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The Lion King is a video game based on Disney's popular animated film. The title was published by Virgin Interactive in 1994, and was released on SNES, NES, Game Boy, PC, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Amiga, Master System and Game Gear. (The NES and Master System versions of the game were never released in North America.) It followed Simba's journey from a young carefree cub to the battle with his uncle Scar as an adult.
The game is a side-scrolling platform game, with the controlled character having to leap, climb, run and descend from platform to platform. There is an exception during the level The Stampede, where Simba is running towards (or in the NES and Game Boy versions, running with the camera looking straight down on top of him) the camera dodging wildebeest and leaping over rocks.
In most versions of the game two bars appear on the HUD. To the left is the roar meter, which must be fully charged for Simba's roar to be effective. To the right is the health bar which decreases when Simba is hurt. At the bottom left of the screen is a counter showing how many lives Simba has remaining. Health can be restored by collecting bugs which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some rare health-damaging bugs also exist.
The player controls Simba (first as a cub, then later as an adult) in the main levels and either Timon or Pumbaa in the bonus levels.
Cub Simba can roar, jump on enemies and roll. All three are used to combat enemies and have different effects. Rolling can also be used to access hidden areas and dodge attacks.
Adult Simba is stronger, can slash and maul, and he can throw instead of defeating his enemies by jumping on them. He also has a more formidable roar, but can no longer roll.
Timon and Pumbaa
During the course of the game, there are two bonus stages. In the first bonus stage, players control Pumbaa, eating bugs dropped by Timon without letting any good ones touch the floor. In the second bonus stage, players control Timon, searching the area for bugs within a time limit. Both will end prematurely if they come into contact with a bad bug.
The sound and graphic quality of the game varied greatly due to the differing capabilities of the consoles. On the MS-DOS version, sound quality varied greatly depending on the sound hardware present on the PC and how the game is configured, as the MS-DOS version requires the installed sound card to be selected from a list using a separate utility that ships with the game.
The Amiga version omitted the Can't Wait to be King level, the bonus levels and the cutscenes, presumably to save disk space as the media was presented on floppy disks. The music for some levels was also remixed slightly differently. However, the MS-DOS version was also shipped on 3 floppy disks, but included the complete game, and has exactly the same music as the Super Nintendo version on supported hardware.
The Windows 3.1 version relied on the WinG graphics engine, but a series of Compaq Presarios weren't tested with WinG, which caused the game to crash while loading. This had notably affected Microsoft, who had shipped the game with one million Compaq machines. The crashes caused game developers to be suspicious of Windows as a viable platform and instead many stuck with MS DOS. To prevent further hardware/software compliance issues the rendering library Direct X was created. This also lead to the Windows 95 port of Doom to try and regain developers' faith in Windows.
There exsits a pirate NES version by Super Game. The pirate port features much better graphics and controls than the official version, doesn't ommit the Timon animation in the beginning of each level and keeps the "Can't Wait to Be King" name for level 2, whereas the official version calls it "The Mane Event". The pirate port also got a sequel - "The Lion King III: Timon and Pumbaa", that enables playing as Simba, Timon and Pumbaa.
Graphics and sound
The Sega Genesis version of the game has vocals in the background music missing if compared to the Super Nintendo version. This is most notable in the Elephant Graveyard and Stampede level, as well as on the title screen. However the cutscene speech are intact. The MS-DOS version also has vocals in the background music missing if the audio system is configured for Ad-Lib sound due to MIDI limitations. However, the vocals are audible if the game is configured for SoundBlaster sound.
The Lion King received mostly positive reviews, including an 8/10 from Electronic Gaming Monthly, and sold well, including 1.27 million units of the SNES version in the United States. However, it receives criticism from players due to its difficulty. Gameplayers wrote on their November 1994 issue that "even on the easy setting, the game is hard for an experienced player".
- ↑ Amiga review on MobyGames
- ↑ Kushner, David (2003). Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created An Empire And Transformed Pop Culture. Random House. 89. ISBN 0375505245.
- ↑ US Platinum Videogame Chart. The Magic Box. Retrieved on August 13, 2005
- ↑ Sega-16 review (Genesis)
- ↑ Video Game Critic review (SNES)