Being born in 1989 this is one of the first movie i ever saw, and i think it is save to say that till’ this day it is still one of my favorite movie. That being said, of course i found a way to get my hands on the official game, and it still plays pretty good.
This is one of a few good Disney games that were released on the MD/genesis, some of them might get a review later.
I didn’t have a Sega Mega Drive at the time but that is the version i played and the only version of the game i have owned so i will review the MD/Genesis version. Shallow research has shown me that the games are extremely similar and many say that the gameplay is smoother in the MD/Genesis version so i will not worry about it.
You start the game as young Simba in a pretty straight forward platforming level. You can jump and roar, your jump being your main way of fighting. The roar is a helpful tool, for example you have to roar at hedgehogs to turn them around before you jump on them. Other examples are roaring at the monkeys! This infamous level where the monkeys are throwing you around. That level is actually pretty intuitive if you ask me, and a pretty good riddle.
The controls feel pretty slick. It takes a moment for you to get the momentum to do a long jump so it might happen you jump too short and get into trouble, maybe you can’t grab something properly when swinging, other than that no real problems. There are a lot of instant death moment and you won’t be very happy about many of them. There are moments where you will jump mistime your jump, or suddenly a huge boulder starts following you without warning and you have to start from the start or a checkpoint(thankfully).
One level gives you a different viewpoint of Simba, when he is running from the wildebeests in the gorge. Don’t worry you won’t have to relive the sadness of what comes after that in the movie, but a few levels after that you get to play as grown up Simba. Grown up Simba can slash with his claws and do a clawing/flipping move that actually most players didn’t even know of until they had to learn it to be able to flip Scar in the final level. Despite being a full grown lion it does not stop those damn annoying monkeys to stop bugging you, if they hit you with their nuts or rocks and whatever 4 times you’re out. So annoying…
There are not many enemies in this game though and one of them always confused me. You have of course the hyenas who are bosses and mini-bosses at earlier levels, but then there are these leopards that throw themselves at you, so you slap them a few times and they’re gone but they are many and one of them might get a lucky shot at you. In the later stages when the Leopards and Hyenas begin to come at you 3 or 4 at a time the difficulty of the game spikes. You have plenty of lives and continues depending on the difficulty setting (easy, normal, hard) and you are probably going to need a lot of them, and maybe won’t beat it on the first run, in fact you probably won’t at the normal setting and don’t know where to find extra continues. So even though this is a Disney game it is a decent challenge.
I know there are many like me who just got stuck at Scar(final boss) and didn’t know how to flip him over the cliff to finish him off. Even after googling it i could not do it until i had slapped him over 100 times. Even then i didn’t even know how to use that move since you never really have to. This was very frustrating a kind of boring but then i checked the manual for the game and it says there very clearly how to pull off the move so i can’t be too hard on them. This fight is so epic in the movie it’s s shame that it is so long and anti-climatic in the game.
The game looks amazing i think as you can see in the pics. Simba and the Hyenas look probably as good as they can get on the 16-bit consoles and the background and everything around them is colorful and beautiful, really stands out. The music is also pretty good, of course just variants of the Lion King soundtrack which is amazing. This example is some feel good stuff.
Here is a longplay so you can see more what it’s about. ***spoilers***
Overall i think this is a fun, great looking game that i would recommend to any Lion King and video game fan out there. It is not without it’s flaws like instant unfair deaths and annoying enemies but on the plus side it is fairly challenging, has tight controls and might bring you back to play on other difficulty settings.
Lasting appeal: 7
Is it fun?: 7
Overall: 7.5 a good game