Developer(s) – Capcom
Publisher(s) – Capcom
Designer – Shinji Mikami
Rating – N/A
Part of Capcom’s repertoire of licensed games, Aladdin for the Super Nintendo was in fact in direct competition with a counterpart for the Sega Mega Drive developed by Virgin Games, which were both met with critical and commercial acclaim; with the Mega Drive port becoming the third best-selling game for the system behind Sonic 1 and 2. The Super Nintendo game was developed by Shinji Mikami of Resident Evil fame, who went to say that he actually preferred the Mega Drive version, but in my opinion, the Super Nintendo version is much more challenging, and more enjoyable by proxy.
Graphics – 10/10
With what technology was available at the time, the developers captured the feel of the film perfectly. The city of Agrabah is shown in every different time frame, ranging from day to sunset to night, and the Cave of Wonders has the same dark and ominous atmosphere, along with some pretty elaborate level designs. There was also even a level added in the form of the Desert Temple, depicting Aladdin attempting to rescue his companion Abu, after he falls of the carpet whilst riding back to Agrabah, which doesn’t happen in the film.
Gameplay – 7/10
The game is a traditional 2D side scroller, which was commonplace at the time. Players are required to adapt to the structure of each level in order to get around as best as they can; similar to the Lion King video game, but with a great element of challenge in my opinion. Shinji Mikami stated that the reason why he thought the Mega Drive port to be better was because of the fact that Aladdin wields a sword, but in my opinion, not only does the lack of a weapon make for a heightened sense of challenge but it also better adheres to Aladdin’s character in the film, since he likes to improvise.
Controls – 10/10
There are no issues with the games controls whatsoever. It’s actually quite interesting to witness how well the developers were able to modify the 2D platforming formula by giving Aladdin so many different acrobatic abilities in order to overcome all the different obstacles in each level. The level whereby this factor is at its most prominent is in the Cave of Wonders, with the player having to make very careful precision jumps over narrow rock and skipping stones.
Lifespan – 5/10
The game can take just over an hour to complete, which at this time was just about the average lifespan of a 2D platformer. With the advent of Super Mario World, Nintendo had proven that 2D Side scrollers could be made to last considerably longer, whilst also having much more substance in gameplay, so at this point, Aladdin’s lifespan was made to seem underwhelming in comparison.
Storyline – 6/10
Depicting the story of the film, it follows a young street urchin named Aladdin, who comes across a magic lamp, and uses the genie inside to change the course of life for the better. As was customary in video games at the time, there wasn’t a great amount of emphasis on the story, with the developers merely sticking to the broad strokes. They added another subplot to it in order to in turn add a new level, but of course, it’s much better to simply watch the film to get the best feel for the story; the comedic element is much stronger, as it is provided by the late great Robin Williams as the genie.
Originality – 5/10
Unfortunately, since this game followed the trends and tropes of what most games did at the time, it’s a clear sign that this game was rushed out to retail to coincide with the film to a certain extent. But regardless, the game isn’t without its charms; it’s a challenging title, in lieu of Capcom tradition, which isn’t too inaccessible and presents players with an experience that stands out among a fair few other side scrollers released at the time.
Overall, Aladdin was a fairly well developed licensed game, made in a time before the medium of games based on a pre-existing license would generally become frowned upon within the industry. Batman: Arkham Asylum would go on to break that notion many years later, but Capcom made good use of many Disney licenses, and this game is no exception.