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Retrospective: Disney's Aladdin

Back when film licences (and Capcom) were at the top of their game

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As unlikely as it might seem in this era of dreadfully dire movie cash ins, back in the early 90s Disney licenses made for some very good games. In fact once, they made two.

You see, Disney's Aladdin is actually two completely different games, by two entirely different companies, released on two different platforms, and both came out in November 1993.

We'll start with the one that began on Nintendo. Disney's Aladdin (SNES version) was made by Capcom, who'd previously had Disney success with DuckTales. The environments are plucked from the the plot of the movie, from the Agrabah Streets to the Cave of Wonders. Platforming is fluid and fun as Aladdin scrambles, flips and tumbles with an appropriately Prince of Persia-like ease, bouncing off the heads of enemies in true Nintendo fashion.

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Then there was the second Disney's Aladdin. Originally on the Sega Mega Drive (later ported to NES and Gameboy) by Virgin Interactive. As before, the game borrows its plot, locations and art style from the movie, but the two games vary in a thousand different ways. Sega's Aladdin carries a scimitar, which bounces thrown knives back at irate guards. The platforming isn't as clever and well crafted as Capcom's outing, but the Disney assisted 2D animations are utterly stunning.
Bizarrely, both games share some mechanics, such as Aladdin's health-conscious projectile of choice (apples) and both including surreal levels inside Genie's lamp, which was never seen in the film.

The real surprise in both Aladdins is not just that they happened, but that neither is a cheap knock off. Both are great games, and the two paint a fascinating picture of two talented developers approaching the same problem and coming up with two very different solutions.

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