Ask anyone what Disney game from the 16-bit era is the best and the majority will answer, Aladdin. Developed and published by Virgin Games and based on the 1992 hit film of the same name. It was released for Sega Mega Drive/Genesis late 1993 and ported to several other systems soon afterwards. A massive success, it is the 4th best-selling game on the Mega Drive/Genesis to date.
Coming quite late in the Mega Drive/Genesis’ lifespan (the Sega Saturn would be released a year later), it stands out as one of the best looking and fun 2D platformers on the system.
Players take control of Aladdin (the monkey Abu in bonus levels) and play through locations from the film effectively following the story. From the streets of Agrabah, to the Sultan’s dungeons, to the Cave of Wonders and to an eventual final battle with Jafar in his palace. All areas of the movie are touched upon with some added additions like a level set inside the Genie’s lamp.
Sticking closely to the 2D platforming style, Aladdin can jump, climb and duck all while fighting off varied enemies using his scimitar and apples which he can throw. With a decent health bar, players will rarely die via enemies. Instead deaths come from the many traps and drops that litter the levels. Skill becomes a necessity especially once you reach the Cave of Wonders where the difficulty increases by quite a bit. However, this is when the game is at its most thrilling and the carpet ride escape is incredible even if it will result in a few pulled hairs. (Think THAT level in Battletoads).
Aladdin has a supply of lives and continues and more can be bought by giving gems to the travelling salesmen that appears in the movie. These gems are hidden throughout the levels but even more can be gained by finding Abu and Genie tokens. The Abu tokens send you to a bonus level where you play as the monkey dodging falling items while picking gems up. The Genie bonuses is a game of chance.
You’ll need these bonus levels just to get as many gems as you can because dying becomes really easy the further you make it into the game.
A massive amount of variety in the levels even if gameplay remains the same makes Aladdin a joy to play through. It’s never boring. The cartoon visuals leap off the screen and a fantastic soundtrack that includes most of the films songs makes it an absolute treat to play.
It still holds up almost 25 years later proving to be better then many modern 2D platformers.