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Gamer Tuesday

July 30, 2013

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Disney's Aladdin: The Video Game

Developed by: Virgin Interactive

System: Sega Genesis

'Huh, what's that? You say there was ANOTHER Aladdin video game on another system? Why, you are absolutely right! I will talk about that version of Aladdin' sometime in the near future. Stay tuned!' - Pap the Disney Gamer, July 5, 2011

Over two years ago, I made this declaration: that there was indeed another Aladdin based video game released on another system, on the same year as Capcom's Aladdin video game. I think it is time to finally shed some light on this other fabled Aladdin game, and see just how much of an impact it left in the industry. This is Disney's Aladdin: The Video Game for the Sega Genesis.

Aladdin on Sega Genesis

Released in 1993, nearly a year after the release of the Disney feature film, Aladdin: The Video Game is a sidescrolling 2D platformer where you play as Aladdin as the game retells the story of the film through various levels. This means that you will be surviving the streets of Agrabah, exploring the Cave of Wonders, meeting the Genie, and finally doing battle with the notorious Jafar. This description makes the game sound like yet another licensed platformer of the era. But what makes this game unique in the grand scheme of things is its history and the people that created it.

See, in the 80s and 90s, Capcom was known for having the exclusive rights to Disney based games around the world. They would develop games based on Disney's TV shows and movies that were out at the time. That's why in some cases some Disney games would either never get released or feature another license, because some companies had exclusive rights to Disney games in that era. Then came Virgin Interactive and Sega, rival companies of Capcom and Nintendo, respectively. They co-developed an Aladdin game that would rival Capcom's release of their own Aladdin game (which I already covered here on Gamer Tuesday). In order to make the game stand out from that release, Virgin Interactive would implement new ideas and features that made their Aladdin game a memorable one.

Aladdin Video Game

The very first one that gamers took notice of are the graphics. While 2D sprites were common at the time, very few implemented actual hand drawn animation. The sprites in Disney's Aladdin were composed of hand drawn animation (done by actual Disney animators) that would be later digitized and then realized as in-game sprites. This is a process that was dubbed the Digicel process, developed at Virgin Interactive by David Perry, Andy Astor, Andy Luckey and Dr. Stephen Clarke-Willson. This gave the game a very authentic look that emulated the stunning animation of the feature film. Most importantly, with the Sega Genesis being somewhat inferior to the Super Nintendo in the graphics department, this game proved that developers could do great things with the hardware if they put enough talent and creativity into it. The process proved to be so successful that Virgin Interactive would employ it in their other Disney games, such as The Jungle Book, Mickey Mania and many more.

Next, they made the game a challenging one. In comparison to Capcom's Aladdin game, Sega's Aladdin was a far more challenging affair. Not only were the enemies far more challenging to deal with, the levels themselves were more complex in their design. That meant that there would be more room for exploration, but there would also be more dangers lying ahead. The game was so challenging that even Aladdin would be equipped with a sword, which lies as a stark contract to the carpet and apples he used in the Super Nintendo version.

Aladdin Video Game

The development team behind the game has also become legendary in the video game industry. The core development team was composed of members who would later form Shiny Entertainment, best known for creating the Earthworm Jim game series. Some of these people include Mike Dietz and David Perry, game veteran game designer David Bishop and animators Andy Luckey and Ian Freedman. In terms of the music and sound department, five original compositions and five arrangements from the movie were composed by Donald S. Griffin, under the request of Tommy Tallarico, someone that has gained both fame for his music and sound design, as well as infamy for his loud opinions and stances on several areas of the industry.

Aladdin Video Game

Clearly, the Sega Genesis version of Aladdin is a very important game for all the innovations and the talent behind. But now the million dollar question remains: which version is the better one? My honest answer? My loyalty lies with the Super Nintendo version. Yeah, technically the Sega Genesis is the better game, but I think it all depends on what you want in each game. If you want a game that is more accessible to younger players but still remains loyal to the film, the Super Nintendo version is it. If you want more of a challenge as well as a better technical presentation, the Sega Genesis one is best.

The main reason my stance lies with the Super Nintendo version is because it was the version I grew up with. I think the colors are more accurate in the Super Nintendo version as the Genesis version may have better animation, but the colors are dark and muted. In addition, the music, which has more original songs than the Genesis version, does sound better in the Super Nintendo version because the system had stronger sound capabilities. Finally, and this may seem trivial for some, but the Super Nintendo version has one level that makes it special...

A Whole New World...
Aladdin A Whole New World video game

The main reason Aladdin the film ranks so high my list of favorites is because it has a wonderfully magical scene in 'A Whole New World.' The Super Nintendo version includes it as a bonus level, and it always made me happy that I got to play through it.

But this is just me. Truth of the matter is that both games are great, and both have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to their respective gameplay design. Both are also treasures of classic gameplay and some of the best Disney games ever made. Whichever game you choose in the end, you won't be disappointed.


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