Disney Classic Games is a perfectly preserved opportunity for anyone looking to explore the video game movie tie-in culture of the 1990s.
The early 1990s were a high point in movie tie-in video game culture, and the Disney Classic Games: Aladdin & The Lion King collection both preserves and enhances the titles included by not only offering ports of the original games but reveals the history behind making them as well. Although certain aspects of both game's mechanics haven't aged as well as some of the other early Super Nintendo and Sega titles, the extra features included in this collection make it a worthy purchase for anyone with young children or players who just want to revel in the nostalgia of their youth.
The Disney Classic Games: Aladdin & The Lion King collection isn't just the two games mentioned in its title, but multiple versions of those games as well. The Lion King's half of the collection offers players the choice of playing the game's Super Nintendo, Sega, Japanese, Gameboy, and Gameboy Color versions, and Aladdin's half offers nearly all the same options minus the Super Nintendo. Making up for this loss, however, is an additional, revamped version of the game's Sega offering called here the Final Cut, which offers bug fixes and other small features not included in the original.
These Disney Classic Games were made during a time where both Disney and game console companies were arguing about the legalities of video game rentals with the American government, and as such some of them contain levels specifically designed to either be so hard or so random players could not possibly finish them during a normal three day game rental period. Older players familiar with the magic carpet escape level in the SNES version of Aladdin remember these problems well, but since annoyances such as these would probably be lost on today's gaming public, the Aladdin & Lion King collection includes an interesting workaround.
Instead of re-coding or revamping the levels to make them less irritating, the Disney Classic Games collection includes a "Watch" feature for The Lion King SNES and all three Sega versions of Aladdin, a program which allows players to simply watch a playthrough of the game on screen. Much like one of the touted upcoming features of the Google Stadia, players can pause the gameplay video at any point and immediately switch from watching to playing, picking the game up immediately from where the video was paused. This allows players to both see what they are supposed to do and outright skip sections of the game they don't feel like bothering with, or at least trying for the thirteenth time in a row. While the addition of such a feature is basically an admission that gameplay can be so frustrating at times it's better to just skip it, on the whole the product is better off with the inclusion, as allowing players to jump around and experience different sections of the games at their leisure makes these older titles more fun than once again forcing players to rely on the randomness of monkey throws.
Another inclusion which makes Disney Classic Games: Aladdin & The Lion King feel like a worthy purchase is the "Museum" section, which consists of a series of behind the scenes videos, concept art, and other features describing the making of both games. Both title franchises have their own separate museums, with the total video time adding up to almost a full hour of extra content. Also included in the museum are actual style guides from the Disney animation team, something which character artists and Disney fans alike should be very interested in. Each franchise also has its own Soundtrack menu, where players can simply listen to all the different console and handheld versions of their favorite animated movie's songs.
While Aladdin's Sega versions may be too difficult overall for some younger children to enjoy, the simplicity of The Lion King holds up surprisingly well, save for the previously mentioned hair-pullingly frustrating sections. Mechanically, the games play identical to their 1990's counterparts, and while both titles are relatively short the increased difficulty of certain areas ensures there can be hours of gameplay if the player is willing to restart a whole bunch of times. Graphics also remain faithful to the original versions, although the game as a whole mysteriously defaults to displaying the included titles in a small box framed in the center of the screen. Thankfully, a wide variety of display options for Aladdin & The Lion King games are offered, although larger screen users may want to stay away from a widescreen stretch.
Both Aladdin & The Lion King remain exactly as they were when released over twenty years ago, with all their problems and iconic art styles untouched. However, the inclusion of multiple game versions, a handy skip function, and behind the scenes content help to elevate the Disney Classic Collection above any one title featured within. With both games mentioned here having received new, updated film versions just recently, the fact that these games were released in such a showcase-like format gives a nice historical context to the nostalgia it creates. For people who played the games in their youth or fans of either movie wanting to experience 1990's tie-in video game culture, Disney Classic Games: Aladdin & The Lion King is a perfectly preserved assortment of titles.
Disney Classic Games: Aladdin & The Lion King releases October 29, 2019 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. A PS4 code was supplied to Screen Rant for the purposes of this review.