The Lion King Review by: janusThe Lion King: Do You Have What It Takes to Rule the Pride Land?
Faithfully based on the famous Disney movie, The Lion King revisits Simba’s grand journey from a lion cub to the King of the animals. Unlike Aladdin, The Lion King for Sega Genesis is superior in every aspect to the Super Nintendo version.
The graphics for this game are very nice and colorful and are very close to the movie’s. Cub Simba moves around fluidly and his running his very gracious. He jumps, he pounces, he “howls”, he tries to climb ledges he misses… He even chases butterflies around when he waits for too long. And as an adult, Simba’s moving is even more gracious as his lion shape is even more realistic – his mane flows when he runs. His howl can kill small animals, your paws become a mighty weapon and you can attack enemies by throwing them away. Not many similar games have such well-drawn characters.
The levels themselves are also nice and colorful. The first level reflects the light-heartedness of Simba’s youth with very few things to worry about except lizards and porcupines (that turn over when you “howl” ). The second level recreates “I Can’t Wait to Be King” with nearly-psychedelic colors and animals. In the elephant graveyard, you must make your way through all those bones while avoiding vultures and hyenas. After seeing you there (you actually see Scar in the shade at the end of the level), Scar provokes the Stampeded, a fully-3D environment where you must avoid the animals and rocks, as you ultimately end up escaping from Pride Rock chased by the hyenas who throw rocks at you (that level has a sunset, reflecting the end of an important part of your life).
Hakuna Matata, like the first level, is very light-hearted and shows the few worries surrounding you with luscious vegetation and waterfalls everywhere. But once you grow up into an adult, you have to face Simba’s destiny, where the starry night reveals a hint of Pride Rock where you must return. You then cross the set of Be Prepared (where Scar plans his coup), a strange occurrence at this stage of the game. Nevertheless, the background is as fiery as it should. Simba’s return shows a desolate, green-colored Pride Rock where Simba must make his way. Finally, in the final level, you must make your way up to Pride Rock and get even with Scar. You will need to watch out for pits and lightning bolts that can cause fires.
Finally, all your enemies are also well-drawn. The hyenas you face in levels 1 and 3 are fierce and are much bigger than you are, reflecting the strength they have against you. In comparison, starting in Simba’s Destiny, they are much smaller and weaker, showing that you are now much stronger than they are. In that same level, cheetahs are a bit bigger but are still no match to you. Small caveat: because you only see him towards the very end, Scar didn’t seem to have been given the right amount of attention. As a result, his moves aren’t as fluid nor is he as gracious as Simba.
Now, “secondary graphics” (Timon and Pumba) are also nicely done. Timon especially can move around the screen fluidly chasing for bugs while Pumba merely runs left and right to catch bugs Timon is throwing at him. Nevertheless, his drawing is very nice.
Speaking of bugs, you can collect them throughout the game to gain life energy, a mightier howl or replenish your energy. Some of them can hurt you but they can be hard to spot since they are much darker.
For once (along with Aladdin), the Genesis version of a game available for the SNES sounds much better.
The soundtrack is basically a remix of the movie’s. Although purely for adaptation the SNES version is more faithful (“This Land” loop last a little longer as a result), the Genesis version actually sounds closer to the movie’s version – the flute in This Land sounds better. Can’t Wait to Be King is a little more staccato and the Stampede tries to better incorporate the dramatic choir from the movie, making them a better adaptation. Hakuna Matata sounds more joyful (just like This Land), and Under the Stars has both a relaxing tone to it and an epic one, reflecting that you must face Simba’s Destiny.
Sound effects are also well-done. They incorporate genuine voices, a rare feat for 16-bits. You can hear Timon saying (and acting) “It starts” when you start the game, you can hear Pumba complaining “I ate like a PIG” when you eat enough bugs, you can hear Scar telling his hyenas “Kill him”, and at the end of the level the hyenas tell you “If you ever come back, we’ll kill you!” You will even hear and see (although the seeing is limited due to technological limitations) Mufasa telling you, “You must take you place in the Circle of Life”. Finally, you can hear Rafiki saying “The King has returned” (with the same pause) when you use a continue.
Other excellent sound effects include your howling, especially when you are grown-up, your paw attack which does sound like it’s hurting and the monkeys in Simba’s Destiny which do sound like monkeys (they even sound different from those you howl at in Can’t Wait to Be King). The hyenas when you’re Cub Simba and the cheetahs could have sounded better (the former sound like they have a terrible cough), but nothing can be perfect, eh? Oh, and you can hear Pumba’s, er, mighty belch once per bonus round.
Since I loved the movie so much, I easily got hooked to the game.
What did it for me was the very close proximity to the movie, be it the graphics or the music. I really felt like I was watching the movie. I also liked the bug chasing with Timon and Pumba. Although collecting as many bugs as you can doesn’t do much (unless you catch voice or life-enhancing ones), it was still a nice challenge.
As I’ve said above, the game is a faithful re-creation of the movie. You follow Simba’s adventure from his innocent life in Prideland to his colorful escapade when he tries to escape Zazu’s attention, from the Stampede to his escape from Pride Rock and finally back to it so he can get his revenge on Scar.
Of course since it’s a game a few extra elements were added like the Gorilla Boss in Hakuna Matata and the monkeys and cheetahs in Simba’s Destiny. Nevertheless, those who watched the movie will love will find a game truly faithful to the movie it’s adapted from.
I didn’t think the levels were that big, especially as Cub Simba.
In these levels, there isn’t much to explore. All you do is run left and right and reach the end of the level, fighting an occasional boss (mostly the hyenas). You can get a special token to go in the Special Stage and collect Circle of Life for continues, but that’s it. The real challenge is in Can’t Wait, where you need to have monkeys throw you in the right direction.
Level are slightly larger as an adult. They make you use your mighty paw to find your way through vines (Simba’s Destiny) of make stalactites fall off (Be Prepared). Simba’s Return is probably the largest level, with its many dead ends leading you back to where you start.
The Lion King offer three different difficulty levels. The higher the difficulty level, the more you have to hit bosses in order to kill them (from one to three hits for the hyenas). That seems to be the main distinction, although Simba’s Escape seem to also have more falling rocks.
Other than the difficulty level itself, the game proper also proposes many challenges. In Can’t Wait to Be King, You will need to howl at the right monkeys (so they throw you in the right direction) and be mindful of the screen so you jump/duck properly with the ostrich. The Stampede will be quite a challenge as you have to watch both for the gnus running behind you and rocks in front of you (after half the level, you won’t even see the pattern coming up to you).
But the main challenge comes when you are an adult and you don’t have a turbo controller (the SNES didn’t have that problem, though). With the regular Genesis controller, I was never able to throw my foes away as adult Simba (that’s how Simba throws Scar to the hyenas in the movie), which make completing the game nearly impossible because that’s how you need to finish Scar.
In short, The Lion King is a must-try for everyone. The graphics are colorful and faithful to the movie, the music is amazingly close to the real soundtrack (you even have Can You Feel the Love and Circle of Life) and the gameplay is challenging enough for players of every level.
Do you have what it takes to reclaim Pride Rock?