When Disney cancelled its line of Disney Infinity games and confirmed it wasn’t really doing the game publisher thing anymore, it had me concerned. After all, while it may not have as big a legacy as, say, Activision, it did team up with many developers to create some memorable games. So, imagine my surprise when Nighthawk Interactive teamed up with Disney to re-release some of its classic 16-bit games with Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King. This literally came out of left field via a leak, and now the games are here again in all their glory.
Well, not all the games. The SNES version of Disney’s Aladdin by Capcom is conspicuously missing; and there’s no sign of the memorable Game Gear version either. But for the most part, all the versions of The Lion King are included; and the Genesis version of Aladdin is completely intact. Not a complete collection, but a stacked one all the same.
Let’s start with what will obviously be a talking point for the collection — Lion King. That’s because, despite being themed as a kids’ game, it’s brutal. Some of the levels are just tough to get through, built with a structure that will challenge even the toughest player. Even with some aids turned on here (graciously provided as an option for the youngins), you’ll still be baffled as to why this game is so hard.
That said, it is wonderfully designed, with great visuals and music that match the original animated film, as well as some memorable sequences, like the bug-catching mini-game with Timon and Puumba. But, yeah, there’s a question about balance here that’s still needing answered with this decade, as players rediscover this game and then wonder why they gave Bloodborne such a hard time. Yep, Lion King is a toughie.
Still, I admire all the versions available here, including the Game Boy one, in case you wanted to play in black and white. While the SNES and Genesis versions are nearly identical, it’s nice to have different options available, in case you have a preference.
The highlight for me, though, is Aladdin. Created by Disney in conjunction with David Perry of Earthworm Jim fame, with some support from music maestro Tommy Tallarico, it recreates some of the magic from the film, with actual animation provided by Disney. While it doesn’t have the greatest level design in the world, it’s a well put together game with a great deal of challenge in itself. Not as tough as Lion King, mind you, but still up there.
The different filtering options available here are very good, allowing you to play any of these games however you see fit. But perhaps the real value here is with the behind-the-scenes extras. The team at Digital Eclipse, who know a thing or two about treating classic games with respect, have poured on an abundance of goodies that take a closer look at the creation of these two favorites. It serves as a fun history lesson on top of the games that you already have access to. More classic collections should do this.
I can’t say that Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is an absolute must have, mainly because of what’s missing and the heinously ridiculous difficulty that remains in place. But if you’re a fan of old-school games or even have a penchant of checking out important titles in gaming history, it does come recommended.
Digital Eclipse have treated these games with great care, and provided enough options to make it worth diving into. Just…make sure you’re ready for The Lion King before you take this journey. Because it will challenge you, in more ways than one.