Pavel Grinev a.k.a. Kinaman presents a Kinamania Productions production With support by www.U-SM.RU and Online-Dendy.ru In the last episode we learned that sometimes pirate games weren’t completely bad, and the pirates weren’t complete fags, after all. The Lion King game was an example that unlicensed ports could have much greater quality than official games, and not only Capcom and Konami, but pirate developers such as Super Game were able to create interesting and playable games too. The 8-bit opposition between major developers like Disney and pirate companies like Super Game wasn’t limited to The Lion King game only. About the same time a very similar story happened with another famous Disney production – Aladdin.
The question is where to play rtg slots online reviews and we have the best answer.., at Casinoslots South Africa. They reviewed the most trusted online casinos and best online casino games on the market. Let’s remember what games both sides had in their battle for customers back then, and what of these we got, owners of the best game console in the world – Aladdin’s story in the video game world began in 1994, when Virgin released a game developed by Disney Interactive based on the animated movie. The game was released for many platforms, ranging from Game Boy to PC, but became the most famous with its version for Sega Genesis, where it turned into one of definitive games of the platform. It didn’t get much fame on NES, being released in Europe only. In Russia, however… Almost every Dendy owner in 1990s knows this game.
The reason for this was, of course, video game industry of the great China, that released both hacked official and their own versions. In case with Aladdin it wasn’t just one game, but a whole series. You would expect that I’ll start the story from the Aladdin game that is familiar to everyone, that is considered one of the best pirate games, and that I mentioned in The Grey’s Elephant Curse. But no.
I’ll start the story from a game that not many people played, that got less known because of the other, famous game. I’m talking about a game released by the Super Game company, that made 8-bit version of the Genesis Aladdin game. The game was titled just Aladdin, but often named Super Aladdin on the cartridge labels. Just like in The Lion King, the Super word was a reference to the company. This game was very rare, and unlike other Super Game releases, was rarely pirated. I.e.
was rarely copied by other pirates. Most likely because most gamers who were familiar with pirate games associated Aladdin title with a different game. So probably in Russia of 1990s there were no more copies of the game than copies of Toy Story or Boogerman 2. Let’s check it out.
Being a Super Game port, the game starts with a nice intro and music from the movie, similar to The Lion King game that was reviewed in the previous episode. However, unlike it, after pressing the Start button you won’t begin the game right away. Before you’ll see a thing that is rarely seen in pirate games – the story. Here it is well illustrated even. It explains that the sultan’s adviser Jafar, the villain, plots to take over the kingdom using a magic lamp that is hidden in the Cave of Wonders.
To get the lamp he needs a person with pure heart, who is happen to be a street rat Aladdin. Well, you know the story. Just like the movie, the game starts on an Agrabah street, where Aladdin got caught by the guards yet again, and he have to flee. He armed with a sword and a number of apples that could be thrown into a foe’s head.
However, since there aren’t too many buttons on the Dendy gamepad, Select button is used to throw apples, which is not very comfortable. Having a sword that’s not very necessary, anyway. On the status bar at the bottom you can see the health meter, apple and crystal counters. The crystals are intended to buy lives from a local merchant. Sadly, he got lost in the porting process and is nowhere to be found in the game. Aladdin controls are mostly nice and responsive.
That proves yet again that Super Game releases are exception among other pirate games, that usually has really bad player controls. The same could be said about the graphics. Just like Simba’s, Aladdin’s animation is done pretty well, especially considering that his moves aren’t limited by run and jump. This is mostly true for other characters, however there are some strange exceptions. Like this guy who juggles with invisible knives.
Backgrounds are quite similar to the original Genesis version. Sadly we can’t appreciate them fully with our Dendy hardware because of the notorious green tint problem. In the Super Game’s Lion King the problem affected only splash screens and one level, but in Aladdin it is everywhere. As you can see, on my console it is pretty noticeable, but tolerable. It was much worse on most of other clones including Steepler ones.
Perhaps this is another reason why this version wasn’t pirated much. Alright. Like in the original, after the first level you could get into a bonus level, where Genie will offer you various items.
To get into the bonus level, you just need to find Genie’s face, not one that is vase-shaped, but a smiling face floating in the air. At the beginning of the game there is a screen that explains what is what for all the items. However, not all of them are in the game.
For example, we can see that if we find an Abu’s icon, we’ll get into his bonus level. But there is no Abu’s bonus in the game, because it was cut along with the merchant during porting. The screen was just redrawn from the Genesis version, with a spelling mistake in the Princess word.
You know what I’m now most pleased with in the game? Super Game weren’t trying to save cartridge memory during porting, but filled it with many nicely drawn pictures between the levels instead. Like the story ones, the level title screens. or the ‘level complete’ screen after every level, animated even. While every pirate company was trying to cut down their ports as much as possible, Super Game was spending resources to keep seemingly unnecessary graphics. However, thanks to this the atmosphere of the original movie was recreated in the game.
I think there is no other pirate game that did it. The second level is the Desert, where Aladdin have to find two halves of a magic beetle. Despite this is a desert, it is full of city guards.
As you know, they aren’t smart enough to make much trouble. A greater danger is the snakes that suddenly appear and trying to bite an Aladdin’s inappropriate place. The spikes on the ground aren’t easy to avoid either, because of the large hit box. Ground slopes often create an illusion that Aladdin walks mid air. Not very surprising, though, considering that in the third level, ‘Agrabah Rooftops’, Aladdin can not only walk mid air, but also fly using hypnotized ropes.
That’s rad. Until the third level, the original levels sequence here is kept almost 100%, unlike The Lion King game. So porting quality certainly being improved. Unlike previous levels, the third one finally has a boss.
Not even one, but two. The first one is a dwarf with knives. Pretty original, isn’t? He will attack Aladdin, rolling on the floor back and forth.
It is easy as pie to hit him, but quite difficult to jump over. That’s because of the large hit box that I mentioned earlier. It can register a hit even it may seem that Aladdin is not touching a foe. Anyway, eight sword hits, and he is done.
The second boss at the very end of the level is a guard that stands on a balcony throwing pots and knives It seems to be not very difficult to beat him too, but because the apples can’t reach him, the only effective attack here is to hit the knives so they will be reflected back to the guard. Here you realize that Aladdin can’t jump and use the sword simultaneously. More exactly, he can only attack when the jump button is released, but in this case he does not jump high enough to hit a knife. So, to beat the guard you have to plan your jumps precisely to make Aladdin reach the highest point of a jump at the exact time when a flying knife will be close to him, then press B to reflect it back.
I had to spent few lives to get used to it and get through the guard. Genesis version does not have such problem, so Super Game is to blame. I just said that the levels sequence in the game is kept almost 100%, but after completing the rooftops level, without any cutscenes, we get to a level named ‘Rugrid’, where Aladdin on the magic carpet flees away from the lava in the Cave of Wonders. Well, I can ignore the incorrectly spelled ‘Rug Ride’, but it is difficult to ignore the fact that three levels are missing.
In this version it is also heard on the Genie’s bonus, but I think, it fits to this level very well. To complete this ride, you have to do your best. The route is very difficult, especially near the end, when the speed is incredible. Oh, fuck. From all Dendy games, I can only compare this level with the Turbo Tunnel from Battletoads. It is very similar near the end, and it is just impossible to beat it from the first attempt too.
Why do I always compare games with Battletoads? The level is truly great, especially for a pirate game. If it won’t get worse, it would give odds even to the official game. Oh crap. Alright, hold on, I’ll beat you now. Yeah!
How could they made such a good game and end it so abruptly? It had everything that is needed. Good graphics, cool music, bonuses, cutscenes, diverse gameplay… Everything! And they just cut it in the middle to make everyone upset. Stop calming me down!
Get it out of my sight. Alright. Luckily, there are other Aladdin games for Dendy. So, after we seen the distressing pirate port, it is about time to see the official one. Just a moment. Surprisingly, in 1995, three months prior to the release of The Lion King, the same exact story happened again, and NMS Software released the official NES version of Aladdin by Virgin Interactive.
Yet again, in Europe only. Now take a guess, what version they decided to port? Of course this one. The Game Boy version was released in late 1994, initially in Europe only, with an interesting addition on the label, ‘Super Game Boy Game Pak’. It was intended for owners of the Super Nintendo who also had the Super Game Boy add-on, that allowed to play Game Boy games on the SNES.
The addition on the label meant that game could be painted into a set of predefined colors, rather than shades of black. This made the game to look almost on par with NES games. It may seem that since the developers choose to port this to the NES, it shouldn’t be too difficult. They would copy the ROM content, tweak some colors, and make the play area larger to fit the NES screen resolution.
Well… They tried. Now see the result for yourself.
This is the only official Aladdin game for the NES. Like I said, it was first released for other consoles, and only got to the NES in February 1995. So it is one of the ten latest official NES games ever released. So, after the very nice looking developers logo, title screen, and level screen, we see a cutscene, similar to the one from the pirate version.
What the heck it is all purple, including pictures of the Iago and Jafar – I just don’t get it. In the Super Game Boy version they had their own colors, see yourself. After porting it not only lost the colors, but also turned into all-purple.
This is a sign that the developers weren’t bothered too much. Now to the game. At first glance, the graphics and backgrounds looks good, but the characters appearance is just weird.
First, the white outline around all characters makes an impression that they all are cardboard cutouts. It was the same in the Game Boy version to make characters distinct over the backgrounds, while in the NES version it does not seem to have any reason. Second.
Why the hell the Genie’s has red face? I counted eight different colors on the level, and there is a blue among them. So why the heck they made it red? Or maybe… this is the evil Genie, the Jafar? Yes, this is it – game just started, and Jafar is the Genie already.
Alright, let’s stop jocking and get to the facts. In the Game Boy version of Aladdin, the source of the NES port, the story was present with nine levels with lots of cutscenes. Luckily, all the levels are there, and the game ends with battle with Jafar. However, in the NES version the developers from NMS gave up on the cutscenes starting from the second level. So besides the intro cutscene, you won’t get any hint what is going on.
and it remains unrevealed why the heck Aladdin gets into a desert, then a dungeon, then a cave. Next. Despite the gameplay looks pretty simple, an attempt to beat the game would bring you lot of headache with its sluggish controls. Do you remember my story about bad controls in Ghosts & Goblins? It is almost the same here.
The main reason that makes the game almost unplayable is that when you press B button to attack, Aladdin will perform an actual attack no less than a half second later. No matter be it a sword attack or an apple throw, it will always take a half of a second between pressing the button and attacking a foe. It is just like playing Kaillera with ping 100. The problem makes preventive attacks impossible.
Whenever you try it, Aladdin inevitably gets damage. I’m not even mentioned that just like the pirate version, switching between sword and apple attack is done with the Select button. However, in this version apples are much more effective than the sword, because attempting to get into close combat with the attack latency is like standing in front of Shao Kahn without holding the block button.
This is just lethal, slow but inevitable. The only thing that you can do is trying to keep a distance and attack foes with apples. However, there is not enough apples to beat most of the levels. Sooner or later you will have to get into close combat. And, do you know that is the most sad?
The Game Boy version didn’t have any problems with the controls. Sword attack there is instant, just like apple throw. I really don’t get this. This is Game Boy, a pocket console powered by a battery. With tiny cartridges, with slow 8-bit CPU. And this is NES!
Nintendo Entertainment System, a 8-bit colossus that works with a f….n’ TV! With giant cartridges, gamepads, and various add-ons. But the same game works on the NES f….n’ slower that here!
Does it make any sense? I truly can’t imagine how it could be possible to beat the game on the console with so unresponsive controls, and really have no idea how the developers managed to screw it up so much. There is simply no way to save your health points. You can’t do things without getting damage. When you jumping over the spikes on the fifth level, you’ll touch them inevitably.
When the bats attacking you on the sixth level, no matter how hard you trying to avoid them and defend yourself, they’ll get you. And when you trying to plan your jumps over the platforms precisely, Aladdin suddenly slips over the edge and falls into the lava. I have no slightest idea why this happens. You perform exactly the same movements, but one time Aladdin lands well, while other time he keep moving forward for a couple seconds. That makes things worse is lack of control on the height of Aladdin’s jump.
So, the developers supposed that the scene of the movie where Aladdin flees away from the lava in a 8-bit game should look like this: Not even like this. But like this. Give them the finger. Another thing that completes the picture perfectly is that all the background music in the game consist of just two songs, not counting the title one. You would expect that they play in turns, one then another.
But no way. The developers did an ingenious thing and used one song in the first four levels, and another in the last five. This diversity makes a lot of fun. Especially when I’m falling asleep while getting through the eight level, having a dream that I’m the king of the world. Finally, if someone is brave enough to cope with the damned controls and get through the whole game, an epic battle with Jafar, the most evil final boss of all times, awaits him in the end. He will… stand like a statue, waiting till you beat him with the apples.
That’s all that the official Aladdin game for NES have to offer. Yet another lousy attempt to make easy money off a famous brand with a crappy game. This, however, is certainly does not apply to the Game Boy version.
I played it with the Super Game Boy, really liked it, and beat the game from the second attempt. But this version… What is the reason that the developers were cutting down already simplified Game Boy versions while porting them to the NES, having an opportunity to improve them instead… I have no logical explanation for this and doubt it exist. The fact that the game was released in Europe only is pretty logical, though. By the way, you won’t believe, but in 1990s this version was seen here, on a pirate cartridge, of course, and was extremely rare.
Even more rare than the Super Game version. Comparing to that one it looks much more like a pirate game, by the way. The only advantage over the pirate version is that it has an adequate end on the story. Everything else is just thrash that does not even deserve attention. We get to the cherry on the cake, the game that every Dendy gamer associates with the Aladdin title.
The game that was so good that many gamers that were playing it back then, including myself, were shocked much later by the fact that it was a pirate production. Even now, in comparison with many official games, it still impresses how this masterpiece could be created as a bootleg. As you guessed, I’m talking about the Aladdin developed by Hammer Team for a pirate JY Company. Like the Super Game version, it was ported from a superior platform too, but unlike it, from the Super Nintendo instead of the Sega Genesis. The original SNES game was developed in 1993 by Capcom. In fact, it was the first video game adaptation of the Aladdin movie, because the Disney Interactive and Virgin version was released a year later.
The pirate NES version by JY was released in 1995. Early copies of it were looking pretty legitimate. They had these pretty unique boxes.
Besides a strange label in an unknown language, nothing spoiled its pirate roots. On the sides there is the elegant logo with a magic lamp, and a few screen shots at the back. Three of them are from the SNES version, and two other are from the movie. Surprisingly, the text on the box is not in the pirate’s native Chinese, but in the perfect and simple Japanese.
Don’t be fooled, though, as the whole text including the bar code, is copied from the box of the original Japanese Super Famicom version. Of course, it was barely seen here in this package, early copies were extremely rare. Most of copies we had were hacked many times, often cut down awfully, but even this didn’t changed the opinion of the Dendy gamers of 1990s that this game is a true gem of Dendy games, especially among pirate ones. So, the Aladdin game by JY Company, released in 1995. The first thing to remember is that in Russia in 1990s it was seen with completely chaotic numbering.
Besides the normal title, it was also called Aladdin 2, Aladdin 3, even Aladdin 4. It should be noted that it was rarely seen under the normal Aladdin title. As you can see, the game is completely different from the Genesis version. Our hero does not use sword here, demonstrating his remarkable acrobatic skills and using them against his foes instead. He still have the ability to throw apples, but in this game it could only stun the foes instead of killing them.
A very unusual thing for a pirate game is the perfect controls. Aladdin’s mobility and agility impresses with the fact that it works successfully with every foe, so unlike the other versions, you can plan all your movements precisely. Even more, things like bouncing off a foe after an attack are used throughout the game as a perfect way to overcome obstacles. For example, you jump on someone’s head and use the bounce to get to an otherwise unreachable place. Apple throws complete the picture perfectly. When you don’t have an opportunity to attack an enemy, you can stun him.
That will give you few seconds to get closer and knock him out. All this in a pirate game, dare I say. No lags whatsoever. Even Super Lion King would envy to these controls. The next reason why developers of the game deserve a lot of respect is the graphics.
Aladdin’s look and animation impresses from the first seconds. He lost some color depth during porting, but his clear outlines remained intact. Every single movement – run, jumps, attacks, throws, swings – everything is so stunning that it makes you wonder how did they manage to get all this from a 8-bit CPU. I can only compare it with… Yes, only with the Battletoads.
Really, in regard of diversity of character movements and animations these two games are from the same league. The graphics is not limited to animation of the main character. Just look at the background graphics of all these levels. We know so many games, be it original or pirate ones, that only had a couple outlines on a monochromatic background and nothing more. And here every background has a colorful and diverse palette.
I didn’t see such diversity in any other pirate game. Another thing that adds to the graphics quality is the background animation on some levels. Like the lava in the Cave of Wonders, or the sands in the Jafar’s dungeon. However, you may recall that not every copy of the game that we had back then contained these animations.
Now we should recall how the game was distributed by pirates back then. It was extremely rare in the original shape, as you have just seen it. Perhaps like 70% of those who played it at the time never heard this song, for example. Or this song. Or this one. That’s not even because the most common version here was the Aladdin 2.
When the game just came out and other pirate started to copy it, god knows why they cut out almost all the music, leaving only three songs. The title song, bonus, and boss theme. Damn, it wasn’t enough for them. So they also removed the background animation from all levels. In this shape they spread the game across our country and even further. Thus in the version that most of us had, after the title or bonus song was done playing, we had complete silence on all the levels.
So, the level with flee from the Cave of Wonders originally was looking like this… But we seen it like this… No music and lava animation, as you can see. The same thing in the whole game. We can only wonder why they did this.
Even if we guess that it was done to save the memory, to fit the game into a multi game cartridge, there are many examples of multi game cartridges that had 8 or 10 games, that weren’t missing anything. Anyway, it was the most common version here. By the way, it was possible to distinguish the original version simply by looking at the sticker.
In the most cases the complete version had a serial number on the sticker – JY-025. That was the code that JY Company put on their original cartridges with the game. Now back to the game itself. With all these graphics, animations, music, and gameplay, we praised the game so much that forgot to mention its flaws.
You know, every pirate game has its flaws, and even such a masterpiece as Aladdin is not an exception. The first drawback seen right away is that unlike the other versions, the game lacks the story completely. There is not a single cutscene that explains what happens during the game. The storyline is only supported with the order of levels that matches to the scenes from the movie. Well, with all that great music and graphics that used up all the resources it is not surprising that no room is left for the story.
Another problem that bothered me personally from very first minutes is that developers messed up A and B buttons. So A is attack and B is jump. You can get used to this, but for a Dendy platformer it isn’t cool. Probably it was done because the SNES version, the source of the port, had the same button configuration.
But damn, this configuration is the reason why I’m failing to beat the first Terminator game for a year now. I simply can’t stand this. It is worth to note that some time after the release, JY Company realized that they made a mistake, so a version of the game later included into their 45-in-1 multi game, had the attack and jump reassigned to their normal buttons.
Sadly, this cartridge was as rare here as the original Aladdin release. Another rarity here was an alternative version of the game, hacked into a Popeye game. By some reason developers decided to put him into the game, and release it as Popeye 2 Travels in Persia. Popeye looks simply astonishing here. I wouldn’t even dare to think, how, what, why this… Well, comparing to the Chip & Dale at the Vietnam War, you know… Everything else in the game and environments weren’t changed, so the only things that got Popeye involvement is the title screen and the main character.
Like I said, this version was extremely rare here. But in fact this may be not completely true. It is likely that you actually met it much often without being aware about it. How’s that, you ask? The answer in the cartridges. The thing is that pirates, being businessmen, were trying to increase range of their products as much as possible while minimizing the production expenses.
Having these two goals, they came up with an idea to use the same boards to store completely different games, and sell them as completely different game cartridges. So people who bought them had no idea that the cartridges contained much more games than they thought. Technology of the trick was trivial.
Let’s take the cartridge with Aladdin by JY. There is a typical board with three glob tops inside, just like in thousands of other cartridges. Given the fact that we only one game shows up on the console, and the sticker only mentions Aladdin, we have no doubts that this is a single game cartridge. There is one interesting thing on the board. See these two traces that separated in one place and looks notched in another? This is a hardware software selector, so called DIP switch.
It was used by the pirates to switch between different modes of their game cartridges, and therefore between the games sets. The bottom pad is for one game set, the upper pad for another. The middle one is the reset button.
Depending from a pad that is connected with the middle one, a game set become active. When the middle pad is not connected, pressing the reset button would change game sets. For example, a 150-in-1 multi game would turn into a 800-in-1 after changing the switch. This way pirates could put up to 16 game compilations into a single board, and simply by cutting a jumper connected with the reset pad, a cartridge could show up completely different games. Like, they could produce four different cartridges with the same board, only printing different labels for them, then selling with a different price, although in fact the cartridges were identical. The same thing here, if you cut the jumper and turn it on, you could see the Popeye 2 that was hiding on the Aladdin cartridge.
Not many pirates used this production costs reduction trick, for the most part it was JY Company that used it only for games that shared the same software resources. For example, Mortal Kombat II could be turned into MK3, Tekken 2 into Toshinden, and Donkey Kong 4 could be turned into Jungle Book 2. And the last thing that I would want to tell about the Aladdin by Hammer Team it that just like any other pirate game, it contains bugs and goofs. Besides the gameplay ones, when you could walk on the foes, or get stuck in a platform being not able to do anything, even die, you can find various visual oddities. For example, did you ever thought why Aladdin flees on the magic carpet from the Cave of Wonders, being together with Jasmine as Prince Ali? Or, where is the Genie’s face here?
The most interesting bug that I found in the game is an alternative way to beat the Jafar. Everyone knows that you can easily beat him by jumping on his head when is dives at Aladdin. However, would you guess that you can beat him by getting damage by yourself? The secret is simple.
First get Aladdin near death by losing all the hearts. When the last hit it left, wait until Jafar drops his magic wand, and touch it. It is supposed that Aladdin should die in the result, however, subsequent wand’s shot suddenly revives him. The live counter glitches up, the screen fades, and… We see the final cut. Aladdin and Jasmine flew away and lived happily ever after, and who knows what the heck happened with Jafar. A bug or a secret, we can only guess.
I suppose they simply didn’t foresee such situation. The End text certainly looks great, but it brings back the memories that on most of cartridges we had it was not so nice looking. Not to even mention the lack of any music in the end of such version. These were the Aladdin adventures in the 8-bit world.