Welcome to the Platformer where we talk about games in an extremely amateur but fun way! This post is in regards to my Metroid (me) & Vania (girlfriend) series where I introduce my girlfriend to video games! We recently played The Lion King for SNES.
“Fun, childish Joy!”
The Lion King for SNES is a 2D platformer (woo represent) where you play through the life of Simba from a cub to a fully grown adult. This was one-off Vania’s favourite games as a child and I wanted to see if Nostalgia could get her involved in a game on her own. The nostalgia and fun appeal of the game kept her playing however the intentional frustrating difficulty implemented by the game developers meant that it was hard to get truly invested because it felt like you were being cheated, even with my help.
Vania and Me had so much fun playing this game from the beginning especially the second level. Why? Because the backing track was a faithful 16bit rendition of ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’. So as we were playing, we were singing along to the song (her better than me).
Not only did the level have the correct backing track but aesthetically it was bright, colourful and full of life just like in the movie. The level was a perfect recreation of the sequence from the movie and that identity is throughout the game.
The animations are smooth and ripped straight from a cartoon, the character designs are instantly recognisable. The nostalgia wasn’t just from the game but the movie as well. Each level is also creative as they each have a unique obstacle that you have to overcome. The second level had a puzzle were monkeys would throw you around the stage and the platforming would have you constantly interacting with animals, whether you were swinging off hippo’s tails or rolling down a Giraffe’s neck. Another level had you constantly defeating Hyenas in an elephant graveyard in a way that it forces you to perfect your skills in defeating Hyenas, like a Lion. Even if it did come with a ridiculous difficulty spike. Later in the game, you are expected to climb a waterfall, which again, very fun and creative but if previously there was a difficulty spike, this was a wall. This is where the game started to lose us.
This is harder than I remember. I have to leave it and come back another time.”Vania about to snap a controller in half.
The Lion King for SNES comes from an era of games where developers would increase the length of the game by intentionally making it unfairly difficult so players would have to replay certain areas of the game again and again. I knew this so decided to play this game on an emulator because when a collection of classic games come out, they always allow save states. So during the second level, the player is expected to ride an Ostrich and the timing required to jump over the obstacles are impossible to get right on the first attempt.
So we failed, and failed, and failed again. We were getting frustrated then I explained how the save states worked and we forcefully got through that area which we would have anyway, we just took away the frustration of replaying areas of the level for 100th time. In that same level, you have to swing on Hippo’s tails as discussed before. What I didn’t mention is that the timing and precision required is so small that it feels unfair because you would swear that you landed the jump but it would not register. The Hyenas were fun to defeat but that’s because we could start from the beginning of the fight after failing so we kept trying but if we attempted to do it without save states it would have taken all day.
No area was worse than the stampede. Vania had to start and restart this level over 50 times to a point where she resulted in saving after every minute and moment of rest. There is no warning to indicate when the Wilderbeasts would appear or any suggestion from what direction so it wasn’t testing your reaction and skills but instead your memory.
The Lion King is definitely a product of its time but not because of the graphics as it is usually but because of the unfair difficulty and even with the help of save states it still feels like you’re constantly battling the developers to stay alive.
Overall this was a fun trip down memory lane for Vania as she enjoyed exploring the deep recesses of her brain and finding long lost memories. To my surprise, while I was at work I received a text asking me “How do you start Lion King?”. Ladies and gentlemen, I had a silly little smile of glee and I’m not ashamed, especially since she had done the stampede on her own! She loved the save state feature and the fact that she could save her progress whenever she wanted. As a game, we love playing it together because we took turns and took on the various challenges together which help keep the experience from being too frustrating. She would recommend this to everyone who loves the movie and would obviously play on her own as long as you play with save states.
This game showed that she is a fan of platformers even if they are a bit challenging so Super Meat Boy might be fun and maybe I can find another good licensed game. She loves Disney and she melted when she found out there is a level based on Nightmare before Christmas in Kingdom Hearts.
I’m glad she had a fun experience so next, I want to show her one of my most enjoyable experiences where you play as a border control agent trying to keep their family alive…
Thanks for reading! Feel free to like this post because it helps a tonne and you’ll me feel quite happy, and don’t be shy if you want to leave a comment.