M y kids have Aladdin and Jasmine dolls, they have plastic figures of Abu the monkey, Jafar the Grand Vizier, Lago the parrot and even the magic carpet! And in order to keep reliving the magic of Disneyís movie Aladdin, we had to get the video as well. No wonder Iím always broke.
You have to hand it to the Disney conglomerate, they sure know how to wring every last buck out of a good thing. Aladdin the movie was simply great, so it was only a matter of time before Aladdin the computer game made its appearance. It arrived in early 1995 and is now about 18 months old. Despite not being a recently released title, I felt I had to give Aladdin a test run because of the enjoyment my family and I got from another Disney film adaptation for the computer, The Lion King (reviewed in November 1995). Sadly, Aladdin didnít match up to The Lion King, but nonetheless it is still a very entertaining game for the kids.
As you might expect, Aladdin draws heavily from the movie, but not to the extent that it tries to replicate the filmís storyline. The games takes most of the characters, some of the situations and a little of the music to provide you with ten levels of arcade fun. The game pits Aladdin against Jafar (and his endless number of palace guards), in a quest to rescue the beautiful Princess Jasmine, imprisoned in Jafarís palace.
The game begins in the Agrabah market where Aladdin must dodge pits of hot coals, avoid Palace Guards and knife throwing jugglers. Next Aladdin makes a short excursion into the desert where the burning sands and vicious snakes provide plenty of challenges. Back to Agrabah, Aladdin takes to the rooftops, swinging on clothes lines, climbing flag poles and ropes until finally coming face to face with Razoul, Captain of the Guard. If you make it past him you will need to steer Aladdin through the spikes and traps of Jafarís dungeon. No time to stop there and its on to the Cave of Wonders. Aladdin has to tangle with cunning Shiva statues (you know, Shiva with the many arms) which is only the opening act for the Shiva Monkey! Like the movie, Aladdin must eventually escape from the Cave of Wonders which crumbles around him and fills up with rivers of molten lava. Enter the magic carpet and what a ride. Dodge waves of lava and boulders to find a way out. Itís then on to the palace to fight more guards, take care of Lago the parrot (acting more like a stool pigeon) and free Abu. The finale pits Aladdin against Jafar in a final showdown. If you make it to the end, the beautiful Jasmine awaits.
Along the way you must collect a beggarís treasure of stuff. Apples are important because throwing them at your opponents is as good as hacking at them with a scimitar - they disappear (personally I prefer the later approach). The snake-charmerís flute is important in order to activate magic ropes and with a collection of gems, Aladdin can buy lives from the market peddler. The Black Lamp is a sort of Persian hand grenade and collecting two scarab beetle pieces is the only way to access the Cave of Wonders. The most important bit of kit is, of course, the Genieís Lamp in the Cave of Wonders With it, Aladdin has special magic powers that Jafar is eager to have for his own.
Put it all together and you get a rollicking good game with plenty of surprises, delightful graphics, good sound and heaps of fun. The seven to ten year olds will love it, and it provides a nice change of pace from the current raft of gory shoot Ďem ups.
Format: 2 x 3.5 disks
Manufacturer: Disney and Virgin
Price: RRP $69.95. For the month of September, BitStorm in the Canberra Centre will sell Aladdin to PCUG members on presentation of a current membership card for $59.95.
Classification: Suitable for 6 years and over.
System Requirements: As a minimum Aladdin requires a 386DX-33 Mhz, 4 Mb of RAM and most importantly 570K of base memory, VGA video card, 5Mb hard disk space, sound card and joystick.
(Out of a possible maximum)
Disney games are always rich in colour and design. And why not, with all those animators sitting around between movies with nothing to do, churning out a few computer games should be childís play. From the streets of Agrabah to the Sultanís Palace, the graphics are great.
To be honest, the sound effects arenít all that great but then what can you expect when the game fits onto two 3.5 inch disks. When was the last time you bought a game that ran completely in 5Mb. The music is better and tailored from the movie to suit the game.
Aladdin reminds me of that venerable favourite, Prince of Persia, except that the game play in Aladdin has considerably less cerebral challenge. Even so, getting Aladdin to climb ropes, swing across clothes lines, leap about in caves of hot lava and slash all manner of bad guys with his scimitar, makes for some pretty agile joystick work. My biggest complaint is the lack of a save feature that will allow you to turn the machine off, in order to come back another day. The game contains benchmarks at each level so that you donít have to start at the beginning all the time, but turn the machine off, and its back to the dusty streets of Agrabah from where the game begins.
I can guarantee that the seven to ten year olds love this style of game and Aladdin is no exception judging by the hours my tribe spend playing it. As with all arcade style games, the kids become transfixed to the screen and hold a death like grip on the joystick. My solution is a quick squirt to the back of the neck from a spray bottle filled with cold water.
Aladdin flashes his sword around a lot and throws apples at people who then disappear in a puff of magic. When Aladdin receives a fatal blow you get this really cute picture of the Genie holding him up while Abu the monkey fans him with the magic carpet. The game has lots of action but there is no violence to be concerned about.
The game comes with quite a fat booklet. I thought I was in for a major read until I realise it is the same nine pages of instructions repeated in about seven different languages. The book is essential because the game is copy protected using words from selected pages, which need to be typed in at the beginning of the game. Some outdated ideas take a long time to die, donít they?
Ease of Installation:
Well its not often I give up, but I have to tell you that trying to get this Aladdin to run under Windows 95 was just impossible. I tried all the things that I knew and could not make the sound run properly. I donít confess to being an expert, so some of you may have better luck than me. All I can say is, be prepared for a lot of fiddling around. If you are still operating a Windows 3.x machine then you shouldnít have as much problem running Aladdin in DOS mode.
Value for Money:
With an eye to Christmas and provided you can overcome the difficulties of setting this game up under Windows 95, I would recommend this game as a great gift for December.
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