Told you I’d get to this one at some point.
Considering Disney’s Aladdin was one of the games I played the most on the Sega Genesis, I suppose it was kinda unavoidable.
A big fan of the movie as a kid, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one and it sure didn’t disappoint. Right away, the game had me hooked: its gorgeous visuals, its fluid animation, its clever yet goofy sense of humour, its creative, unexpected approach to some of the classic scenes from the movie, it was just everything I hoped the game would be and more. I tried the Super Nintendo version of the game around about the same time I got the Genesis one but for me there was honestly no contest: as decent as the SNES version was, Sega had already sunk its teeth into my neck and turned me into one of them.
Right off the bat, you know you’re in for a fun ride:
Fun and ever-so-slightly brutal.
I mean, having the Genie shoot Iago with a revolver IN THE FACE as soon as you start the game?
All kinds of awesome but in retrospect: ouch.
Sure that bird has an annoying voice but…
Actually, looking back at the game I realised just why I liked it so much: its jokes tend to get pretty dark at times. Every stage has tons of lols and no matter how messed-up some of them are, they always work and they’re always funny.
It’s like if the Genie had made an Aladdin game!
I mean, here Aladdin doesn’t just run away from the Sultan’s guards, he straight-up murders ’em!
Granted they don’t bleed or anything, instead vanishing into puffs of smoke but it’s still pretty rough. A lot of the time you can just throw apples at them and they explode but it’s just so satisfying to sword them to death, you’ll find yourself doing that every chance you get!
Look at this guy:
You get rid of him by swording his knives back to him and getting him stabbed by them.
Some guys are really annoying and deserve the chop, like these weird gold dudes from the Cave of Wonders:
They stand perfectly still but as soon as you get somewhat close to them they hit you.
Hate these guys.
But some enemies are just happily stuffing their faces with Oreo cookies…
Why kill THEM?
Aladdin’s just jealous because he only has regular cookies.
To go back to the twisted sense of humour this game has, you can actually find Mickey Mouse ears a few times during it.
If you stick your head under this one, you get an extra life. Which is pretty cool.
It doesn’t work for everybody though.
Just look at what happened to the last guy:
What is this? Lars Von Trier’s Aladdin?!
Thankfully not all of the humour in the game is sinister, a lot of it is more cartoonish than anything else. Modern references, usually associated with the Genie, are peppered throughout and surprisingly that works brilliantly. Whether it’s the odd “Stop” sign in the middle of the desert…
Or prison jokes hidden in the background:
Every level has its share of fun, random things to discover. Keeping a tongue-in-cheek vibe throughout while still keeping you involved and facing challenges where you need to actually pay attention.
It’s not all lols, the game does have its epic moments.
The highlight for me being that thrilling magic carpet escape from the Cave of Wonders. There’s a great, surprisingly intense build-up to it and when you’re finally having to outrun magma it’s serious business. The Genie’s hands pop up to give you guidance but every so often he tricks you and you’re left to make swift, risky decisions…
Way to earn your freedom, dude.
I’m gonna wish for you to be more helpful, how about that?
Other epic moments include some good old-fashioned Indiana Jones action:
And of course the inevitable final Jafar battle:
He turns into a snake and everything, it’s totally awesome.
Well, it would have been more awesome if he actually turned into that giant snake like he does in the movie but it works. He’s pretty easy to beat if you stand far away enough from him and apple him to death. Unlike the Bible would have you believe: snakes HATE apples. Especially red ones.
The game as a whole is actually not too hard. The controls are so smooth that you really feel like you’re in the driving seat and you’re never fumbling for the right button. You guys should have seen me attempt to play Soul Calibur II on the PS2 the other day, it was all sorts of embarrassing. It’s like I forgot how to use my hands! Wasn’t used to playing Soul Calibur on that particular console…
With good old Aladdin, it’s smooth sailing all the way controls-wise. Which is not to say the game is ridiculously easy, it does have its challenging moments, but really its primary goal was to be enjoyable and entertaining and it reached that goal perfectly. I like how it explains everything to you straight-away without wasting any time:
So many games could benefit from such a simple introduction.
If you see this screen and then have issues understanding the game then maybe you should go back to playing Pong because this is pretty darn succinct.
Heart beards? REALLY?
Why would a heart even need a beard?!
Ok, this game officially makes no sense to me now.
My favourite moments, playing the game as a kid, all involved the Genie. His presence is felt throughout the whole game and every time he pops up it’s always as something hilarious.
Case and point:
He even gets his own level where you get to enter his sick, demented mind and basically play through the “Friend Like Me” song from the movie. This is my personal favourite level and it’s completely surreal from start to finish. Visually, it’s insane and because of that, it’s actually vastly unpredictable and, by extension, pretty hard at times.
Well at least HE’s enjoying himself…
It’s a really creative level and shows just how much fun they were having when they made this game. Loads of great ideas, loads of genius nonsense, I love it. Although how the level ends is a bit weird:
Don’t get me wrong: I love the guy. But do I really need to enter his mouth to complete the level? That just… doesn’t sound too pleasant to me. I don’t know who wished for me to be eaten by a genie but…
Damn you Abu!!!
Speaking of which, that’s a screenshot from one of the mini games where you get to play as the Donald Duck-voiced monkey and take out rocks or pots and stuff. They’re pretty fun and give the game a little more variety. You’re also given a Genie-mouthed slot machine to play with every so often:
lol Even in anthropomorphised slot machines, Jafar wears eyeliner.
Another nifty in-game function is you can actually purchase lives whenever that creepy salesman shows up in town:
I’ve personally never seen Aladdin purchase anything, like, ever.
Some thief you are!
Look out for some deliciously enjoyable animal cruelty involving camels and flamingos to name a couple…
All in all, surreal lols aside, you end up with a great-looking Aladdin game that’s a joy to play through, that has the charm of the film it’s based on along with the energy and the light-heartedness of its sequels and the animated series. And bursts of creativity all around, of course. A lot of Disney retro games are extremely well made and truly deserve to be played, I mentioned Mickey Mania not too long ago, this is certainly one of them.
Aladdin is a classic and although I’ve played it countless times, it’s still a pleasure to go back to it every so often. If only to use that crazy-useful level-skipping code (ABBAABBA) and get to the Genie’s demented level which never fails to make me lol.
The game, in its cool cut-scenes, also finds the time to include some nice little moments from the movie and ends in typically earnest Disney fashion:
Hm, this is all getting a bit girly.
I should end with a toilet joke or something.
Aladdin, help me out!
Surely you can do better than that, though.
Theeeeeeere it is.