The Lion King (video game)

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The Lion King
Publisher(s)Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Director(s)Louis Castle
Producer(s)Louis Castle
Patrick Gilmore
Paul Curasi
Designer(s)Seth Mendelsohn
Programmer(s)Rob Povey
Barry Green
Martin Cook, Mark Rundle (DOS)
Artist(s)John Fiorito
Alex Schaeffer
Christina Vann
Ann-Bettina Colace
Composer(s)Super NES
Frank Klepacki
Dwight Okahara
John Wright
Zack Bremner
Patrick Collins
Matt Furniss
MS-DOS, Amiga
Allister Brimble
Game Boy, NES
Kevin Bateson
Platform(s)Super NES, Genesis, MS-DOS, Amiga, Game Gear, Master System, Game Boy, NES
November 4, 1994
  • Genesis
    Super NES
    Game Gear
    Master System
    Game Boy
    • NA: 1994/1995[b]
    • EU: December 8, 1994
    • EU: May 25, 1995

The Lion King is a platform game based on Disney's 1994 animated film The Lion King. The game was developed by Westwood Studios and published by Virgin Interactive Entertainment for the Super NES and Genesis in 1994, and was ported to MS-DOS, Amiga, Game Gear, Master System, and Nintendo Entertainment System. The Amiga, Master System, and NES versions were only released in the PAL region. It is the final licensed NES game worldwide. The game follows Simba's journey from a young cub to the battle with his uncle Scar as an adult.


The Lion King is a side-scrolling platform game in which players control the protagonist, Simba, through the events of the film, going through both child and adult forms as the game progresses. In the first half of the game, players control Simba as a cub, who primarily defeats enemies by jumping on them. Simba's roar consumes a replenishable meter, and can be used to stun enemies or solve puzzles. In the second half of the game, Simba becomes an adult and gains access to various combat moves such as scratching, mauling, and throws. Simba starts the game with a certain number of lives, depending on the difficulty setting, which are lost if he runs out of health, falls into a bottomless pit, or a lake of water or lava, or is hit by a rolling boulder. Passing through checkpoints throughout the level allow Simba to restart the level from that point when he loses a life. The game ends prematurely when the player loses all of their lives, although they can continue playing from the current level as long as they have continues.

The player can collect various types of bugs. Some bugs restore Simba's health and roar meters, other more rare bugs can increase these meters for the remainder of the game, and black spiders reduce Simba's health. By finding certain bugs hidden in certain levels, the player enters bonus levels as Timon and Pumbaa to earn extra lives and continues. In Pumbaa's stages, he collects falling bugs and items until either one hits the bottom of the screen or he eats a bad bug, and in Timon's stages, he hunts for bugs within a time limit while avoiding spiders.


The sprites and backgrounds were drawn by Disney animators at Walt Disney Feature Animation, and the music was adapted from songs and orchestrations in the film soundtrack. Game designer Louis Castle revealed that two levels, Hakuna Matata and Be Prepared, were adapted from scenes that were scrapped from the final movie.[10] The game's development started in January 1994 and finished in July. Near the end of development, the monkey puzzle in the second level, "Can't Wait to be King", was expanded and made more difficult to meet Disney's playtime criteria to fight game rentals, as time constraints made it impossible to add more levels.[11]

An Amiga 1200 version was developed with assembly language in two months by Dave Semmons, who was willing to take on the conversion if he received the Genesis source code. He had assumed the game to be programmed in 68000 assembly, and the Amiga and Genesis share the same Motorola CPU family, but he found it had been written in C, a language he was unfamiliar with.[12]

Westwood Studios developed the game for SNES, Genesis, and Amiga. Other conversions were outsourced to different studios. East Point Software ported it to MS-DOS, adding enhanced music and sound effects. The Sega Master System and Game Gear versions were developed by Syrox Developments, and the NES and Game Boy versions were developed by Dark Technologies.

The game had a marketing budget of $8 million[13] from a total budget of $20 million.[13]


The SNES, Genesis, and Game Boy versions were included with Aladdin as part of Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King, released for the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, and Xbox One on October 29, 2019. The compilation was later updated as Disney Classic Games Collection: Aladdin, The Lion King, and The Jungle Book, which includes the SNES, Genesis, and Game Boy versions of The Jungle Book and the SNES version of Aladdin. It was released on November 23, 2021.[14]


The Super NES version of The Lion King had 1.27 million copies sold in the United States.[24] More than 200,000 copies of the MS-DOS version were sold.[25] In the United Kingdom, it was the top-selling Sega Master System game in November 1994.[26] In the United States, it was the top-selling Game Gear game in December 1994.[27] In 2002, Westwood's Louis Castle remarked that roughly 4.5 million copies of The Lion King were sold in total.[28]

GamePro reviewed the SNES version, commenting on 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 said the "movie-quality graphics, animations, and sounds" were good enough to make the game worth playing regardless of the gameplay.[29] 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".[30]

The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly praised the Game Gear version as having graphics equal to, and controls vastly improved over, the SNES and Genesis versions.[15] 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 its much more gradual difficulty slope than the earlier versions.[31] The November 1994 issue of Gameplayers says that "even on the easy setting, the game is hard for an experienced player".[citation needed]

Next Generation rated the SNES version four stars out of five, and stated that "even though the game is much harder than Aladdin, it's never unfair or frustrating".[17]

Entertainment Weekly gave the Super NES version an A and the Genesis version a B+ and wrote that "controlling Simba when he's a playful bundle of fur is one thing; putting him through his paces as a full-maned adult is quite another. When the grown-up Simba gives a blood-curdling roar and mauls snarling hyenas, the interaction is so well observed that it's like watching a PBS nature documentary. The sense of power it gives you is exhilarating, and by the time Simba takes his climactic heavyweight stand against his evil uncle Scar, this Lion King has turned into a wild-kingdom variant of Street Fighter II".[21] Super Play gave the Super NES version an overall score of 82/100, praising its graphics and sound as "almost film-like quality" and stating "a very high-quality platformer game with little in the way of innovation".[32]


In 2009, GamesRadar ranked the game seventh on its list of the seven best Disney games, saying "Every intricate level was designed with all the grace and detail of a classic Disney background, plus they managed to make a coherent game that stuck to the plot of the film".[33] In 1996, GamesMaster listed the Mega Drive version 4th in its "The GamesMaster Mega Drive Top 10".[34]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reported in-stores date varies; sources either suggest October 31 or November 1.[4][5] The in-stores date is different from the reported "street" or release date, November 9.[6][7]
  2. ^ Reported release date varies; sources suggest either November 1994[1] or April 1995.[9]


  1. ^ a b c "Game Players Vol 7, #10 pg. 10". Sega Retro. October 1994. Retrieved March 3, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "News". Hull Daily Mail. November 3, 1994. p. 32. Retrieved May 27, 2023. The Lion King this week arrives as a video game release, amidst a flurry of advertising and just a month after the film went on general release. Sega versions surface first, tomorrow, with the SNES cart out a week later on November 11.
  3. ^ "Software List (Released by Soft Licensees)". セガ 製品情報サイト (in Japanese). Sega. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  4. ^ Gelmis, Joseph (November 10, 1994). "You can play along with ' Frankenstein '". Austin American-Statesman. p. 114. Retrieved December 3, 2023. The cartridge games of Disney's The Lion King, from Virgin Interactive, arrived in stores Oct. 31.
  5. ^ Bassave, Roy (November 4, 1994). "Lion King video game looks a lot like the movie". Miami Herald. p. 205. Retrieved December 3, 2023. Roaring into stores on Tuesday: the new video game based on Disney's The Lion King.
  6. ^ "Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse". Miami Herald. October 28, 1994. p. 194. Retrieved December 3, 2023. Also Disney's Lion King game hits the streets Nov. 9.
  7. ^ "Video game of the week". The Times Leader. November 10, 1994. p. 33. Retrieved December 3, 2023. Don't forget Disney's The Lion King game, which hit the street yesterday.
  8. ^ "Software List (Released by Sega)". セガ 製品情報サイト (in Japanese). Sega. Retrieved May 15, 2023.
  9. ^ "Game Boy (original) Games" (PDF). Nintendo. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 15, 2011. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  10. ^ Fahey, Mike (December 23, 2014). "How Westwood Made The Lion King, One Of Gaming's Finest Platformers". Kotaku. Retrieved July 3, 2022.
  11. ^ Hickey Jr., Patrick (June 30, 2022). The Minds Behind Sega Genesis Games: Interviews with Creators and Developers. McFarland & Company. pp. 158–160. ISBN 978-1-4766-4501-8.
  12. ^ "An interview with Dave Semmens". 1989. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Hettrick, Scott (July 3, 1994). "Virgin gambles $20 million on Lion King video game". The Fresno Bee. p. 103. Retrieved March 1, 2022 – via
  14. ^ Stewart, Marcus (September 23, 2021). "The Expanded Disney Classic Games Collection Includes The Jungle Book And SNES Aladdin". Game Informer. Retrieved September 27, 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Review Crew: The Lion King". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 65. Ziff Davis. December 1994. p. 46.
  16. ^ "Viewpoint - Lion King - SNES". GameFan. Vol. 2, no. 11. DieHard Gamers Club. November 1994. p. 33.
  17. ^ a b "Finals". Next Generation. No. 1. Imagine Media. January 1995. pp. 102, 104.
  18. ^ "Now Playing". Nintendo Power. Vol. 68. January 1995. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  19. ^ Constant, Niko (December 1994). "The Lion King". Video Games & Computer Entertainment. No. 71. pp. 96–97. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  20. ^ Yates, Lauren (November 1994). "The Lion King". Electronic Games. pp. 110–111. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  21. ^ a b c "The Lion King". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  22. ^ "The Lion King". Video Games & Computer Entertainment. No. 33. Christmas 1994. pp. 8–9. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  23. ^ Dave; Nick; Nick II; Adrian (December 1994). "The Lion King". Games World. No. 6. p. 21. Retrieved August 22, 2021.
  24. ^ "US Platinum Videogame Chart". The Magic Box. Retrieved August 13, 2005.
  25. ^ Bateman, Selby (April 1995). "Movers & Shakers". Next Generation. No. 4. Imagine Media. p. 27.
  26. ^ "Chart Attack with HMV" (PDF). Computer & Video Games. No. 158. Future plc. January 1995. p. 115.
  27. ^ "EGM's Hot Top Tens" (PDF). Electronic Gaming Monthly. February 1995. p. 42.
  28. ^ Pearce, Celia (December 2002). "The Player with Many Faces". Game Studies. Vol. 2, no. 2. Archived from the original on June 27, 2003.
  29. ^ "ProReview: The Lion King". GamePro. No. 64. IDG. November 1994. pp. 116–117.
  30. ^ "ProReview: The Lion King". GamePro. No. 65. IDG. December 1994. pp. 90–91.
  31. ^ "ProReview: The Lion King". GamePro. No. 65. IDG. December 1994. p. 220.
  32. ^ Leach, James (March 1995). The Lion King Review. Future Publishing. pp. 44–45.
  33. ^ Antista, Chris (September 21, 2009). "The Top 7... Kickass Disney Games". GamesRadar. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  34. ^ "The GamesMaster Mega Drive Top 10" (PDF). GamesMaster. No. 44. July 1996. p. 74.