Friday, May 6, 2011

Lion King (SNES, Genesis)

These days movie games have the stigma of being cheaply made cash-ins, but back in the early 90's when this game was made, movie tie-ins were often of average, if not great quality. I'll be reviewing this game SOLELY as a video game, but I'll say this: the game's levels and progression do a fantastic job of following the movie's pacing and plot structure while maintaining video game integrity (ie not ripping dialogue and scenes straight from the movie). That's about all I ask from a movie game in relation to the movie itself. The point is the game should stand on its own two feet as a GAME and take only plot structure and basic ideas for gameplay from the movie - which this game does.
 
SNES favoritism?





Gameplay is split between two sections - child and adult. Child gameplay is pretty much vanilla platforming with jumping as your main form of attack (similar to ole Mario himself). There's also a roar function but its mostly useless, stunning some enemies briefly and possibly killing really weak enemies.

This game has one incredibly valuable lesson to learn as far as game design goes. Platformers often have levels or level segments where the gameplay is quite different than any where else in the game. Normally this isnt a bad thing as it keep things fresh as far as these "ventures off the main path" are fun. But if incorporated incorrectly, it becomes an ugly train wreck fast, and all too often the devs will be blind to the abomination they created. Meanwhile the player is crying "I was having so much fun playing this game, WHERE did we go wrong?"

This game commits that terrible sin. That sin is the "I can't wait to be king" level, the second one. Anyone who has played this game as a kid knows exactly what I'm talking about. You have to roar (yeah I know I said it was useless, oops) at these damn monkeys so they face in the right directions and toss you toward the goal. The last segment is particularly annoying and very difficult to get them facing the right directions when you know nothing about it. It has little to do with platforming, and it isnt fun, period. It has no place in the game. To add insult to injury, there are these ostrich riding sections in the same level. They aren't too bad, but they are difficult and will kill you at least a few times before you get the hang of it. Oh and then there's the BS where you have to swing across some rhino tails across water. Altogether its too many difficult and annoying mechanics, ESPECIALLY for the second level.


                                                       Looks can be deceiving. This level is actually the devil.

How many people do you think will give up on this level? That's a damn shame because the rest of the game is fantastic and considerably less annoying. But it isn't the players fault, that much I can tell you for sure.There are many devs and apologetic players that will argue otherwise, but they are wrong, just so you know. You can't take whatever you come up with and shove it into the game and think it will hold together with some fancy glue - if you could there would be a lot more game designers out there. You have to know when your shit stinks.

After such a negative rant you probably think I hate this game, but pretty much everything after the 2nd level is fantastic. The "elephant graveyard" is some awesome and challenging platforming done right, bouncing off stretched out elephant hides and pouncing on vultures and climbing jagged rocks to avoid geysers. Damn. And once you become an adult in the later levels things get awesome as you get A LOT of combat abilities and you'll be mauling and slashing hyenas and cheetahs left and right.

But I'm going to avoid reviewing every little thing because there's already an entire internet out there for that crap. I really wanted to use this game to rant about annoying unique mechanics destroying otherwise good games. Its a pitfall that is so easy to fall into when designing games - I guarantee some sad sack is ruining some awesome game right now with some effed up idea he cooked up, and he's getting paid good money to do it.

And for the record, I'm aware the stampede level also incorporates very different gameplay than the rest of the game, but honestly it isnt bad. For one it lasts for the entire level and is quite short, and its just some basic dodging with a different viewpoint and some epic music. It doesn't have much to do with platforming, but it captures that moment of the movie well and more importantly its not the SECOND level. Overall its not adding a whole lot to the game, but isnt really subtracting anything either. Its not cancerous like the second level.

                                                Not cancerous. Or maybe just less so.

PS - The final level is *bleeping* epic. THAT is how you take an amazing final battle from a movie and turn it into an amazing final battle in a game.

DOES RIGHT
+Very nice graphics and animation that do a fantastic job of capturing the feel of the movie
+Each level has its own niche and plays differently, keeping things interesting; the transition to adult keeps things fresh as well
+Even today, the final level and battle with Scar is amazing. You even have to throw him off the cliff to finish the game.

DOES WRONG
-Don't put so many mechanics early on in the game that are completely different than the rest of the game(in this case the 2nd level, its a HUGE turn off to the player, especially when they are not fun

GAMES HAVE TO BE FUN DAMMIT

54 comments:

Moobeat said...

I used to play the crap out of this

JDOGMMA said...

God damn this brings back memories. Always had trouble with that level with the Hyenas...

Dejch said...

played that back in the days

Intraman said...

the race with the gnus must have been fun

Sean said...

No thanks.

sp3nny said...

ahhhh, good old days

Blog Hunt said...

wow lion king? awesome!

rakoth said...

I've played this game on Genesis and NES. Genesis version was great, as you have described, a memorable experience especially if you had seen the movie before (my first movie on a Cinema ever).

The NES version was horrible because it was less than half the game. I'm not kidding, the game ends after Hakuna Matata stage (so no adult Simba, fuuuuu), I guess they ran out of cardridge space. Terrible.

Thanks for the memories, keep it up :)

Xenototh + Lizzie said...

ya know, I did actually quit this game. I really hated that monkey level. I can't believe you called that so accurately... lol.

Blogs4Hogs said...

They made a game of the Lion King? Huh.

Fortune said...

This and the goddamn Aladdin game... fFFFfffff

//Love said...

Cool game

fabio_2007 said...

sorry, but it's not the kind of games I like

Dinner said...

Looks kinda cool. Lion King will always be a classic

MJ to IM said...

My favorite movie

Leo` said...

oooh this game was GREAT, aimations were so awesome

Miyamoto Karyuu said...

never tried it out xD

Adam Rockefeller said...

I can't believe I actually remember this game. Wow, I feel old.

Joel C Anatoli said...

Oh man.. This brought me back..


I used to play it when I was a kid.

Gino6 said...

Bring back so many memories. The canyon part was kinda weird.

SkipHopz said...

yo this game was pretty tough. but the Genesis version was def better!

Chloroform said...

Nostalgia'd!

Piets said...

HOLY FUCKING <3

Lealeepo said...

Haha oh yeah good old times. This is really an artifact although it wasn't so popular like other games.

Something Wycked said...

Oh man, blast from the past, back when graphics didn't matter and all we cared about was how fun the game was!

potd said...

i loved the movie when i was young :D

Innov8 Graphics said...

haha, i never knew there was a Lion King game!

lacrosseman said...

I used to think those graphics were amazing lol

Jimmy said...

jokes I had this! memories <3

SamanthaBlues said...

Can't remember you digged this... Loved the game, thou boss on first level, in that forest, was always too hard for me

R3tardedm0nkey said...

I remember this game! It was fking epic!!

Gambling Degenerate said...

wow finally a game you talk about that i never played

Genj0 said...

My kid would love that game!

Dixie said...

wow, I actually remember that one!
thanks for nostalgia dude

Rich Connolly said...

GREAT REVIEW! I'm a collector and reviewer myself! Check out my blog for more of the same. Also, I actually just picked up a complete copy of Lion King on the Genesis today at the flea market. Going to go pop it in right now :)

Lucky13 said...

I loved to play this game when I was a kid.
Awesome review btw!

Ox Mann said...

Oh gosh I played the hell out of this game when I was little. I am officially in love with this blog!

Void said...

Fuck that game! EVO is better :3

Rick said...

Awesome article man!

Pappa Püllï said...

This game is fucking cash! Nice blog

Something Wycked said...

Thanks for the write up :D

MJ to IM said...

nice review!

Icepax_Nmir said...

I loved this game as a kid! It's totally amazing =D

Common said...

Too many games mistake difficulty for fun, it's fun to have a challenge to overcome, it's annoying to have to replay a certain bit over and over.

Energy Drink Extravaganza said...

Such a good game I remember growing up playing it

The Game Store Guy said...

Coincidentally, I just played this game the other day. So fun!

Something Wycked said...

Looking forward to the next post!

Lunarchy said...

I played this game soooo much when I was a kid, absolutely loved it. But that was a long time ago, tastes have changed. Not sure if I'd appreciate it as much now.

clique said...

OMG me and my sister used to play this game all day. My favorite was teh jungle level where you flipped omn the monkeys!

James said...

Nostaglia, all the way!!!

Vav said...

You're totally right! Jungle Book and Alladin were great games!

S41 said...

Lots of memories...

JoeyK said...

Ohhh childhood ;_;

zemzero said...

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw man, I forgot about this game. I used to go over my neighbors house and play it. The level where you run toward the screen and the rocks flash where they are about to show up always gave me trouble. Flipping over jungle platforms...this wasn't that bad of a game actually.

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