Capcom's Aladdin experience is one jump ahead
It's time to be honest with ourselves and each other.
I came to this little piece about SNES Aladdin under the assumption it'd be a careful recommendation over the Genesis version – after all, I knew I preferred the SNES game, but Sega's offering has a lot of fans too and I wouldn't want to put them out. However, having played both games again, the SNES game most recently, I'm afraid I can't be that reasonable any more. The SNES version of Aladdin is not only superior to the Genesis version, it's superior by an order of magnitude. The level of quality and care in Capcom's SNES title is simply leagues ahead of the admittedly visually dazzling and movie-authentic efforts of Virgin Games. And if you disagree, I'm afraid you may be a malcontent of some description.
Nintendo players get an experience that's notably quieter – you could argue smaller, slower. It's a thoughtful, tight little platformer, less concerned with telling the story of the movie than offering a hyper-linear series of obstacle courses and interesting, athletic ways to get around them. Like in the Genesis game, Aladdin can run, jump and throw apples. However, in this version, he has no sword and apples merely stun, not kill. All enemies must be defeated by jumping on them, or in rare cases swinging into them. This gives it a very traditional feel, but the precise air control makes the action a real pleasure. The player can hit the R button to use a large rag as a parachute of sorts, allowing them to stay up high with real ease to the execution. It's a pleasure simply to move and leap.
There's an incentive to get good too; outside of finishing the game (which is admittedly easier than it should be), there are ten red gems hidden on each stage and these can be pretty well-hidden or demanding to reach. The reward for doing so isn't much to write home about but at least it's something!
At any rate, happy birthday, Aladdin games. Perhaps one day everyone will stop being silly and accept that the SNES game is the best one, but probably not. Console wars are in the blood.
See you next week for a Re(?)Consideration of the Sega Master System version, to complete this “Aladdin Trilogy”.