As I’ve stated many times before, Disney is very near and dear to my heart. I’ll basically consume anything made by them and probably defend them a bit more than I should when it comes to their corporate decisions. That being said, it came as a surprise to some of my colleagues that I never played the famous (or rather infamous in some regards) classic games based on Aladdin and The Lion King respectively. Having never owned a console before the PlayStation 2, I just never really had access to them.
Luckily, Disney Interactive and developer Digital Eclipse have decided to port both games over to modern consoles with some new upgrades and features. Unfortunately, while I can tell that a ton of effort was put into the port of Aladdin, The Lion King is still the exact same hard, frustrating experience that came to both the SNES and Sega Genesis so many years ago.
So, what do you get for $29.99? Both games have been upgraded to 1080p, but considering that this is what consoles are performing at nowadays at the very least, I expected that. That said, don’t expect any character models to change; both titles are still the same pixelated games you’re used to from your childhood. Everything does look nice and crisp in comparison to the old versions. It may not seem like it at first, but if you look up a video of the old versions, you can immediately tell a distinct difference.
On top of that, both games come with two incredibly useful features. The first, rewind, allows you to simply rewind gameplay in cases where you make a mistake during your playthrough, which you will…many, many times. This is pretty commonplace in classic game ports nowadays so I expected as much. Still, given how hard both of these games are, it’s awesome that Disney and Digital Eclipse decided to include this incredibly useful feature.
The second of these two gameplay features is the ability to watch a full playthrough of both titles. While this in-and-of-itself is useful to figure out how to make a hard jump or make it past an annoying enemy, it also packs in the ability to pause the playthrough and start playing right where the playthrough stopped. For The Lion King, this is almost literally a godsend. Is it cheating? Yeah, absolutely. Do I feel bad for using it on multiple occasions? Nope and neither should you considering how hard the title is.
On top of that, this bundle also packs in some cool behind the scenes features for both games, which is always appreciated. As expected, these don’t affect gameplay at all and are just to look at for fun. However, I’ll never say no to some behind the scenes art and videos for Disney games. Oh, and you can listen to the soundtrack for both games in the game’s Music Player, meaning you can jam out to 16-bit versions of I Just Can’t Wait to Be King and Be Prepared.
Both Aladdin and The Lion King also include multiple versions. This is where the comparisons between the two ports end. For Aladdin, you can play through the Sega Genesis version of the game, as well as a never-before-released trade show demo that includes content not found in the game, and the brand new Final Cut version of the title. With the Final Cut edition, Digital Eclipse has fixed camera issues and other bugs with Aladdin in order to make a more refined experience. In this version, I didn’t experience anything too different, but I will never complain about fewer bugs. If the bugs are important to your experience, then you still have that version available to you. But generally speaking, I would play the Final Cut version any day over the original.
On The Lion King side of things, you definitely get less. Included is the Sega Genesis version and the SNES edition. Both versions are insanely similar to each other, with only minor differences in sound and graphics. Is it nice to have the option to choose between the two? I suppose, but given the fact that both versions are nearly identical makes the inclusion of both a little confusing.
Aside from the inclusion of The Lion King’s handheld ports and a Japanese version, both of which are also included with Aladdin, that’s all you get. While I think it’s unfair to expect a demo, surely The Lion King has enough problems to warrant a Final Cut version of the game as well. I genuinely don’t see why Aladdin got an updated, Final Cut version, but The Lion King didn’t.
This just makes the whole collection feel a bit lopsided. It feels like Aladdin got a lot of love, while The Lion King got left in the dark. While I’m pretty sure that’s not what happened during development, that’s certainly how it comes off.
Another inherent problem with these ports is that they are just that — ports. If you weren’t a fan of The Lion King and Aladdin before, there’s absolutely nothing here that’s going to change your mind. Now, one might argue that this collection is designed for the fans and feeds off your nostalgia, and it does. But because of that, it’s alienating people, like me, who never played these games. Personally, at $30, I wouldn’t buy this collection. That being said, value is in the eye of the beholder, so if you think you’ll get a ton of fun out of playing these games again for that price, go for it.
All in all, you get exactly what you expect with the Disney Classic Games: The Lion King and Aladdin collection. While Aladdin got some nice upgrades and inclusions with the Final Cut version and the demo, The Lion King feels like it got the short end of the stick. If you adore these games and you think you can get your $30 out of it, by all means, go out and pick up a copy. Otherwise, I’m not sure there’s enough here to warrant a pick up by someone who has no idea what they are getting themselves into.