Saturday, 5 September 2015

SNES game review 90: Aladdin, and a comparison against its megadrive/Genesis counterpart.

In the days of the SNES and Megadrive you would get cases where a game was released to both systems sometimes with very little difference maybe a tweak here or a tweak there to take advantage of the hardware but occasionally you would get two totally different games with the same name.

I know I only just talked about a Disney release but I couldn’t help myself but talk about this game. I guess in part it was because in doing so I would get the chance to talk a little bit about the Megadrive. Growing up I was one of very few kids who managed to have both a Megadrive and a SNES in a lot of cases people would make a decision between the two and would then live with that choice. Sometimes this would involve swearing that the other machine was utter garbage and that you wouldn’t want anything on that other 16bit piece of trash if somebody paid you to have it. Sometimes however it would just be a simple case of the persons parents didn't think that there child needed two different consoles and just were not willing to listen to the reasons why there kid had asked for a Megadrive one Christmas and then a SNES the next.

The rough split between the machines between my friends was an even fifty fifty split. I however considered myself the lucky one. One Christmas I got a Megadrive after having asked for it and then when the next Christmas drew near my mum sat me down and asked me what I wanted I told her if it wasn’t too much I would like a Super Nintendo. Sure my mother stopped me and asked me why, but she didn’t judge me or refuse to listen she sat there and listened to my explanation. I told her that although the systems were very similar and offered the same sort of power and experience they both had games which were exclusive to that system because of who made them and that unlike my friends who swore blind loyalty to one machine I wanted to be free to get the games I wanted for both machines even if it meant I got less overall.  It was this simple fact of owning both machines that ended up making me sort of the go to guy amongst my group of friends for video game recommendations and argument solving, if it wasn’t for this I don’t think I would be writing video game reviews now.

So when Aladdin was due out there was a choice to be made go for the Megadrive or Super Ninteno version. Usually if a game was multi-platform the easy decision would be to go for the SNES version as I doubt few people would argue with the fact that usually in these cases nine out of ten times the SNES would have slightly better graphics and much cleaner music. The games I enjoyed my megadrive for tended not to be multi-platform titles but were instead games which never saw the light of day on the super Nintendo such as Alien storm, cyborg Justice Road Rash etcetera. Here there was a kind of rare case of same name different game (It did happen from time to time Shadowrun being another example).

Ok so the Megadrive version was a Disney software, Virgin Games co-production and in fact when you look a little closer and read around a bit you’ll find that some of the names that worked on this game are people who would go on to form Shiny Entertainment (Including David Perry)  and bring us the hero known as Earthworm Jim, who was a real funky guy/worm. If you have played the MegaDrive Aladdin and Earth worm Jim games you will definitely see a connection in there style now it has been pointed out to you.

The main gameplay though is what you would expect from a 2D platformer, you jump and climb your way through levels and fight with either your sword or by throwing apples you have collected as a long range form of attack. It’s simple, but fun. This could get boring quiet quickly if not for the fact that the game is an absolute festival of colour with little in jokes hidden, the level design is also great. The game is well polished, the beauty of it is really in the little details here and there one example being if you put the pad down and leave Aladdin to it he will role and an apple along his arm and flipping it up much like he did at one point in the film. So that’s an obvious question for a game based on a movie how close does this game stay to its source material? Close enough would be my simple answer. It doesn’t follow the film action for action, it does however follow the basic plot but what it does do is flesh it out with extra bits which work well for the game. Aladdin might add levels that aren’t directly based on what happened in the movie but it’s easy to see why and in all honesty they are fun and don’t hurt the story, one such example being a level based on the insides of the lamp. I also can’t help but add that there are lots of great megadrive versions of various songs from the film and these really help set the mood, in fact I found myself humming some of them again and again, this left me wanting to watch the film again and in my opinion served as the perfect companion piece. If I was in the process of trying to review 150 megadrive games I would most likely give Aladdin a score of around 8 out of 10 but that’s not what I am doing here at all, I am talking about it in comparison to the Super Nintendo version. Back when these games were released the general opinion from experts who viewed things with as little bias as possible seemed to be that the Megadrive version was the superior one, but is this really true?

So the SNES version of Aladdin is also a 2d  platformer this game however was developed by Capcom and just like with the Megadrive version there was a particularly famous person involved in its creation in this case it is the games designer Shinji Mikami. Yes Resident Evil Shinji Mikami. Both of the games came out in 1993, in the same month in fact.

Aladdin on the SNES is a pretty traditional platformer as far as things go. You can run, duck, jump and once again you can throw apples but one thing this game is lacking is a sword, which seems to have lost it instant cool points when it comes to a lot of peoples opinions. In truth I don’t have an issue with the lack of a sword after all Aladdin really didn’t use one that much in the film did he, after all his introductory song in the movie was basically about being fast and avoiding things ‘’One jump ahead of the hitman’’ and all of that.  The apples you throw stun enemies and you can actually get rid of them in the old familiar platformer way, trying to push their head into their neck with your feet from a vertical position (Jumping on them).

The lack of a sword here and the characters the agility gives it a different feeling to its megadrive counterpart. As Aladdin you can bounce off certain objects and enemies in order to reach places you otherwise wouldn't get to. For me this game feels at its best when you keep up a quick tempo of going from jump to jump moving constantly forwards, it kind of makes you think of some of the scenes in Aladdin and in this way matches there pace.
The graphics are good but I don’t think the animation is equal to its megadrive counter part, but still it’s a nice bright good looking game. It is far too easy and to short though, you will have finished this game and seen all it has to show you while your megadrive playing counterpart is still ploughing there way through there version.

Even though the Snes version of Aladdin has its good points I just feel that the MegaDrive one is a better game, mostly because of the length and not the sword (who really thinks a game is better just for being able to stab people?). Thankfully though we don’t live in an either world where you have to choose one or the other. Fanboy logic is stupid at the end of the day all systems and all games have their strengths and weaknesses and if you limit yourself from sampling more things because they are on a certain machine or were made by a certain company then ultimately all you are going to do is hurt yourself. I give SNES Aladdin a happy 7 out of 10, it fails to get more mostly because it has a lack of lasting power, it however kicks the heck out of the other Disney games I have reviewed in the recent past Pinocchio and beauty and the beast.

If you want to sample this game then due to the license surrounding it you’re going to have to go for a Cart really, most of the ones I have seen for sale have gone for around £12 to £15 with boxed copies fetching a little more. A boxed copy of the MegaDrive version will set you back £10 to £15 roughly, in all honesty if you have both machines I would start there but if you can afford both or see both going cheap then you can’t really go wrong with either of them they are both darn fine games… On a side note this really makes me think once more that I wish Nintendo had adopted Sega style plastic games cases it would make the collectors life much easier.

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