Game Of The Month: November 2015
Aladdin - Sega Genesis / Megadrive / Super Nintendo & GBA
It can be very hard to choose between two things, someone to love, a car to buy and even which job to take however in our mind something else also factors into this category… Which videogame based on the 1992 Disney hit film ‘Aladdin’ is the best?
Unique in the history of the industry the game in question this month, like many other big name film to game titles, actually produced multiple versions on a whole slew of home consoles and computers. For the 16-Bit systems of the Sega Megadrive/Genesis and the Super Nintendo, in the space of one month however, two entirely different looking and playing games from the same genre (platformer) were released.
It’s almost unheard of for such things to happen however due to complicated and one off licensing agreements gamers of the Golden Era were treated to not just one superb game but two and no matter what side of the fence you were on in the console war you would get to take home the power of the Genie regardless of what console sat under your TV. Ladies & gents, boys and girls and all the people in the cheap seats for the month of November 2015 RGG selects the one game with two versions from one of the greatest movies of all time staring the one and only Robin Williams. Aladdin!
Sega who had obtained a license to produce games from the Disney franchise and who had already delivered a string of great titles staring famous characters like Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck set to work on creating the ultimate movie to game experience. The dream team of ‘Virgin Games’ led by the absolute master of the 16-Bit era ‘David Perry’ who also had games such as Mick & Mac Global Gladiators, Cool Spot and of course the legendary Earthworm Jim series appear on his C.V. over time actually partnered up with Disney themselves.
With David’s expertise at creating tight control systems and superbly paced game difficulty levels everything about the core mechanic of the title was pretty much spot on. Disney however brought the real star of the show to the table with traditional animation for the graphics themselves. Fluid animation and incredible background graphics makes Aladdin on the Sega system an absolute treat for the eye. With Virgin supervising the process the entire way through the final product was an absolute masterpiece in every single possible respect and is widely regarded as one of the best games not just of the genre or the system but of the entire 16-Bit Golden Era.
Based on the events of the film itself with poetic license to extend things and move sequences around it was as close as you could get to being a part of the Disney magic than could have ever been done. Even on much more powerful game systems such as the PS1 with it’s 3D graphics and CD sound the Megadrive version stands supreme as easily the best game to ever bear the famous logo. Some critics cite the difficulty aspect as a negative and that is to a certain extent true, however at the time gamers were used to having to learn enemy patters and muscle memory was a must so in our opinion those who would turn their noses up at this are most probably unable to handle the old ways rather than look at it all objectively.
Selling like free cakes the Sega version of Aladdin was on everyone’s Christmas purchase list and ended up in the home of most gamers with a black box connected to their television. It also reviewed massively getting scores of 90% and higher across the board and even magazines awarded it the best game of the year in 1993.
A perfect fusion of masters of animation and a true master of game design it is the very benchmark of platformers from the time, of course Sonic and Mario would differ and rightly so but if you were looking for another game to stand on the podium, you just found it.
Across the road at Nintendo developers Capcom who themselves were masters of the 16-bit generation had put together their own version of the game of the Disney Movie. With a completely different approach sharing the same plat former genre an equally stunning and fun game was produced that would go on sale the same month causing all sorts of fun and games at both retail level and one day cause a brilliant argument in playgrounds around the world. Which game was better?
Capcom’s Nintendo version certainly looked the part with absolutely gorgeous backgrounds making the full use of the superior Super Nintendo’s colour palette. Looking very much like the other games Capcom gave us such as ‘Mickey’s Adventure’ and even to a certain extent ‘Goof Troop’ fans of animation were rightly blown away with a game that exploded from the screen. Going down the sprite based path rather than animation of the characters the differences between the two games are obvious in that the Sega version feels and looks very much like a cartoon however the Snes version looks and feels like a game. It’s hard to convey this in words hence why there’s a video of each game attached at the bottom of this article but each version feels familiar yet are worlds apart.
The other major difference outside of the graphics is in exactly how Aladdin behaves. In the Megadrive/Genesis version he uses a sword as primary weapon of choice, the Super Nintendo version however fits more in line with Nintendo’s stance on violence at the time and in this version our hero uses the tried and tested jump on enemies move and also the throwing of apples at them. Now this may sound a bit rubbish however it works a treat and is also based on how Aladdin does things in the movie itself at times. Other aspects of difference occur in the use of ‘Abu’ who is Aladdin’s monkey from the film and also how boss battles are presented and executed.
Critics of this version point to a horrible bonus round game that doesn’t fit the overall title at all well and how a lack of actual animation somehow makes this feel inferior to Sega’s offering. We like to see this as part of the charm of it all however and the fact they are both so very different yet strangely similar is just another reason why this period of gaming was just so magical. Without games like Aladdin those arguments between friends at school would have been very boring, it sounds childish and silly but the whole ’Megadrive V Snes’ mine’s better conflict is the major factor why we have a Golden Era. Nintendo and Sega themselves did this however rather than using playgrounds they used TV and magazines and in your face advertising to do the same, it was fantastic!
The Super Nintendo Capcom version would also be converted over to the GBA in 2004 however for many it’s the worst of the Snes to GBA ports and was widely ignored at retail after getting very average to poor review scores and is the only real downer of the whole entire story. Regardless of which of the 16-Bit versions you try and no matter what box of wonder you play on grabbing Aladdin will ultimately give you nothing but fun and laughter. It’s a superb two take snapshot of a time long since gone, a time of innocence mixed with artistic risk and splendor. They don’t make them like this anymore as the saying goes, once upon a time they made them so nice it had to be done twice!