Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King Review

November 4, 2019

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King caters to a very specific audience – if you grew up with a Mega Drive or a Super Nintendo in the 90’s, then this collection has you pegged. Back when game tie-ins to blockbusters movies were regularly churned out (and regularly terrible), both Aladdin and The Lion King stood out as having extra care and attention paid to them by Westwood and Virgin Interactive, with graphics that replicated the cel animation of Disney’s movies that were truly impressive back in the day. No doubt influenced by the fact that both of the original movies have had remakes in the past year, this collection brings the two games together on PS4, Xbox One and Switch, along with a host of extras.

Starting with The Lion King, this collection includes both the Super Nintendo and Sega Mega Drive versions of the game, along with the inferior, but cute in a way, Game Boy version, and the Japanese SNES version. Which version you prefer will depend on your own nostalgia – for my money, the smoother look and sound of the Super Nintendo matches what I remember playing into the wee hours of the night. The game still looks great and evokes the style and colours of the original movie with ease, which was its main attraction back in the day as it took setpieces like ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King’ and ‘Hakuna Matata’ and made them playable. You get to play through most of the major beats of the story, with cute digitised voice tracks from the movie moving the story along along with groovy renditions of the soundtrack – and that all makes for a pretty fun experience, especially for kids.

However, while many played the original game, not many would be able to say made it all the way through to the end. Or even to the adult Simba stages. Or even past the second level. The Lion King was intentionally designed to have brutal, unfair, challenge – especially early on – to ensure kids would be unable to finish the game on a single night’s rental and be compelled to buy it. While the infamous monkey puzzle is definitely guilty of this, there are also pinpoint precision jumps from hippo tails required, erratic jumping hyenas and a seemingly invincible final boss still to contend with to make it all the way through.

However, it’s all made more tolerable with the wide range of ways you can now cheat. For both games, the collection adds a save state system, which only offers one slot (and erased my state on a couple of occasions), but also has the infinitely more helpful rewind function, allowing you to correct small mistakes in jumps very easily. You can also remap the controls to whatever you desire, and you can even watch a video of a perfect playthrough of the game to get some hints, or simply pause and jump into playing the game at that point. If all you want out of this collection is the ability to finally see and play the later levels you were denied in childhood – this could be your moment of catharsis.

In Aladdin, we get the Sega version of the game, which was the favourite of many kids back in the day (if only because it’s the version where Aladdin had a cool sword), and not the Capcom-developed Super Nintendo version. However, also included are a ‘Final Cut’ version, which patches out some outstanding bugs and faulty collision detection on the original, the Japanese version, and an interesting ‘Demo’ version of Aladdin which represents an unfinished version of the game shown at trade shows, with incomplete graphics, levels and cut ideas. Both the Final Cut and Demo versions are actually super interesting, as the Final Cut is definitely the definitive way to play the game, making adjustments that the original developers would have intended with more time, and the Demo version offers a rare playable look at how ideas change can through development, even in the relatively simpler days of the Mega Drive.

As far as how the game itself holds up, Aladdin is still a fine platformer, its beautifully animated graphics doing a lot to keep you moving through some decent level design which encourages exploration in order to gain ‘Genie’ or ‘Abu’ tokens for bonus stages to gain goodies. While Aladdin has his cool sword for close-range attacks, the game’s collectible apples can be thrown as a secondary attack, and are actually incredibly important by the time you get to the final boss. The game itself can be beaten in under an hour if you know what you’re doing – but that’s a big ‘if’ given that there are again some horrendous difficulty spikes that will slow anyone’s progress way down – particularly once you get to the Cave of Wonders and have to deal with precision jumps, rolling boulders, lava and the centrepiece magic carpet escape that requires lightning reflexes. On balance, the game does feel fairer than The Lion King, although abuse of the rewind function will still serve you well.

Both games also come with a pretty hefty collection of behind-the-scenes material, with some of the most interesting being interviews from the original development of The Lion King along with footage from its original announcement, as well as art from the movie, and more up-to-date interviews with the team behind Aladdin reflecting on the game, as well as some of the original cel animation that the game’s sprites were based on. There’s also a standard array of visual options for the two games, with various aspect ratios, filters and borders.

Aladdin and The Lion King are pieces of many people’s childhoods, for both fun and frustrating reasons, but this collection is a nearly perfect representation of the two, with plenty of variations to try, history to learn and helpful cheats to abuse. While the games themselves are short, their presentation in this package is pretty spectacular, and a welcome way to experience them for both old and young audiences.


-Two classic 90's Disney games faithfully reproduced
-Includes a comprehensive collection of materials related to the two games
-Plenty of ways to cheat your way through if you need


-Both games can still be brutally, unfairly challenging
-Missing the Aladdin SNES game by Capcom

Overall Score: