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Gamer Tuesday

September 6, 2011

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights: Disney's Tarzan
Developed by: Eurocom
System: PlayStation One (1999), Nintendo 64 (2000)

Disney's Tarzan, first released in theaters in the summer of 1999, is one of my all-time favorite Disney animated classics, certainly in the top ten. The animation is simply breathtaking thanks to high quality hand drawn animation and state of the art 3D animation, and the music by Phil Collins is beautiful to say the least. At the time of the film's release, a video game based on the movie was released, and it was one of the best games I played that year.

Originally released for the PlayStation One in 1999, then for the Nintendo 64 in 2000, Disney's Tarzan is a 3D game that plays like a classic platformer such as Disney's Aladdin. Much like in the feature film, Tarzan is a human raised by apes after his parents were shipwrecked, then killed by a leopard. When humans arrive to study the gorillas, he must decide between being the king of the jungle and learning more about his own kind. The levels are based on each of the film's events, such as when Tarzan is learning to become a great ape and surviving the elephant stampede. Of course, tree surfing appears as a major element of gameplay. Eurocom did a fantastic job in presenting the fun and thrill of the movie in a playable setting. It didn't break new ground in terms of game design, but considering that many licensed games of the era were labeled as some of the worst ever made, Disney's Tarzan stood out as one of the most refreshing and fun of the pack.

The compact disc format featured on the PlayStation One allowed games to feature FMVs, or Full Motion Video. Many efforts such as Final Fantasy VII took advantage of this, showing us elaborate cut scenes that wouldn't happen using just the system's own technical capabilities. In the case of Disney and many other licensed games, they used clips from the feature film to advance the storyline. For younger players this was a delight as they would be able to see their favorite clips, even if the film was still in theaters. They weren't of the highest quality, but it brought many players closer to the game's world. Before each level a short scene from the movie is played, establishing the mood and objective of the level. Unfortunately, the Nintendo 64 version dropped the videos due to the limitations of the cartridge format.

The 3D graphics are solid. The characters look like their hand drawn counterparts, and the levels are lush and detailed. It wasn't a graphical breakthrough but it got the job done. The Nintendo 64 version featured cleaner graphics despite the absence of FMVs. Both games, however, feature voice acting for the characters.

Disney's Tarzan, both the film and the video game that inspired it, are kind of underrated in their respective industries. The animated film may not have been a magical fairy tale but it certainly had the elements that made it an unforgettable Disney animated classic. The video game stayed loyal to the legacy of the film without feeling rushed while giving players gameplay that was easy to get into and with plenty of levels to complete. It certainly made me feel like Tarzan, king of the jungle!


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