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Gamer Tuesday

January 17, 2011

Pap the Disney Gamer's Highlights Beauty and the Beast Week: Beauty and the Beast: Roar of the Beast and Belle's Quest

Developed by: Sunsoft

System: Sega Genesis

'Tale as old as time. True as it can be. Barely even friends. Then somebody bends. Unexpectedly. Just a little change. Small to say the least. Both a little scared. Neither one prepared. Beauty and the Beast.'

Those that know me well enough know that Disney's Beauty and the Beast is more than just my favorite Disney film. It is one of my all time favorite musicals and films ever. And that is because at the core of the story lie two very unique individuals that really do learn to love each other despite the circumstances they were forced to face. Belle is a very quirky yet endearing individual that is beautiful on both on the outside and the inside, while Beast is a man that has never learned to truly love but holds onto the hope of being redeemed through Belle's compassion. This, alongside the great music and stunning animation, made the film insanely popular in the early 90s. And thus many video game adaptations were made.

You might recall that I wrote about the Beauty and the Beast computer game that I used to play as a kid with my speech therapist. I also mentioned about there being a Beauty and the Beast board party game for the Game Boy Color (which I labeled as one of the weirdest Disney games yet). On today's Gamer Tuesday dedicated to Beauty and the Beast, I shall talk about not one, but two unique games that tried to capitalize on the film's legacy in an interesting manner: Beauty and the Beast: Roar of the Beast and Belle's Quest.


In the video game industry, it is common to see multiple releases of the same game. A very prominent example is Nintendo's Pokemon series, where they release two versions of the same game, encouraging people to pick both of them and maximize their enjoyment of the adventure. But while gameplay wise both versions of the game are identical save for a few changes here and there, Roar of the Beast and Belle's Quest are two different games based on the same gameplay engine. Roar of the Beast (starring the Beast) is more boy-centric as it is based on fighting enemies that have invaded his castle, while Belle's Quest (starring Belle) is a slower game with strong focus on puzzle solving, exploration, and light activities, both based on the events of the film as told through their own perspective.

This is a very peculiar way of presenting the story of Beauty and the Beast. It focuses on each characters' personalities and creates gameplay based around them. Beast is a very, for lack of a better word, beastly character that likes to use brute strength against his enemies (as evidenced in the scene where he saves Belle from a pack of wolves). Belle is a woman that loves to read and thus is more cerebral in her approach towards the challenges presented in both the film and the video game. Not a lot of Disney games are presented like that, making Roar of the Beast and Belle's Quest particular endeavors of Disney film to video game adaptations. At the time of their release, Roar of the Beast and Belle's Quest were both sold separately as well as together in a special family pack.

Unfortunately, the idea of creating two different games based on the two lead characters may have been creative, but they were received with mixed expectations. Gamers have criticized the games for somewhat problematic platforming, very slow pace and glitch ridden gameplay. In the case of Belle's Quest, the strong focus on non-combat based gameplay made it a chore to play for some, while in Roar of the Beast the combat felt weird for many. Many gamers would go as far as to label both games as some of the worst games ever released on the Sega Genesis. So really, the reason I chose this game was to show off how creative game developers would often get when given the chance to work on a high profile Disney franchise.

In terms of presentation, Roar and the Beast and Belle's Quest look quite nice. Both games being early Genesis titles, the presentation doesn't quite offer the same quality seen in later games like Disney's Aladdin and Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse, but it does manage to capture the soft colors and designs of the feature film. The movie's story is represented quite well, using stills from the film as well as turning the big events of the film into playable levels. Music wise, many of the iconic themes, such as 'Beauty and the Beast,' can be heard throughout the gameplay.

On the whole, Roar of the Beast and Belle's Quest are mostly remembered for creating two different games based on the same film. The gameplay in both endeavors received mixed reviews at best, which is unfortunate because it looked like it had a lot of potential. Regardless of the fact, I am celebrating both games today as they are indeed quite memorable in how they took the two lead characters and gave them their own games with strong focus on how their personalities would affect the overall gameplay. Beauty and the Beast is not an easy story to make a game out of, but Sunsoft attempted the challenge and even if they didn't fully succeed they are still remembered vividly. It's a tale as old as time, one would say...


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