He was able to restore bonus rounds, new enemies like a sword swallower and golden monkeys, and even new music thanks to the help of Aladdin’s original composer, Tommy Tallarico, among other changes.
It’s hard to say why any of these features were cut in the first place. Maybe the developers believed some of these features didn’t make the game feel good to play, or they couldn’t finish implementing them in time. Some will wonder why Whitehouse felt the need to change the original game at all, considering its all-time great status. These changes come from the original developers of the game, they’re not some fan made changes that completely break the game. Whether or not any of these additions makes the game better or worse is up for debate, but from a historical perspective, it’s fascinating to see the game we could have got.
Of course, none of this matters as the Super Nintendo version of Aladdin is superior. That’s the version I played when I was a kid anyway, so it must be the best. Despite sharing the same name and a similar release date, the two games are very different. The Genesis version does have better animations and art, but the SNES version has the more interesting gameplay. That’s the version that could do with having cut content restored. Get on it, Game History.