Disney's Aladdin is a series of video games based on the 1992 motion picture of the same name. Unlike some cross-platform games of both then and now, the five versions (Sega Mega Drive, Super NES, Sega Master System/Sega Game Gear, Game Boy and NES) are each different games.
Mega Drive/Genesis version
The game from Virgin based on the 1992 animated Disney film. Initially released on the Sega Genesis console, Aladdin is a side-scrolling platformer.
The Genesis version was released in 1993 jointly by Virgin Interactive and Sega. The game, which was notable for its use of cell animation for in-game graphic elements, was produced by a team at Virgin Interactive which consisted of many members who would later form Shiny Entertainment and work on Earthworm Jim, including Mike Dietz and David Perry himself (who supposedly coded the game in 3 months). Also involved were veteran game designer David Bishop and animators Andy Luckey and Ian Freedman. Five original compositions and five arrangements from the movie were composed by Donald S. Griffin at the request of Virgin's audio director, Tommy Tallarico, who did the Genesis instruments and incidental transition music.
The Genesis version was worked on by Disney animators under the supervision of Virgin's Animation Producer Andy Luckey and Virgin animators Mike Dietz and Ian Freedman. This was achieved by the use of the "Digicel" process -- developed at Virgin Interactive by David Perry, Andy Astor, Andy Luckey, and Dr. Stephen Clarke-Willson. The process compressed the data from the animator's drawings into the limited processing capacity of the Sega Genesis cartridge and/or Mega Drive.
The player controls Aladdin, who must make his way through several levels based on locations from the movie: from the streets and rooftops of Agrabah, the Cave of Wonders and the Sultan's dungeon to the final confrontation in Grand Vizier Jafar's palace. The Sultan's guards and also animals of the desert want to hinder Aladdin in his way. He can attack either close range with a scimitar, which can deflect certain projectiles or long ranger with a limited supply of apples. Next to apples, Aladdin can also collect gems which can be traded for lives and continues with a traveling trader. Finding Genie (blue) or Abu (gold) tokens enables bonus rounds (multiple Genie tokens vs. only one Abu token). The Genie bonus round is a game of luck played for apples, gems or extra lives, and continues until the player runs out of Genie tokens or lands on Jafar, which ends the game and costs the player any remaining tokens. In Abu's bonus round, the player controls the little monkey who has to catch bonus items that fall from the sky but without touching any of the unwanted objects like rocks and pots.
An NES game was released in Europe based on this version. It was also ported, unofficially, twice more to the NES under the names Super Aladdin and Aladdin 2; Super Aladdin is generally considered superior to the official port. The (original) NES version was in turn also made into a Game Boy version, which was compatible with the Super Game Boy and later ported to Game Boy Color. The PC versions (Amiga and DOS) were also based on the Genesis version. The only differences in the PC version from the console are a different HUD and improved music and sound effects.
The Super Nintendo version of Aladdin was developed and published by Capcom. Unlike the Genesis version, the player does not equip a scimitar. Instead, the gameplay revolves around jumping on enemies, as well as vaulting off stumps to reach otherwise inaccessible areas, though, like the Genesis version, the player can also throw apples to stun opponents. The storyline more or less closely follows the plot of its namesake, the Disney full-length animated motion picture, with Aladdin going from a street rat to a prince, who first woos, and then has to rescue, the Jasmine. Most levels and stages of the game will be readily recognized by people who have seen the motion picture, but there are a few levels that have nothing to do with the movie—including a surreal world where Genie—dressed in a tuxedo—serves as Aladdin's guide. However, that level could be considered akin to Genie's famous song "You Ain't Never Had a Friend Like Me" because it occurs right after Aladdin finishes the Cave of Wonders and the song plays as an instrumental during this stage, which was also in the movie when Genie tried to convince Aladdin of his surreal, incredible abilities. The game features renditions of the soundtrack from the Disney motion picture, as well as several mini-games dependent on the player catching a golden scarab or collecting all diamonds within a stage. An extra challenge involved finding 70 red diamonds throughout the game. While they weren't necessary for ending the game, the credits screen changes slightly according to how many diamonds were collected. At the end of the level, you receive a chance to spin to have credits, lives, and bonuses. at the boss level, you need to defeat JAFAR to finish the game.
That version sold over 1.75 million units worldwide.
The reason that the Super Nintendo version of Aladdin was developed by Capcom and not Virgin Interactive was that the film came out at a time when Capcom held the licensing rights to games on Nintendo consoles based on Disney intellectual property. This deal resulted in some classic titles as Ducktales, Darkwing Duck, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (Game Boy version), and Goof Troop. The license expired sometime between the cinematic releases of Aladdin and The Lion King, as the video game adaptation of The Lion King was developed by Virgin Interactive on all platforms including the Super Nintendo, and the Mega Drive version of Aladdin was ported to the NES for a European release on New Year's Eve 1994. The Capcom version was also ported unofficially to the NES by an unknown company in 1995. It was also ported unofficially to the Mega Drive/Genesis.
A version of the game would also later receive a port for the Game Boy Advance with an extra stage, though all the songs based directly on the original movie were replaced with new music.
Master System/Game Gear version
This version was developed by SIMS and published by Sega, and released in 1994. The game is basically the same on both systems, except for the screen size. Gameplay in much of the game resembles Flashback: The Quest for Identity or Prince of Persia.
On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the Mega Drive version of Aladdin a 35 out of 40. The game was awarded Best Genesis Game of 1993 by Electronic Gaming Monthly. They also awarded it Best Animation. The game was reviewed in 1994 in Dragon #211 by Jay & Dee in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Both reviewers gave the game 5 out of 5 stars. Mega placed the game at #12 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time. The SNES version sold over 1.75 million units worldwide.