No matter how old I get, The Lion King remains on the short list as one of my all-time favorite movies. With its winning story, excellent musical score and brilliant animation, The Lion King will remain a classic in my heart forever. But you didn't come here for a glowing movie review. You want to read about GAMES, right? Well I've got a game for you: The Hong Kong pirate game, The Lion King.
"Wait, a pirate game?" you may ask. "Don't you know that there exists an official Nintendo Entertainment System port?" Why yes, of course I do. But the 1995 Virgin Interactive game is total garbage. On the other hand, the unofficial pirate version of The Lion King is a surprisingly great game!
This version of The Lion King, created by Super Game, a Chinese developer, is interesting, as many regard it as superior to the officially-licensed Dark Technologies version. The official version had a number of shortcomings, and appeared as though it was rushed to meet a deadline. This Chinese version, oddly enough, seems to have a good amount of work in it.
The story is, not unlike the official version, rather complete. Simba starts as a cub in the Pridelands, and the story goes through his life, ending with a climactic final boss battle with Scar, Simba's evil uncle who took over Pride Rock. The story in the game is simple, but it gets the point across well enough. The only glaring fault in story is the glaring lack of the scene where Simba's father, Mufasa, is killed by a stampede, which was in all other official ports. At least this one has a proper final boss battle.
The gameplay is simple, yet does what it needs to do. You can jump and you can roar, although roaring is usually useless compared to a well-positioned jump attack. I will say the gameplay is, in general, very easy. Until the final stage, I had no trouble getting through the levels. I will say that a part in the second level (I Just Can't Wait to Be King) involving a monkey-tossing puzzle, tripped me up momentarily, but that was solved quickly. In the final level, there is a maze element, which had me confused for a few minutes, but other than that, the game was very easy. The bosses are few and far between and never provide a challenge, which adds to the overall lack of difficulty.
The music is perhaps the best part of the game. Although slightly bastardized, each stage has a chip tune rendition of the scene that stage represents. The track for "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" is as cheerfully optimistic as the original, while the rendition of "Be Prepared" sends chills down my spine. The songs aren't perfect, but they sound close enough to make me happy.
Perhaps the only downfall is the length. Make fun of the Call of Duty series' average length, but at least they are longer than this NES game. I completed The Lion King in twenty minutes. I suppose I am happy that Super Games didn't pad the game out with needless filler or repeating layouts, but I believe they could've made it longer than the time it takes to install Heavy Rain to my PlayStation 3. Couple that with a lack of difficulty, and you have a game with zero replayability.
Super Game's version of The Lion King is a quick, fun experience to play once while waiting for something else. With its low difficulty, short length and lack of replayability, it may seem like a definite miss. However, The Lion King isn't a bad game by any stretch of the imagination. It beats the official version by Dark Technologies right out of the park, with detailed graphics, semi-accurate music transpositions, and a (mostly) full story. However, just because the game is comparatively better doesn't excuse the fact that it's nowhere near the level of quality of the Game Gear port, not to mention the Super NES and Genesis iterations.