Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Aladdin (Genesis/Mega Drive)

Aladdin Genesis Mega Drive game title screen
A.k.a. Disney's Aladdin I suppose.

There's a few different Aladdin games, but this is the Genesis/Mega Drive variant, by the makers of Global Gladiators and Cool Spot and probably lots of other games I haven't played yet.

Sega's sound chip pulls off a half decent version of 'A Whole New World' here, but the Amiga and DOS versions surprised me by having actual vocals come in during the chorus. Though you only get the one line, and it's cut off at the end.
"A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us no, or where to go, or say we're only..."
We're only...? Only what?

It starts with a helpful instructions screen just like Cool Spot. Which is helpful.

Not sure why we're saving Princess Jasmine already though, Aladdin hasn't even met her yet.

And then there's some story screens showing that the Sultan's advisor, Jafar, is really keen on getting into the Cave of Wonders. But apparently Aladdin is the only person on Earth who'll be allowed inside, so he schemes to recruit him somehow.


LEVEL ONE - "AGRABAH MARKET".


Well it's already a step up from Cool Spot, because they've taken out the time limit, meaning I can sit watching the idle animations for as long as I want. That's genuine Disney animation that is.

Also it's a step up from Global Gladiators too because for once I don't have to collect anything. I can go straight to the exit if I want. Though grabbing more apples for ammo would probably be a smart move.

Oh, and yeah he still does this animation even when he's out of apples.

There are patches of hot coals all over the streets of Agrabah, but I'd take them over spikes any day. They're not instant death if I touch them, and they actually hurt the enemies as much as they hurt me. Well okay they don't take damage, but look at the guy, he's obviously in pain. Makes it easy for me to run over there and slice him up while he's distracted.

Apparently Nintendo didn't approve of all this guard slaughter, because when the SNES got an entirely different Aladdin game due to licensing rights our hero turned up unarmed. To be honest though, I think that does make more sense for his character.

But on the other hand, I like hitting enemies with a sword, even if the thing doesn't have much range to it. I have to get right up in their face before I can hit anyone

Apples seem just as lethal as my sword, and can kill anything in two or three shots. Maybe they're poisonous or something, I dunno.

It's funny how in the movie Princess Jasmine nearly loses a hand after stealing an apple, but in this they're just floating everywhere. You can pick them out of the sky for free, as many as you like. Well, 99 of them at least.

Another big change from Global Gladiators and Cool Spot is this mid-level shop where I can spend my gems on giant glowing golden heads or wishes. The instruction sheet at the start didn't explain what wishes are, but seeing as it's twice the price of a 1up, I'm guessing they'll be continues.

Well he looks like a trustworthy guy, and I'm sure his resurrection magic is entirely legit, but I think I'll hold on to my cash until I can afford the wish.

Level complete. Time to jump around like an idiot.

In between levels I get to spend the floating genie heads I've collected to win items from a giant genie head mini-game. As long as I don't land on the Jafar head and lose my turns.

It's always nice to get free stuff, but I've got to wonder how the Genie's helping me out when he's still trapped in the Cave of Wonders and we've never met.

But that's not all! I also get a bonus level where I get to dodge falling pots as Abu, Aladdin's sidekick monkey. What kind of a monster would throw their pots at a poor little loveable sidekick anyway? What kind of monster collects this many pots in the first place?

Just as I was getting the hang of keeping my eye on the sky and dodging things falling from above, a guy walked out from the side and instantly caught me, and that's the end of the bonus round. The bastard.


LEVEL TWO - "THE DESERT".


Back to the main game then. Jafar (in disguise) has hired Aladdin to find half of a magical gold scarab in the desert. So I guess I just keep walking around the desert until I find it then.

It's okay, I'm the chosen one, I'm destined to come across it sooner or later. Hopefully.

Amiga
The Amiga version of the game is actually pretty much identical to the Sega version, except for less colours in the background, and better quality music. Oh, also it seems that Aladdin can't walk behind the scenery on this version, so they've taken away the walls hiding the secret passages. These four gems are actually meant to be hidden.

Plus the controls are more awkward, and I have to switch between equipping sword or apples with the space bar instead of them getting a button each.

DOS
The DOS version has all the colours of the Sega version, and the improved music of the Amiga version, though it's also stuck with a shorter screen. On the other versions it's obvious I'm supposed to jump up to grab this rope, because you can actually see the thing running across the screen.

It's not immediately obvious in any of them how to jump up here though. It took me a while to figure it out, because although the level is full of these trees, I wasn't able to jump on any of them until now. Games need to keep things like this consistent or else the player doesn't know what options are available to them.

Amiga
The game finds it funny occasionally to have a row of floating apples leading directly into an enemy.

It also thinks it's hilarious to have me walking down a blind corridor with an enemy at the end. This is all entirely visible on the Amiga version.

Hey Abu, the guy's down already, leave the poor bloke alone. After all he's only doing his job, Aladdin actually is a thief. Plus add the murder (in self-defence) of two levels full of city guards onto that.


LEVEL 3 - "AGRABAH ROOFTOPS".


Amiga
After (eventually) finding the first half of the scarab in the desert, it turns out that the other half is in the possession of a thief in Agrabah, back where I came from.

But first I have to find magic flutes to charm magic ropes and make them fly me up to the rooftops. I don't think I remember this bit of the movie.


A CONSIDERABLE NUMBER OF FLOATING ROPES LATER.


I think you got something that belongs to Jafar, mate. Well, it's gonna belong to him in a minute.

This thief is apparently a boss, but he's a total pushover. I got him backed into a corner and kept pressing the attack button until he was dead. And that was the end of the boss fight.

But immediately after that boss fight, I got into a second boss fight against a guard who thinks he's Donkey Kong. I had my problems with Global Gladiators and Cool Spot, but at least they didn't have bosses. Though I realise I might be in the minority with that opinion.

Anyway this guy wasn't much trouble in the end. I jumped the barrels and threw the apples (and ran to get a restock of apples) and then threw more apples, and eventually he exploded. And that's it for the city guard.

But then Aladdin is captured off screen anyway! Princess Jasmine, who Aladdin has never once met, comes out of nowhere to inexplicably defend him, but he's still taken away to the dungeons. Exactly where Jafar wants him...

Except, Aladdin's already working for Jafar in this game, he's just got the scarab for him, and he was totally willing to go to the Cave of Wonders. So having him locked him up is a bloody stupid thing to do really.


LEVEL FOUR - "SULTAN'S DUNGEON".


Wow, the game's gone full Prince of Persia now, well except for the gameplay part. And they were kind enough to let me keep my sword, instead of... OH SHIT IT'S A BAT! KILL IT KILL IT!

Damn these things are annoying like a Castlevania bat. Okay they're not likely to knock me back into any insta-kill holes, but they're still a bastard to hit. Probably my toughest enemy yet, not counting Donkey Kong (but including the thief boss.)

So I guess the gimmick on this level is going to be these disappearing brick platforms then. I have to time my jumps right to leap off just as they're sliding into the wall, so I can land on the next one as it's coming out. But I keep jumping half a second too early and falling through (see above).

The game definitely more linear than Global Gladiators and Cool Spot, but that's mostly because there's no reason to backtrack and find alternative paths. On the other hand there's more variety to the gameplay than in either of them.

Oh, well this can't be good. It's funny how every single skeleton down here has bomb/head problems, meaning I have to hit them before I get bone shrapnel in my face. You'd think with this many bombs lying around I could grab a few for myself, but nope, they're reserved for the undead.

You know, these beams and chains in the foreground are really starting to annoy me now. They're a distraction and they make it hard to see what I'm doing sometimes.


LEVEL FIVE - "THE CAVE OF WONDERS".


And I've escaped the prison. Right, after that entirely pointless level I'm back to working for Jafar. He's used the scarab to open up the Cave of Wonders, and now I've got to go inside and grab a magic lamp for him.

I killed a few bats, and jumped a few platforms, and ended up at a blind jump. This is the only way I can go so there can't be anything THAT dangerous down there surely?

It was spikes.


SOON.


Right, I got over the spikes and I'm making progress again. Now I have to break these statues to open up paths for some reason. The trouble is I never get a minute's peace to do anything without bats turning up and pestering everywhere I go. This place is like bat hq... though I suppose that makes sense, it being a cave and everything.

I've got 25 gems so I should probably find a shop and stock up on continues before I suffer too many bat-related fatalities and lose them all. Hey, I just noticed that my gems look exactly like the one on that statue. That's weird.

Another boss fight, fantastic. He teleports to the right, I walk over and hit him, he teleports to left, I walk over... repeat 2,000 times or so. I lost count.

It's nice that Virgin Games put the extra effort into making these one off encounters (with actual Disney animation for each of them!), but I really wish they hadn't bothered.

Hell yeah, killing the boss finally got me the magic carpet. Onwards, my good rug!

Oh no, wait, he just dropped me off down here and left without me. Okay then. At least I got a health refill and a checkpoint. The game's actually been pretty good with checkpoints so far, I usually restart fairly close to where I was killed.

Son of a bitch! I have to jump over a row of sinking platforms, and Aladdin's like Cool Spot, he's got two kinds of jumps. If I don't get him doing a long jump instead of a high jump, he'll never have the distance to make it.

I wasted so many lives trying to make it over these bloody platforms, but in the end I finally made it. The nightmare's over now, forever.

Agh, no you dumb monkey, leave the treasure alone! You fool, you'll turn the cave into a lava-filled death trap and seal us inside forever!


LEVEL SIX - "THE ESCAPE".


Fuck.

The jumps at the end of the last stage were just a prelude to the shit I have to go through on this one. And look, this is the first jump on the level. I'm struggling just to make the very first jump here! Where's that bloody carpet when you need him?


SOON.


Well there goes one of my precious continues.

Not sure about those neon signs, they seem very anachronistic. Though I'm sure if the Genie was standing next to them I wouldn't have given them a second thought.

Shit, a fucking boulder rolled out behind me and all I could do was hit jump and hope for the best. I came so close to making it across, but Aladdin ain't the type to pull himself up ledges so close wasn't anywhere near good enough. Another life lost.

It doesn't help that the ledge I had to run across is the same colour as the background. I jumped too early because I didn't even realise it was there until afterwards.

The first time I made it this far I jumped up to grab the apple and fell right down the hole after it.

And of course straight after this boulder falls out of the tunnel, another one rolls out the next hole to replace it.

What the FUCK? The path branched off, so I decided to take the high path, as that usually seems to be safer. Only this time it lead to INSTANT DEATH.

No checkpoints on this level by the way. I gotta memorise each section and then do the whole thing in one perfect run. I don't know what they were thinking.

Well, at least I know I must have been doing quite well up to this point to have so many extra lives.

But this level really is ridiculous, it feels like it belongs in a different game. The other levels weren't without a bit of challenge, but this is like a difficulty brick wall out of nowhere.


EVENTUALLY.


DOS
I did a good run this time, and made it all the way up to a blind jump. There didn't seem to be anything over there to land on, and there were pickups behind me, so I stopped for a second to figure out if there was another way around. And that's when the insta-kill boulder rolled up the hill to instantly kill me.

And that's my last life. Game over.

Give up, street rat
DOS
Jaffa laughs at my defeat. Wait, aren't I still working for him? He sent me in there to get the lamp, and I was on my way out with it for him... and he's telling me to give up? Well, if he insists.


I really want to like this game, because... well, it looks fucking awesome. It's slick, it's got variety and charm, and the gameplay is very solid. Plus I get to run around with a sword. But it also likes to be a total bastard on occasion.

Out of the three systems I played on, I think the Genesis/Mega Drive is the winner, but not by much. All three versions are very similar, but the DOS version suffers from a smaller screen, and the Amiga's dodgy controls make the jumps even harder.

Somehow I don't think I'll ever get past that lava level, but I can't imagine I won't play this again anyway, so I'll give it the gold star. Because only being able to play half of a good game is better than sitting through an entire bad one.


1993 - Aladdin (Genesis/Mega Drive)
1993 - Aladdin (SNES)
1994 - Aladdin (Master System)

1 comment:

  1. I actually just played through this a few weeks ago.

    -The bosses in this game are really weird. They tend to be repetitive fights that go on for too long. The final boss is awful, so it's just as well that you didn't get there. In that fight you take damage if you stand in the same spot for more than half a second, since the entire floor is hot. No, seriously.

    -Abu is hilarious in this game, especially when he beats up the guards.

    -I played the SNES version a long time ago, and I feel pretty safe in saying that this is the better version. I imagine that following this with the SNES version will leave a player missing their sword.

    -Looks like you hated the lava level as much as I did. I had a lot of trouble with that first jump, and like you I misjudged how far out that first ledge went. That level can go die.

    -Here's a post I did on the game, if you're interested in seeing what happens next: www.coronajumper.com/2013/02/aladdin-sega-genesis-1993.html

    ReplyDelete

Semi-Random Game Box