Most gamers begin their journey in some conventional place. Many would have started life as a plumber squishing koopas and others as a hedgehog freeing animal friends from Dr. Eggman, today they even start their gaming adventure screaming down the microphone at bewildered strangers. As for me, I found it much more inspiring to start life by throwing apples at scimitar-wielding soldiers, in what happens to also be the greatest Disney film – Aladdin.
The game coincided with the release of the film, perhaps revealing more about my age than my taste in games. But truthfully, while Aladdin should never be spoken in the same breath as Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog, it remains an excellent platform video game that has aged remarkably well.
Nostalgia is admittedly much of the sweetness in this old-aged wine, something you should certainly be careful drinking too much of. However, the first sip is perhaps the most important taste of all, and a gaming addiction had begun the moment the iconic soundtrack was seducing me through the old bazaar, weaving my way through the scimitar swings and the moving baskets.
For some reason, I found the game notoriously difficult as a child. Upon revisiting, the game is perhaps one of the easiest platformers of its generation; a generation that had some genuinely tough platformers in Aladdin‘s defense. Much like many games of its era, there are simple tricks to overcoming certain adversaries. For instance, the first boss you encounter in Aladdin on stage three only requires the player to crouch and stab. As long as you’re crouching and stabbing, he can’t touch you. The second boss you encounter, weirdly on the same stage as the first, is a little more challenging, but if you’ve been collecting them apples then it’s a simple jump and throw action.
Even Jafar himself was easily dispatched with apples, perhaps proving to be the finest throwing-weapon in gaming history; unless you’re defying all sense and throwing knives around the Facility in Goldeneye. Regardless, the apple is rather tame compared to what you’re up against. Some carefully placed soldiers juggling knives can be quite the handful, and the random citizens of Agrabah throwing their pots out the window in synchrony is a wonderfully choreographed attack that keeps the player heightened to their surroundings.
Some of the most memorable levels were the bonus levels that had you control Abu with a sword the size of him. It put you in a situation of avoiding an onslaught of enemy attacks, either dodging projectiles or slicing up a few soldiers. These were short but intense levels, requiring quick reactions to succeed. As a mere young boy, with the dexterity of a crab opening a door, these bonus levels would prove to be my undoing, a cave of wonder that I couldn’t get back out of.
Facing constant adversity around every corner, it’s any luck I came out of this game alive. Jokes aside, my love for gaming took a magic carpet ride from this moment on. While starting out on the Sega Megadrive, the wind would soon take me to Nintendo where I’ve largely resided ever since. Sega remains an important part of my gaming past and it’s a huge shame they don’t make consoles anymore; the battle between Sega and Nintendo in the early 90s was the finest battle between two consoles ever witnessed, both providing unique titles for their respected console.
It was my short trip in Aladdin that led to my indulgence into gaming. After I brushed up my Sunday Salaam and gave Jafar his five-a-day, I had quickly moved onto Sonic the Hedgehog, then to Golden Axe, then to Streets of Rage, and so on and so forth. It is not without a certain amount of irony that Sega would eventually lead me to become a huge Nintendo fan, a position that many Sega fans of my generation find themselves in. I would soon find myself playing Pokémon on the Game Boy and The Legend of Zelda on the Nintendo 64, and the manifestation of my mind, and the destruction of my eyesight, had commenced.
A person’s gaming history is as unique as their fingerprint, perhaps one of the truest tests of character available. Where you started is as important as where you are today, and it’s a lot of fun revisiting a time where gaming, and life for that matter, was a little simpler. We now take for granted that a lot of games can give us over 100 hours of gameplay these days. Aladdin could be completed within an hour, and yet it’s still a wonderfully charming game.
The truth is, I wouldn’t be writing for Goomba Stomp if I had never played Aladdin on the Sega Mega Drive, which is quite the influence to have on someone’s life two decades later. Aladdin has given me a whole new world, and for that, the game can only remain an iconic masterpiece.