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The Lion King

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Reviewed by Jacob Ingraham Disney's The Lion King appeared in theaters in 1993, and was hailed as the best animated feature ever. The grammy-winning music was at the head of it's class. The beautiful animations stunned movie watchers. The deep storyline even won praise from almost every film critic in the US. Guess what? The same goes for the game. The Lion King is a side-scroller that takes place in two parts; the first with Simba (the main character, and the son of the king of Africa's Savanah)as a little furball; scratching hyenas with his tiny claws, rolling entire porcupines over with a single roar, and petrifying small lizards with a tiny little roar. The second part has Simba all grown up; tossing cheetahs off the screen, pouncing on hyenas, and petrifying small monkeys with a really big roar. What this adds up to is intense play that no SNES owner should be without.

Graphics 9.7 out of 10

The graphics are just plain incredible. The screens were hand-drawn by the same Disney animators who did the movie, and are packed with color. The animation is so crisp and clear, you would swear you were watching a cartoon. The only gripe I had was a constant graphical jump when you used the toss, and the cut scene when you get hit was a little out of place, but otherwise the graphics are flawless.

Music and Sound 10 out of 10

I used to scoff at the concept of a sound test. I thought, why would anyone want to hear that tinny stuff they call "music" when they didn't have to? Of course, my position has changed since I've played this. The programmers took the tunes for the game straight out of the award-winning soundtrack, and managed to digitize it without altering the content (that much). Sure, the music is looped, but those loops are at least two minutes long (a lot longer than anything else when it was released). Simply put, gamers will be enthralled at the gorgeous music, and non-gamers will be amazed this is a video game. And don't get me started on the sound effects! Somehow, the programmers were able to fit at least a dozen samplings of spoken text. They even managed to keep in the chorus for the opening fanfare. Keep in mind this is no fancy N64 game, but a '93 Super Nintendo game.

Game Challenge 10 out of 10

THIS GAME IS HARD! I own about 45 games, and this is the hardest I have ever played. Final Fantasy 3 was an overnighter, and Donkey Kong Country 2 took me four hours the first time through. Even most of the N64 titles are cakewalks compared to this. Did you think Gem the Jeweler in Illusion of Gaia was tough? You'll never get past the Gorilla in the last baby level. Did Turok's platforms have you stumped? Prepare to get scorched in the lava level. And this is a side-scroller! The jumps are supposed to be easier. Take my word, they are not.

Game Play-Fun 7.5 out of 10

The game's control has it's ups and downs. It gives a very good level of control, however, some of the moves are very erratic, namely, the pounce and the toss. The pounce is executed by jumping onto an opponent and pressing slash when you land. The computer requires the timing to be precise. That's okay. What isn't okay is that there is a computer processing time during jumps. This means that if you miss the correct time by a split-second, you just stand there, and your opponent inflicts major damage on you. It's not as bad as the toss, however. You execute this move by leaning into a guy, holding the directional pad towards the creature, and pressing the maul button. Unfortunately, sometimes the computer thinks you are to far away (which you aren't) and executes the maul. The maul is the weakest move in the game, and the toss is the only way to defeat Scar, the end boss. See where I'm going with this? Just imagine: You go up to toss Scar off Pride Rock, to finally beat this game, and you do a move suitable only for whacking bats. The feeling is not pleasant. Despite all this, there is fun to be found in The Lion King. The levels, although mostly linear, is fun to play. Swinging on sets of poles provide a true energy rush. And roaring at pesky monkeys has never been so satisfying. They are simple joys, the best kind. If you overlook the two previous paragraphs, it would get a perfect score. Separately judged, gameplay would get a 6 and fun would get a 10.

Frustration

This game is extremely frustrating. The lava level is nearly unbeatable, and The Return's non-linear play is extremely confusing with out a map. The second baby level is nothing but trial and error and jumping skill, and the waterfall in Hakuna Matata is just plain ANNOYING!

Replayability 4 out of 10

This doesn't really hold much in the terms of replay value. After you beat it the first time, you only really come back for the sound effects and to marvel at the graphics, or to get a better score in the Game Boy-worthy bonus levels. Not to say that's a bad thing, since the graphics and music are so great, and the bonus levels are slightly addicting, but it just doesn't seem to be enough. Also, there are only about 10-15 levels. While they are quite big, they hold very few secrets. There is only about one secret area for every three levels. They also are very poorly hidden. A seasoned player will never come back to find secrets, since they will have found everything on the first try. Trust me on this. As if this wasn't enough, most of them have hardly anything in them. The list goes on..... When a games levels have virtually no replay, it's up to the secrets to draw a player back to the game. The programmers apparently forgot that, and the game has suffered accordingly.

Game Value 9 out of 10

BUY IT! As I said before, this is a game no SNES owner should be without. Just know you won't be playing it much after the first time through, although you will come for the music. Trust me on this: You will not be disappointed.

Overall 9.1 out of 10

This game is a mixed bag. It's aesthetics ranks among the highest for the Super Nintendo, but has little/no replay value. It is an incredible joy to play, yet the controls are a little slippery. The challenge will prevent it from being completed a day after you got it, but you're not going to be coming back for a long time. The music is completely deserving of the Disney name, yet that same name is going to be the turn off for many older gamers. Yet the fact remains that The Lion King is a fun title, and a classic to boot. It deserves to be added to any video game collection.


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