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Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Great Debate: SNES vs. Genesis - Aladdin

            Console Wars. The very term has been around for a long time, and has spawned an ongoing debate about all the various home console systems that have flooded the market since at least the late 1970's. For me it was Sega vs. Nintendo. Growing up you were either a Nintendo Kid or a Sega Kid. Most kids in my circle of friends were Nintendo Kids, as were most of our peers at our junior high school. Sure, there were a few Sega Kids mixed in, but it was primarily Nintendo that dominated the conversations at lunch and between classes.

            That being said, there were some game titles that were available on both systems, one of them being Disney's Aladdin. This movie-inspired game was available on both the Sega Genesis as well as the Super Nintendo. Each game was similar in that they each depicted characters from the animated movie, and each one roughly followed the movie's storyline. There were some differences between the two and, depending on what system you played it on, each game provided you with a slightly different experience. I will now dive a little deeper and examine each version, making note of both the similarities and differences between them.

            First, let me give you the run down on publishers and non-game play information. The Sega Genesis version was published by Virgin Interactive. The Super Nintendo version was published by Capcom. Both games hit the retail shelves in November of 1993, just in time for Christmas. Both games sold well, and were popular with the younger audiences they were targeted towards. The biggest difference came in the final sales numbers. The Sega Genesis version sold over 4 million copies worldwide, while the Super Nintendo only sold 1.7 million.

                                                                        Advantage: Sega

            Next we will examine the graphics found on each version. I understand that these types of comparisons are subjective, and that each person's tastes will differ slightly. While both systems used a 16 bit color system, Sega and the Virgin Interactive team had a licensing deal and were able to utilize the services of actual Disney Studio animators when they designed the characters and game animations. Nintendo did not have the same licensing, and instead made use of Capcom's existing license with Disney to produce all Disney games for Nintendo systems. The best way to really show the differences between each version is to show screen shots from each game for a side-by-side comparison. The pictures below all have the SNES version on the LEFT and the GENESIS version on the RIGHT.

Title Screens

Stage 1

More High Flying Fun - Stage 1

            After seeing the screenshots from each version side by side, I think that a slight edge has to go to the SNES version. The details in the shading and other little details are much better on the SNES version. Sure the Genesis version looks good, and the characters looks a little bit better, but overall the edge in the graphics are definitely in favor of the SNES.

                                                                        Advantage: SNES

            We will now examine the music and sound differences between each game. In all honesty neither game really stands out above the other one in terms of which one has the better musical score. Both versions have movie-inspired tunes, and both versions have songs that easily get stuck in your head.

                                                                        Advantage: Draw

            With the more subtle comparisons out of the way, we can finally get down to the main course: how each game plays. Both games are side-scrolling platform adventure games. Both versions have generally favorable control mechanisms, and both are loaded with non-stop action.
            The first major difference of note is the sword. The Genesis version provides two primary weapons, the apples, and a sword, while the Super Nintendo version only gives you an apple as your main defense mechanism. It's interesting that in the Genesis version the apples will actually kill the enemies, while in the SNES version, the apples only stun the enemies for a few moments (smaller enemies can be killed using an apple). If you want to kill the enemies in the SNES version, you have to jump on their heads, a maneuver that can sometimes be tricky.
            Another interesting difference is the presence of Abu the monkey. In the SNES version Abu follows Aladdin around obediently, doing nothing but filling a role as another NPC. By comparison, Abu is nowhere to be found in the Genesis version, save for the bonus games that you can unlock after each stage.
Where Am I? Hidden passages (Genesis) are not always apparent.
            Both versions, as mentioned are primarily side-scrolling platform games. There are some vertical elements mixed in where you need to traverse up and over walls or obstacles in order to reach the end of the stage. In the Genesis version there are also some hidden paths that lead to additional collectible items
(apples, jewels, heath, etc.). But sometimes trying to figure out where you can and can't go is difficult on the Genesis version. The game designers incorporated a lot structure in to the level designs, and it's not always obvious where the main path lies, or what can be used as a platform. The SNES version is a little easier to navigate, and the paths through each stage are a little more apparent.

Advantage: SNES

            When it’s all said and done, I have to lean towards the SNES version as having the better overall game play experience. As I was researching this article, I found myself wanting to play the SNES version more than I did the Genesis version.  Overall there is nothing wrong with the Genesis version, but the game is more fun on the SNES.

 Overall Winner:

            Weather you decide to play the SNES version or the Genesis version, you will be rewarded with one of the better games found on each respective system. Each one requires a lot of patience, and if you put in the effort you will be rewarded.