Every moment is red letter when you play this magical Super NES game!
I love Disney. I love Disney animated films even more, which is why when I was a kid, I loved it when video game adaptations of some of my favorite Disney movies were released. Unfortunately, many of them ranged from mediocre to completely awful, to the point where they made me cry out of disappointment and frustration.
But there was one company that, for a while, proved that this didn’t have to be the rule or even the exception. That company was Capcom. Now known for Mega Man and Resident Evil, back in the day, they teamed up with Disney to create not only some of the best Disney games, but some of the best games overall. One of them is a favorite from the Super NES era: Disney’s Aladdin.
Aladdin is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies. The mix of timeless storytelling along with contemporary humor and magical romanticism quickly made it a movie I would always watch, and yes, even sing along to. The Super NES game was one I loved as a kid for many reasons.
Gameplay wise, Aladdin is a platforming game where you take control of Aladdin as you play through some of the major events of the feature film. Aladdin himself is a very athletic fellow. He can jump and swing on ropes and vines, use a piece of cloth as a parachute and even use apples against his opponents. In between levels, a password is given so if you are defeated you can return to the last level. In addition, there is a bonus round in which Genie grants you new items and even additional lives.
Now, I am well aware that a Genesis game based on the movie was released at the same time as the Super NES, and many consider that one to be the superior game. I won’t argue about its value, and I will agree that it has better animation, but for my money, the Super NES version better captured the look, feel and magic of the animated film. This and the accessible gameplay is why this video game adaptation of the movie is more significant to me.
Without fully turning this into a comparison of the two games, the technical prowess of the Super NES allowed it to feature an aesthetic that closely resembles the visual palette of the film. The character sprites are not as big and animated as in the Genesis version, but the Super NES nails the colors, and thus, as a young gamer, I quickly recognized it as being the most loyal.
It is the gameplay, however, that puts the game at the top. The Genesis version was good, I won’t deny that, but the level of challenge was too high for me as a kid. Yes, I wasn’t the best gamer. The Super NES version had a better difficulty balance. For some, it was too easy, too family and child oriented. It didn’t matter to me back in the day, and it doesn’t matter now. I mainly liked to play game and beat them, not be the best at it. The Capcom version of Aladdin allowed me to just that. I relived the movie’s story and by the end of it all, I could tell my mom and dad that I beat it all by myself.
Plus, there is one level that puts it above the Genesis version: the magic carpet ride with Princess Jasmine. The level was just a bonus level where you collect as many gems as possible. But it perfectly captures the romance and beauty of the scene in the movie. “A Whole New World” and the scene it accompanies is one of my favorite movie moments ever. Once again, the technological power of the Super NES allowed it to look, sound and even feel like that scene.
The game was re-released in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance in honor of the Platinum DVD release of the feature film. While the gameplay remained intact, a lot of the songs were cut from this version, likely having to do with a licensing issue with Disney. This breaks my heart, as the songs from the movie added a lot of magic to the game.
In terms of emotional value, Disney’s Aladdin ranks very high as one of my favorite licensed games. Though there are better games out there, and even better licensed games, Capcom truly did something great with this Super NES game.