There always seems to be a recurring theme when we revisit games we played as kids – this was definitely easier as a child. But how? Surely we’ve grown up enough now to be able breeze though these games of days past? I remember the infamous remote control helicopter mission from Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. I was 11 at the time and I absolutely nailed it. Revisiting it last year, I was an absolute mess at the game. Mentally – it broke me. Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King takes the crown though. I saw it as a duo of games that take me back to those vivid memories of a child, playing through my favourite Disney movies. Now? An emotionally crushing test of my patience and sanity. Yet I’ve loved every second of it.
The Disney Classic Games collection contains Aladdin and The Lion King in their original glory. Also accompanying them are there handheld counterparts. Choosing which version you wish to play is easy, decided through accessible menus and options. Also included are Japanese versions of both games, as well as an array of other modes such as final cut and demo versions. It’s a whole lot of options and the customisation of how you want to play gives players an array of choice.
Despite their age, each game controls fairly well, with platforming gaining that pitch-perfect balance but combat lacking the same polish. Attacks often feel clunky and hit boxes are punishing. The initial control scheme feels like a rather unusual layout, but a quick detour to the options menu to create your own layout can soon rectify that.
Each game also comes with a couple of varying gameplay levels, to change up from the general platforming moment-to-moment gameplay. Here you may be thrust into a magic carpet ride with Aladdin or forced to outrun a stampede as Simba. They help to break up the repetitive nature and serve to show how even back in the early ‘90s, games had a way to showcase cinematic moments.
Much like their original versions though, these games are extremely tough. Controller breaking and emotionally draining levels of tough. Aladdin fares slightly easier, but The Lion King is a gauntlet of challenging platforming, hard to avoid attacks and an onslaught of enemies.
So it’s extremely welcomed that each game comes with a rewind option. No longer will your heart be crushed as Simba is killed for the 19th time in a row, as now a simple press of a button gains you the ability to start again.
Each game has varying difficulty options which you can customise (though, if you play on the hardest you are a monster), so those who want an easier experience initially can choose to. The level of customisation and options make the Disney Classic Games a must play. Removing the punishing difficulty of the original gives everyone an opportunity to enjoy these lovely renditions of Disney classics at their own pace.
One amazing feature included that can help any players that are struggling is the ability to watch a playthrough of each game. You may be thinking, how does this benefit me? Well, not only can you watch to see how those challenging moments are dealt with, but you can pick up and play at any moment. It gives you the satisfaction of enjoying the whole adventure and choosing which moments you’d like to play.
What does hold this back however is the lack of ability to swap between the two. Once you’ve changed from the watch mode into play mode, there’s no going back. This means that if you get stuck further on and want to do it again, returning to the menu to find watch mode is required. While the feature is definitely welcomed, it’s full potential feels underutilised. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Aside from just being able to replay the games, there’s a host of other options for you to enjoy. Each game comes with documentaries into how each was conceived, game art from the original designs and even movie art, for those who want to learn more about the animated features. Also included are the soundtracks to both games, which feature the 16-bit renditions of their movie soundtracks as well as custom made music for each game. It’s a wonderful display of bonus features that really sets the collection apart from the rest. Anyone who’s a fan of the games or even the films will find something worth the time while browsing this museum of treats.
The games have captured the same incredible sprite work that was crafted across the originals. Even in 2019, both still embody the look and feel of each film. Classic locations such as Agrabah and Pride Rock have been painstakingly handcrafted alongside the hand-drawn characters in each world. Both Aladdin and Simba have a varying amount of animations that are still impressive to this day, so remembering that these are representations of the original early 1990’s sprites is amazing. With the choice of handheld modes too, the option is there to even experience their ported versions, which still displays the same beauty of the console counterparts.
It’s clear that the Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King collection on Xbox One has been made with love. Despite their punishing difficulty, these are two games that have the power to warp us into our favourite Disney worlds and relive classic moments. There are a couple of stumbles along the way with the underdeveloped watch mode, and they still remain as hard as they ever were, but there are a variety of options to cater for all forms of play style. Whether this is a trip down memory lane or a whole new world for you, there’s something for everyone in this wonderful little package.