Saturday, June 30, 2012

Retro Gaming: SEGA Genesis' The Lion King (1994)

In addition to reorganizing my comic book collection this summer, I have also been trading in for credit some of the video games that I either no longer 1) play or 2) have a functional gaming console on which to play them. Despite weaker graphics (by today's standards) there are a number of games from  previous "generations" of game play that during their heyday in my system of choice were just plain "awesome."

Despite currently enjoying a XBOX360 system, and anticipating the XBOX720 or Ocho or whatever it's being teased as this month, as I packed away our old generation original XBOX, I became nostalgic about some of the games; not nostalgic like weeping, but nostalgic like "that was a cool game play experience!" or "I remember when I played this!" Perhaps not surprisingly, some games serve as reminders of yesteryear, much like songs remind one of the "old days." The bonus is that sometimes they also were well-designed or executed gaming experiences.

Similarly, as I stopped by my local video game store, and saw the ancient systems from years (and seemingly lives) gone by on display such as the Atari 2600, Sega, and Dreamcast I recalled some of the cool games I'd forgotten about. As a way of recapturing some of that magic I thought I'd briefly relive the magic of some games that though being somewhat out of favor,  were nonetheless a joy to play--great worlds to get pulled into--by retroactively reviewing and considering some older games.

Nearly 18(!) years ago, I somehow came into possession of a Sega Genesis gaming system. It's been a while, but I'm pretty sure my brother bought it for my daughter (who was 3 going on 4 at the time) and I. Well, mostly me.  Honestly, despite the responsibility (wife, children, etc.) I was pretty much a kid myself, playing at being a father, so we would often play some of the games together, most notably, and memorably, Disney's The Lion King.

As you can tell from the clip above culled from the many available on Youtube, the music and graphics were very similar to those of the film and excellent by the standards of the time. The game play was old school basic (claw, jump, roll) and the experience was very much like an arcade style game except you didn't need to pump quarters into it a 'la Ms. Pac Man. At the height of Lion King-mania, what child (and doting parent) wouldn't enjoy playing this game (especially after having seen the movie on VHS about 1,000 times)?

This "wide screen" stampede level took ma-a-a-a-ny attempts before we made it through unscathed!
The game included the voices of all the film's memorable characters: Timon, Pumbaa, Lion-o Simba, and even Skar and his hyena sidekicks. This was pre-Internet (or at least pre-at-my-house Internet), so there were no easily accessible cheat codes, so when you "died" 3 times, you began all the way back at the beginning.

Come to think of it, I think we did make it to the final boards...
Getting through an entire game was a challenge, and even set on the lowest level of difficulty, I recall doing the first board or two multiple times as we made our way to the higher (and by that time infinitely more interesting) levels that followed. I can't recall if we ever really finished the game, but I do fondly remember spending lots of hours talking and laughing while playing Disney's The Lion King game together.

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