Aladdin review (SNES)

After seeing Virgin’s smart Mega Drive version of Aladdin running at the Chicago CES last summer, it’s rumoured that Capcom went back to the drawing board to improve the animation in their long awaited SNES game. But with the finished game finally here, you can’t help feeling that their efforts might have been better directed at some of the game’s more immediate flaws. Chiefly its lack of levels. And accordingly, its lack of any real challenge. The game is way too short and horribly easy to finish. And this is a great shame when so many of its other characteristics, notably the gameplay, shine so brightly.

But, despite the challenge factor, is the game as pretty as the Sega version? Does it match up to the high standards set by Virgin and Disney? Well, yes, and… sort of. In terms of game structure, SNES Aladdin is basically their Mickey’s Magical Quest game in a new outfit. There are seven levels, each divided into a few sub-sections, and there are bosses at the end of most levels. Virgin’s game saw fit to dispense with such conventions.

But where Capcom’s Aladdin really scores is with the gameplay – it’s a bit more sophisticated, borrowing a lot of its appeal from Prince Of Persia-style play mechanics. So, there’s a distinctive Capcom flavour here, certainly. But while it plays absolutely wonderfully, it’s also lacking so much. And what it lacks is so fundamental that you wonder what Capcom are playing at. It’s hard to believe that they could mess up Aladdin when they’ve had so long to work on it.

Mickey’s Magical Quest, another platformer that lacked content, fared better because it had more variety and detail in the individual levels. Sadly Aladdin’s levels are quite sparse in places; one entire level is wasted on a flying carpet bonus section. Just as bad is Aladdin’s soundtrack – a dismal warbling rendition of the film music, using exactly the same sounds used in every Capcom SNES game ever.

In many ways the problem with Aladdin is integral to the licence. It’s a mainstream property so it has to be geared to satisfy the casual player first. And the big drawback with this is that it makes the game way, way too easy. We finished all seven levels in just one hour of intense playing – that roughly equates to a pound per minute. Fun while it lasts, but it doesn’t last long enough.

This review originally appeared in E4, January 1994.

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