The Lion King (video game)
|The Lion King
|Developer(s)||Westwood Studios, Inc., Virgin Interactive, Dark Technologies|
|Publisher(s)||Virgin Interactive, Sega, Walt Disney Computer Software|
|Composer(s)||Matt Furniss (Genesis)
Patrick Collins (SNES)
|Release date(s)||Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis|
|Distribution||8 megabit cartridge, 16 megabit cartridge, Floppy disk, CD-ROM|
The Lion King is a video game based on Disney's popular animated film. The title was published by Virgin Interactive in 1994, and was released on SNES, NES, Game Boy, PC, Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, Amiga, Master System and Game Gear. The NES and Master System versions of the game were never released in North America. The Lion King was the final game released for the NES in Europe. A PlayStation launch title was going to be released in Japan but was cancelled. The game follows Simba's journey from a young carefree cub to the battle with his evil uncle Scar as an adult.
The game is a side-scrolling platform game, with the controlled character having to leap, climb, run and descend from platform to platform. There is an exception during the level The Stampede, where Simba is running towards (or in the Game Boy version, running with the camera looking straight down on top of him, while the Game Gear version is a side scrolling platformer like the other stages) the camera dodging wildebeest and leaping over rocks.
In most versions of the game two bars appear on the HUD. To the left is the roar meter, which must be fully charged for Simba's roar to be effective. To the right is the health bar which decreases when Simba is hurt. At the bottom left of the screen is a counter showing how many lives Simba has remaining. Bugs of various shapes and sizes can be collected, restoring health or granting bonuses. Rare health-damaging bugs also exist.
The player controls Simba (first as a cub, then later as an adult) in the main levels and either Timon or Pumbaa in the bonus levels.
Cub Simba can roar, jump on enemies and roll. All three are used to combat enemies and have different effects. Rolling can also be used to access hidden areas and dodge attacks.
Adult Simba is stronger, can slash and maul, and he can throw enemies to the side instead of just jumping on them. He also has a more formidable roar, but can no longer roll.
During the course of the game there are two bonus stages. In the first bonus stage, players control Pumbaa, eating bugs dropped by Timon without letting any good ones touch the floor. In the second bonus stage, players control Timon, searching the area for bugs within a time limit. Both will end prematurely if they come into contact with a bad bug (a spider).
Graphics and sound
The Sega Genesis version of the game does not have background vocals unlike the Super Nintendo version, but the Super Nintendo version has less background particles than the Genesis version. This is evident in the Elephant Graveyard and Stampede levels, as well as on the title screen. The MS-DOS version contains background vocals when the game is played with a SoundBlaster sound card. The vocals are missing when the game is using an AdLib sound card due to AdLib's inability to play digital sound.
The Windows 3.1 version relied on the WinG graphics engine, but a series of Compaq Presarios were not tested with WinG, which caused the game to crash while loading. The crashes caused game developers to be suspicious of Windows as a viable platform and instead many stuck with MS-DOS. To prevent further hardware/software compatibility issues, Direct X was created. This also led to the Windows 95 port of Doom to try to regain developers' faith in Windows.
The SNES version of The Lion King sold well, with 1.27 million units sold in the United States alone.
GamePro gave the SNES version a generally negative review, commenting that the game has outstanding graphics and voices but "repetitive, tedious game play that's too daunting for beginning players and too annoying for experienced ones." They particularly noted the imprecise controls and highly uneven difficulty, though they felt the "movie-quality graphics, animations, and sounds" were good enough to make the game worth playing regardless of the game play. They similarly remarked of the Genesis version, "The Lion King looks good and sounds great, but the game play needs a little more fine-tuning ..."
The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the Game Gear version as having graphics equal to the SNES and Genesis versions and control that is vastly improved over those versions. They scored the game a 7.75 out of 10 average. GamePro wrote that the graphics are not as good as those of the SNES and Genesis versions, but agreed that they are exceptional by Game Gear standards, and praised the Game Gear version for having a much more gradual difficulty slope than the earlier versions. Gameplayers wrote in their November 1994 issue that "even on the easy setting, the game is hard for an experienced player".
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