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Gamer Tuesday

November 29, 2011

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Disney's Pocahontas

Developed by: Funcom

System: Sega Genesis

Disney's Pocahontas is seen as a bit of an odd duck in Disney's line of prestigious films. Released in 1995, the film would herald the beginning of the so-called 'silver age,' films that were still financially and critically successful, but not as popular as the films that preceded them. Not only that, even if the film was praised for its lush animation and epic soundtrack, the story took many liberties when presenting the legend of Pocahontas. Even with historians protesting the historical inaccuracies of the movie, that hasn't stopped Disney from promoting the film in various ways. Pocahontas is now part of the famous Disney Princess lineup, and even a direct-to-video sequel was released years later. A year after the film's premiere, and just as it was approaching a home video release, Disney's Pocahontas was released for the Sega Genesis, a gentle game that loyally follows the beauty of the feature film.

Disney's Pocahontas stays true to the plot of the film. When the game starts, the dark presence of the English invaders is looming over Pocahontas's home. From there, Pocahontas will meet, befriend, and eventually fall in love with John Smith and fight for peace among the native Americans and the English settlers. It is not the most combat heavy game out there, but the film isn't an action packed epic either, so the game was designed to fit its gentle ideals.

While being a 2D platformer like many of its kin, Pocahontas deviates from the norm by being more about exploration than combat or energetic adventure. After all, Pocahontas is all about peace and interacting with nature. The levels are large in scale. In order to explore them, Pocahontas can climb on trees and rocks as well as swim through rivers. One of the film's themes is mankind's connection to nature, symbolized in the song 'Colors of the Wind.' The game actually takes note of that and has created an interesting mechanic around it. Pocahontas is able to obtain the spirit of an animal and make it part of her own spirit. This means that she will have their power, such as the frightening presence of a bear and the speed of a deer. In total, there are nine powers to obtain and use throughout the adventure.

Due to how unique this game was, it unfortunately received mixed reviews. One of the most perceived problems with the game was that it was its pace was too slow. This was at a time when games such as Disney's Aladdin and The Lion King were popular among gamers and known for their high octane action sequences. By the time Disney's Pocahontas was released, the game was judged against the standards previous games had set. But much like the feature film, the game did receive a small following, and many of its assets were heavily praised.

The game's graphics are just as lush as the animation in the film. Once more, we are treated to hand drawn animated sprites. The sprites are not as large and detailed as in the Genesis version of Disney's Aladdin, they animate very well and convey the story's high emotions in a subtle yet effective manner. The backgrounds seen in the levels are very simple in their execution, but are very pleasing to the eye. The developers behind this game paid close attention to the film's art style and have succeeded in nearly every way. The wonderful music has also been preserved in this game. The 16-bit rendition of 'Colors of the wind' plays throughout the game. Other interpretations, such as the opening theme song and more are present to give the game an authentic Disney feel.

Regardless of how the film that inspired it was received, Disney's Pocahontas for the Genesis is a solid effort in turning a movie many believed would be hard to adapt into an interactive video game, but Funcom passed the test with flying colors. You don't have to hear a wolf cry to the blue corn moon in order to see the beauty that lies within this video game.


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