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Gamer Tuesday

September 20, 2011

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Disney's The Lion King

System: SNES, NES (Europe), Genesis, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Master System (Europe), Game Gear and Amiga
Developed by: Virgin Interactive, Westwood Studios

It's the ciiiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiiiiiife! And it moves us aaaaaaaalllll!

Those lyrics inspired and enthralled movie goers back in 1994 when "The Lion King" was first released. The film gained endless praise for its masterful soundtrack, enchanting characters, and engaging drama. Soon, it became one of the most successful animated movies of all time. This week the film will premiere once more, this time in Disney Digital 3D.

You know the rule by now. If a film is popular, a video game adaptation is sure to follow. The Lion King video game adaptation was released on December 8, 1994, just in time for the Holidays. Much like Disney's Aladdin before it, it is a platforming adventure game that follows the events of the film from start to finish, taking players into the African deserts and jungles and facing off against many villains. Players take control of Simba, from when he is a young cub until he is an adult lion getting ready to take back his land. His abilities include a roar that stuns enemies, a slash attack, and a throw move that grabs an enemy and launches them. Players can also take control of Timon the meerkat in special bonus levels where he collects bugs.

The game follows the plot of the movie very well. Each level is based on an important event in the film, such as the Pridelands early in the morning, run through a wild and colorful animal parade inspired by 'I just can't wait to be king,' and even escape the wildebeests as they stampede through the canyon in a gripping 3D scene.

By now the technical prowess of video games was very advanced, giving game designers to develop games with an impressive visual and audio presentation. The Lion King was leaps and bounds from previous Disney video game adaptations, mimicking very well the film's stunning music and animation. Walt Disney Feature Animation even lent their talents to the production of this game! They animated the character sprites, giving the game a look that resembles an interactive animated film. This graphical technique was first seen on the Genesis version of Disney's Aladdin and Mickey Mania, but was nearly perfected in The Lion King.

The musical legacy of the film has also been preserved in the creation of this game. It features nearly every song and musical track first heard in the feature. 'Circle of Life' opens the game as it loads for the first time; 'I can't wait to be king' adorns the colorful level it inspired, 'Hakuna Matata' sees Simba into adulthood just like in the movie and even the song that players when Simba is fighting Scar can be heard during the game's finale. Each version of the game varies in sound quality, but they all shine thanks to the magic and powerful presence the film's music has.

The Lion King wouldn't be the last game made under the Lion King name, such as Timon and Pumbaa's Jungle Games, a game based on the direct to video movie The Lion King 1 ', and characters from the movies appeared in other Disney themed games like Kingdom Hearts II and the upcoming Disney Universe. But it was this game that first set the standards as to how to do justice to the epic film that put Disney animation on an even higher pedestal and thrilled millions around the world.


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