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Aladdin Vs Aladdin – The Ultimate Multiplat Face-Off

Back in the 90s there was one multiplat face-off that rattled school yards around the world – Aladdin. It’s a shame Digital Foundry wasn’t around…

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The SNES version and Mega Drive/Genesis versions were completely different games. Forget measuring the difference between 1440p and 1880p – this was two very different but still excellent games.

Both versions of the game will be included in a new release on the Disney classics pack, alongside The Jungle Book. But how have they aged? Which one is better?

Could it be possible 2021 will finally let us put this age-old fight to bed?

Aladdin Vs Aladdin

How different can two games based on the same IP be? Especially when they’re released simultaneously?

It’s a fascinating question and, alas, one that we’ve rarely ever tested. Sure, you occasionally get cross-gen titles that are different in order to take advantage of a new device’s higher processing power. But that’s about it.

Imagine a situation where you have Insomniac’s Spider-Man and Double Fine’s Spider-Man swinging head-to-head. Final Fantasy 16, only the Xbox version is developed in-house.

It would never happen today. The costs would be far too much, the drama too explosive. I understand it, but it doesn’t stop me being curious.

That’s exactly what happened with Aladdin. Two very good games so entirely different as to not really be comparable at all. They’re both platformers, that much is true. But even the specifics of that aren’t very solid.

Each does things very well and other things not so well… In that regard they complement each other very nicely.

SNES Vs Genesis

The Mega Drive/Genesis version isn’t strictly the same kind of platformer as the SNES version. It doesn’t have as tight controls, and by and large you’re stuck on the ground. Going from the start of a level to the end is more horizontal, and moving up a level just gives you more horizontal to explore.

The Genesis version, on the other hand, is a proper platformer. The controls are tight, the levels are better designed. And yet it falls down on the music. One of the greatest Disney soundtracks going, and there’s only the occasional hint of it in there.

That’s not a problem the Genesis version of the game has. It is spot on.

Both games are difficult, but the SNES version is fairer. The final level of the Genesis version is ridiculously unfair, and my hat goes off to anybody who has managed to do it without taking damage. That’s a Retroachievement, right?

It’s a cop-out as old as time (or nearly as old as me, anyway). There’s no definite superior version. I prefer the SNES version, a surprise for someone who only played the Genesis version as a kid. But there’s enough positives or negatives that either could take the top spot.

And that’s why it’s vital that Disney and every gaming company with a long history looks after its old titles. Releases like the Disney Collections not only give new audiences a chance to see old games, but give them a new life that most other official channels can’t manage to live up to.

And yes, that includes the new N64 service on Switch Online. Better available than not at all, right?

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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