The Lion King was an embarrassingly large part of my childhood. The movie came to theaters when I was 8 years old and it was, without a doubt, the greatest thing I had ever seen; easily casting all other Disney movies aside. To this day, it stands as one of my all time favorite non-Pixar Disney movies. I can recite the film verbatim (of course, anyone from my generation who insists they can’t is a dirty liar). My best friend and I re-enacted the entire movie every day on the playground after school, switching roles when necessary. I was always Simba and Scar, while she played the parts of Nala and Mufasa. My sister and I had all the toys, the soundtrack, the t-shirts, and she and I played the video game for most of that summer. It was awesome.
I definitely recall beating the Lion King as a child, which is surprising because Chip did not. When he confessed this to me, I (being the modest, loving wife that I am) gloated endlessly about how awesome I had been at it. After playing the game again as an adult, I’m pretty sure I actually didn’t beat it and that the recollection was just my pride overwriting the failures of my past. However, I won’t blame myself for this. No, I’m going to blame the game for this. That might sound like a cop-out, but it’s true and (being a loving, obedient husband) Chip agrees. The difficulty of this game comes from its design flaws. It is a perfect illustration of why older games are simply not as engaging to a wider market as modern games.
First, there is the unforgiving nature of a set number of continues, which is more frustrating than it is rewarding. If the player dies more than three times during the game — the ENTIRE game– then they are sent all the way back to the start. The hit detection wasn’t great, which lead to a number of really frustrating mis-steps. There was little I found more infuriating than being on my last life, watching in horror as Simba’s entire front half sailed unobstructed through a large portion of a giraffe’s face to his watery demise.
All things considered, The Lion King is not a terrible game, it just isn’t a very sympathetic one. The platforming (when it isn’t being dodgy) is really fun. The limited number of “lives” is really what ruined it. I don’t really have the patience or enthusiasm to keep restarting a game if I die too much. If I had endless amounts of free time, like a child for instance, I could easily see myself losing a day to this game. So this is certainly a great game for kids, if you don’t want to see them for a couple of days.