Earlier this year, Disney released their CGI remake of The Lion King. This fall, they will re-release their 1994 Sega Genesis adaptation of the film. It will be part of a package which also includes the Aladdin video game (as mentioned in last week’s post).
For those who don’t recall, the game was a side scrolling platformer that followed Simba’s journey from a young cub to his final battle with Scar to reclaim control of Pride Rock. Westwood Studios developed the game, in conjunction with Disney Software. Disney handled the animation and even managed to work in material that had been cut from the original film (specifically, the adventures Simba has after Mufasa’s death but before returning to battle Scar).
While the game is primarily a platformer, there is one notable exception: the scene in the gorge where the water buffalo stampede. This portion of the game was a forward facing dash to safety, with the player dodging the stampeding animals. Louis Castle, co-founder of Westwood, stated that Disney initially considered scrapping this portion of the game altogether and even held a meeting to make the cut, but Westwood demonstrated the gameplay of the level and successfully saved it.
Writing about the game, Entertainment Weekly stated, “this Simba moves so fluidly and so realistically you’d swear you were playing an interactive cartoon.” The review did skew in favor of the SNES version (released the same year), stating that it had superior graphics, music, and sound effects. The review went on to state that playing the adult version of Simba, “is so well observed that it’s like watching a PBS nature documentary. The sense of power it gives you is exhilarating, and by the time Simba takes his climactic heavyweight stand against his evil uncle Scar, this Lion King has turned into a wild-kingdom variant of Street Fighter II.”
As a certifiable Disney fanatic, it’s exciting to think that a game available to me when I was a kid will now be available to my own kids in a re-mastered format. Thus, the Circle of Life is complete.