We’re about to enter in an era of people who will be arguing about which is better: The new, live-action Disney’s Aladdin, or the 1992 animated classic, but this isn’t the first heated dispute surrounding the beloved feature film, far from it. Since the ’90s, players have engaged in heated debates over the definitive Disney’s Aladdin video game: The one developed and published by Capcom for the Super Nintendo, or the title developed by Virgin Interactive and published by Sega for the Genesis.
Whether it’s loyalty to a brand from the days of the great Console Wars, or someone preferring one or the other having played both, there never seems to be a solid answer on which game is better. Breaking things down into categories like graphics, music, difficulty and authenticity to the source material, it’s time to determine which Disney’s Aladdin game comes out on top once and for all.
While neither are far from bad looking games, there’s no denying that Aladdin on the Sega Genesis is the better looking title. Capcom were wizards with the Super Nintendo console and their take on the material has aged incredibly well, but Disney’s Aladdin on the Sega Genesis was one of those games you saw on commercials on TV once upon a time that made you feel jealous of people who owned a Genesis if you only ever had a Super Nintendo.
The animation for Aladdin on the Genesis was in part handled by Disney’s animation studio and watching the title character move is still a sight to behold, even today. Both games capture the essence of the film, but everything from the characters, animation and backgrounds in the Genesis game make you feel like you’re playing the film.
POINT: Sega Genesis
Once again this is a case where neither are bad, and while the Super Nintendo games does a fine job capturing the Arabian Nights feel of the film, its soundtrack is nowhere near as authentic to the film as the Sega Genesis game. It’s not until half way through the game that you hear recreated songs from the film in the Super Nintendo game: “Friend Like Me” in the odd stage where you’re in the Genie’s lamp, and the only other song is “A Whole New World,” which plays during one of the more boring stages where all you’re doing is flying around and collecting gems.
On top of having its soundtrack composed by Tommy Tallarico, who was a master in making the Genesis sing, Disney’s Aladdin on the Sega Genesis takes its soundtrack almost exclusively from the film as early as the first stage where you hear a recreation of “Prince Ali.”
POINT: Sega Genesis
This comes down to a matter of opinion on how you like your classic 16-bit games, but Disney’s Aladdin on the Sega Genesis is just too tough, and not in a fair way. Especially for the target audience at the time. The levels are highly detailed, but that comes at a cost of not knowing exactly what is a platform sometimes, objects blocking your view so you can’t see, cheap deaths, and a difficulty wall so high in the Cave of Wonders stages that many won’t ever see the back half of the game without the use of cheats or just simply watching a video online.
In the Cave of Wonders level you have to make very precise jumps, some where you can’t even stop to catch a breath because you’re getting chased by a boulder, and death means going all the way back to the start. This is then followed by a level where you’re getting chased by lava while you fly on the Magic Carpet and have to make very quick, Turbo Tunnel from Battletoads split-second dodges.
Whether you land on either the side of the SNES or Genesis version, some common ground can be found in the fact that both games feature a brutal stage where you have to escape a massive wave of lava while escaping the Cave of Wonders.
Overall, though the SNES game is challenging, but fair, like a lot of Capcom’s Disney licensed games and there’s a much greater chance you’ll be able to make it the end of it without outside assistance. Aladdin feels very slippery to control in the Super Nintendo game with a few unfair deaths happening from him stumbling off a ledge to his death.
It’s much easier to decipher what is or isn’t something you can jump on in the SNES game and it’s also easier to navigate overall. Again it comes down to how you like games from this era, but no one can deny that more people will see the credits of Disney’s Aladdin on the Super Nintendo than the Sega Genesis.
POINT: Super Nintendo
Disney’s Aladdin on both the Sega Genesis and SNES is an action platformer so the way in which Aladdin himself interacts with the world is largely the same. Aladdin can run, jump and throw apples at enemies in both games, but in the Sega Genesis game you get a sword for close, melee strikes. There’s no doubt that in the school yard arguments about which is better, someone threw out the fact that the SNES game didn’t have a sword, but in many ways it’s not something that is authentic to the character.
The only point in the film in which Aladdin wields a sword is at the end and even then it’s quickly swatted out of his grasp. Aladdin survives on his understanding of the streets of Agrabah and parkour like movement, and that’s largely how the character controls in the Super Nintendo game. While Aladdin jumping on the head of palace guards like Mario is by no means a better solution than giving him a sword, the game as a whole is all about fast movement, jumping, climbing and swinging and thus you feel more like Aladdin.
Where the Super Nintendo fails to capture the spirit of the film is in how the game is designed. You start off in the streets of Agrabah, then your whisked to the Cave of Wonders, make an odd pit-stop in the Genie’s lamp, explore a pyramid in search of Abu, which isn’t in the film at all, before going back to the palace to face Jafar.
The Genesis game, on the other hand, does a terrific job of letting you play the movie, and while it too has a weird stage set in the Genie’s lamp — in both cases this was probably done as a way to play the “Friend Like Me” song from the film — the rest of the game is authentically Aladdin. It too starts in Agrabah, but then you have to play a stage where you’re tasked with escaping the dungeon where Aladdin first encounters Jafar in disguise which is brushed off in a cut-scene in the SNES game.
The rest of the game plays close to the film, tasking you with finding the lamp, escaping the crumbling Cave of Wonders before returning to Agrabah to confront Jafar. Though the SNES game does a far better job of making the player feel like Aladdin, the Genesis game let’s you play the film.
POINT: Sega Genesis
With a three-to-one victory, Disney’s Aladdin for the Sega Genesis wins as the best 16-bit Aladdin experience. Agree or disagree with our arguments and final decision? Let us know your favorite Aladdin game via our social media platforms.
Images owned by Capcom and Virgin Interactive; featured image courtesy of Disney.