I am sure most people remember the summer of 1994. This was the year that the blockbuster animated feature "The Lion King" took the world by storm. With its massive success in the theaters, as well as VHS sales, it was only right that there be a video game made for it.
Welcome to the Lion King section of Final Fantasy Kingdom. I know this is perhaps the furthest title covered by myself, but this one has a special place for me. Both lovingly, as well as hated.
The Lion King is my favorite animated feature of all time. There are a good many great ones, but there is only ONE Lion King. When it was released, it saw the release of a video game version for the SNES and Sega Genesis systems. I of course ran right out and bought my copy of the game. I was mesmerized by the shear beauty of the game at first. The scenery and detail was just stunning. The colors were great, and boasted some graphics that, for the time, were marvelous. What I did not expect was the overwhelming difficulty. I figured that being it was The Lion King, it would be garnered a more kid orientated game. And after playing the games I had to that point, I considered myself to be able to beat this one easily...I was wrong.
The game proved to be a challenge and then some. And after that it was even more challenging. It took me about 3 weeks to finally get to the jungle stage. It was there that I encountered "The Waterfall of logs". And like so many others, that is where my game ended. I got so frustrated after spending about an hour on those logs to find I had moved less than an inch up, that I threw the controller at the TV. My Mother made me get rid of the game. I was so disappointed with the fact that a simple platform game had me whipped. It was scarring I assure you. (Not really, but it sounds good huh?)
Fast Forward to 2005, and the release of Kingdom Hearts II. Once again, the great Pride Lands have made their way into the video game world. It was then I thought back tot The Lion King, and wondered if I could now beat it. I could never find an emulator that worked right, nor could I find a actual ROM of the game. So I let it slide silently out of my mind for another couple of years. A few weeks ago, for some reason, I was looking through some roms, not even thinking about the game, when I came across it. My old friend was sitting there, taunting me to play it again. So I did.
Believe it or not, I still have not defeated the game. I do not know what it is about this title, that even after over 14 years have passed, but I still cannot beat it. This time though, I did get passed that lousy waterfall, and all the way to the end. Enough to get what enemies there were, maps of the different stages, and screenshots of this and that. So I decided to place it in Final Fantasy Kingdom as "The most difficult platform I have ever played".
The game itself is very similar to the movie, in the different stages follow the different scenarios in the film. Such as there is a section where Simba must make his way through with the help of the animals from his fantasy of when he is king. The theme song is playing in the background. There is even a level, where you have to dodge the stampeding Wildebeests, as they charge down he ravine.
Graphically, the game is pretty good. The character sprites are very much like the actual characters from the movie. The backgrounds are simply amazing, even now. They are lush, detailed, and most are rich in colors of all kinds. There are few enemies in the game, less than a handful, but they are also well detailed. There is small voicing in the game, such as Simba saying "Cool", when he gets a bug, or "Ouch" when he is hit. There are small, what would be considered cut scenes, between several of the stages, that are parts of the actual story line. This was a major rarity in the time of the SNES. That said, they are not the cut scenes people of today are expecting from a game. Still it is one of the first games to provide both voicing and cut scenes in a game. Most of the voicing was done by the original character voices from the film, such as Johnathon Taylor Thomas providing young Simba, and James Earl Jones providing Mufasa.
The story, is non-existent, in terms of the game. But there is little need of one, since it follows the movie very well. You are in control of Simba, as he travels through different points in the story of the movie. After you pass the jungle level, you will then take control of the adult Simba.
The music of the game is alos taken form the movie, and is done quite well in the game. Through each level, you are given a different score from the film. The sound is of great quality for the SNES, and is one of the better sounding games on the system.
Overall, this is a tough game, even 14 years after its first release. If you can find a copy of this game, I would suggest getting a hold of it, and seeing how far you can get. Don't worry about being laughed at for playing it. Most who are laughing...are actually the ones who could not beat it.