Disney's Aladdin (Virgin Games video game)
Cover art for the North American version
|Platform(s)||Sega Genesis, Amiga, DOS, Game Boy, Game Boy Color|
|Release||November 11, 1993|
Disney's Aladdin is a platform game based on the 1992 film of the same name developed by Virgin Games and Disney Software. The game was released by Sega for the Sega Genesis on November 11, 1993 as one of several games based on the film, including another game that was released in the same month by Capcom for the Super NES.
Disney's Aladdin is a side-scrolling platform game in which the player controls Aladdin throughout settings and a storyline based on the namesake film. Aladdin can move, crouch, look upward, jump, and climb ropes, clotheslines and other overhead handholds. Aladdin's primary forms of offense against enemy characters are a scimitar for short-range slashing attacks and apples that can be pelted as long-range ammunition. The apples are a finite resource, but can be collected in abundant amounts throughout the game. Aladdin's health is indicated by a trail of smoke emanating from the Genie's lamp on the top-left corner of the screen. The trail shortens whenever Aladdin is harmed by an enemy or environmental hazard. Health can be restored by collecting blue Genie Hearts scattered throughout the levels. If Aladdin runs out of health, a life will be lost. Blue vases within the levels act as checkpoints from which Aladdin will be revived if he had passed one before losing a life. Extra lives can be received by collecting golden icons in the shape of Aladdin's head hidden in the levels. If Aladdin's last life is lost, the game prematurely ends. The amount of lives and apples Aladdin is equipped with at the start of the game is determined by the difficulty setting, which can be adjusted in the main menu. Aside from apples, Aladdin can collect gems, which can be traded with a peddler in each level for extra lives and "wishes". Wishes allow the player to continue the game from the current level after losing their last life instead of having to start again from the beginning. On occasion, "smart bombs" in the form of black lamps can be found and triggered, which will result in the elimination of all on-screen enemies.
If the player collects one or more Genie Tokens and clears a level, the player will be taken to the "Genie's Bonus Machine", a luck-based minigame in which pressing a button rewards the player with a random prize consisting of a gem, five apples or an extra life. The amount of Genie Tokens collected in a level determines the amount of rounds that can be played in the minigame. When the player runs out of Genie Tokens or if they land on a picture of Jafar, the minigame will end. If the player picks up an Abu Token in three levels, a bonus level featuring Aladdin's pet monkey Abu as the player character will initiate following the Genie's Bonus Machine. In these levels, the player must maneuver Abu left and right to collect gems, apples and extra lives that drop to the ground while avoiding pots, rocks, palace guards and other hazards. If Abu comes into contact with a hazard, the bonus level ends.
Development for the game began in January 1993, with a team of ten animators working on the animation frames, making it the first video game to use hand-drawn animation. The work was then shipped to Virgin's California facility to be digitized. The game used traditional animation, which was produced by Disney animators under the supervision of Virgin's animation staff, including animation producer Andy Luckey, technical director Paul Schmiedeke and animation director Mike Dietz, using an in-house "Digicel" process to compress the data onto the cartridge. Virgin was given the deadline of October 1993 to complete production as to coincide with the home video release of the film; this deadline left Virgin with about three-quarters the normal amount of time to build a game. The game features some musical arrangements from the film, along with original pieces composed by Donald Griffin and Tommy Tallarico. The game was showcased at the 1993 Summer Consumer Electronics Show. The budget for the game's launch was $250,000 by Jeffrey Katzenberg.
The Amiga and DOS were based on the Mega Drive/Genesis version, featuring enhanced music and sound effects. The NES received a port as well, which was later adapted into a Game Boy version, which was compatible with the Super Game Boy. A Game Boy Color port was developed by Crawfish Interactive and published by Ubi Soft on November 30, 2000. A Sega CD version of Aladdin was planned but never started official development.
The Genesis, Game Boy, and Super Game Boy versions of the game were included alongside The Lion King as part of Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King, released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows on October 29, 2019. The collection also includes the trade show demo of the Genesis version.
In a "Devs Play" session with Double Fine in 2014, Louis Castle, co-founder of Westwood Studios who later worked on The Lion King, revealed that the studio had pitched a second Aladdin game that would have featured pre-rendered 3D sprites, around the same time as the Amiga game Stardust and a year prior to their use in Donkey Kong Country, but the project was scrapped by Disney.
On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Genesis version of Aladdin a 35 out of 40. The game was awarded Best Genesis Game of 1993 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. They also awarded it Best Animation. The game was reviewed in 1994 in Dragon #211 by Jay & Dee in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Both reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars. Mega placed the game at #12 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.
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