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Disney's Aladdin (SNES) artwork

Disney's Aladdin (SNES) review

"The blue genie lies dormant in his lamp. There is no sound. There is no movement. For decades – god knows how many – he has waited inside his lamp for a new owner, waited for freedom. Luckily for genie, that day has come! "

The blue genie lies dormant in his lamp. There is no sound. There is no movement. For decades – god knows how many – he has waited inside his lamp for a new owner, waited for freedom. Luckily for genie, that day has come!

The street urchin Aladdin rubs the lamp, his filthy hands leaving even more mess on its gilt surface. Genie emerges in an ebullient display of fireworks, his heart filled with more joy than ever before! Eager to stretch his legs, he goes for a quick jaunt around the world. Half way around, catastrophe strikes! As he cruises over a rubbish tip somewhere near Panama, Genie espies his own bright blue face grinning up at him from a game cartridge. He grabs it, steals a console from a nearby weakling and begins playing.

Genie finishes the game thirty minutes later, his face registering simultaneously the looks of unhappiness, disgust, embarrassment and shame. He slinks back to his lamp, crawls inside, and is never seen again!

Poor old genie. If only he’d stumbled across the Genesis incarnation of Aladdin. Instead of finding that game – an original and enterprising platformer – the genie had the misfortune of finding the much cruder and overly derivative SNES version. This little game is comprised of a mere six levels, and a level of challenge that is more insulting than the INSULTO-5000. It all begins a long time ago in the bustling metropolis of Agrabah. Aladdin, the protagonist and aforementioned urchin, is living a carefree life within its city walls! However this all changes for the loveable scamp when he becomes just that, and wins the affections of the local princess. What follows is an epic match up. Dark, conspiring forces fighting against one boy and his lamp.

Does anybody care? No. This game is too short and sterile to procure any emotional attachment with a gamer. As long as you know how to jump with the slightest degree of finesse, you’ll be done with it within the first three days. Most of the stages are split into sections, and each one will be attempting to try to test your agility to the fullest!

Obstacles abound at every step. You’ll have to constantly swing from bronzed rings, bounce off helium balloons and negotiate collapsing floors. All perilous concepts, but strangely enough Aladdin never seems to really be endangered by any of them. And if by chance he managed to miss the next ledge and plummet to his doom, it’s a sure thing that one of the countless spare lives and continues would see him through. These gauntlets can sometimes provide a sense of achievement, Aladdin’s acrobatics would put most game heroes to shame, but they generally fail in any way to be remotely fulfilling.

Look out! Here comes variety! Oh...there he goes again. What I’m trying to say is that amongst the levels bloated with spine-twisting obstacles there are a couple of fleeting traces of something different. The famous flying-carpet is given a chance to shine on two occasions. The first is a frenetic race through a cavern of rocks with a tidal wave of lava nipping at your heels. The second is the exact opposite; a harmless romantic flight with Aladdin and Jasmine, “A Whole New World” jarring through the speakers in an inane attempt at poignancy. This flight actually encompasses one entire level, and merely gives more credence to my theory that the challenge and replay value of this little game is a load of bollocks.

Moving on, and we find a bunch of tenuous strands holding together this game and the Disney movie. For a game designed as a filmic spin-off, the plot development is decidedly sketchy. The levels are isolated incidents, not necessarily related to the movie (who can honestly remember Aladdin being invited into the lamp for a string of life-or-death challenges?), that are strung together by primitive cut-scenes. These sequences of stagnant images and scrolling words do not do the story justice. Their crudely worded plot developments merely add to the sterility of the package.

Lets examine what we have. A ragtag collection of pyramid, cave and castle levels, “joined” by unfortunate looking segues. The resultant package is a disjointed one, each stage feeling more like a mini-game than a stepping stone in Aladdin’s progression. A spin-the-wheel mini-game doesn’t manage to distract anyone from these fatal flaws, and its prizes manage to negate the challenge factor further. The overall prognosis for Aladdin is looking bleak, will the design elements provide the CPR required to revive this old dog?

Breathe, graphics! BREATHE! The visuals are serviceable. They DO manage to do justice to the whole Disney/cartoon thing. Suitably bright and energetic, the blue-rinsed cloud world of the genie, and the picturesque flight over Agrabah are definite highlights. Graphical finesse is a must when you’re dealing with such a finicky platformer, and this looks make the gaming a breeze. Bravo!

Pump, sound! PUMP! The audio won’t really come pumping through your speakers. It’s more likely to rattle out, in the form of some repetitive, overwhelming tunes. Many of them are taken straight from the movie’s soundtrack, but hardly prove to be as memorable. This is one soundtrack that is easily turned down, and forgotten even more so!

I really wanted to like this game. I remember bouncing about years ago in my local cinema, cursing and shouting at the sinister Jafar and losing myself in the magic of Aladdin’s tale. It’s embarrassing to see Jafar reduced to the tame serpentine villain at the end of this game. This boss fight (a veritable walk in the park) is simply a lackluster ending to a lackluster title. Aladdin may not be the most deplorable title I’ve ever played, but it’s in a genre glutted to such an extent that this game can easily be deemed inconsequential.

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Community review by kingbroccoli (April 25, 2004)

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