Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
My four year old daughter is obsessed with The Lion King of late, which should be an enormous relief given we had to struggle through 18 months of her only being interested in the most cloyingly pink princess horror prior to that. I though it would be an entirely wise idea to show her the old DOS Lion King game (developed by Command & Conquer creators Westwood, no less), which I had fuzzy but fond memories of. A significant mistake.
We grafted hard back in 1994, didn't we? The leaps, strides and compromises made in order to make a 2017 game accessible and non-frustrating were broadly a long way off back when Virgin Interactive adapted Disney's Hamlet-inspired tale of the Savannah. Oof. This ain't 90s Nintendo, either.
Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase. It means jump and fail for the rest of your days.
Limited lives and precision leaps are a tricky grind if you're playing this for yourself, but try playing it for the entertainment of a four-year-old impatient to see the next section. "But why do you keep dying, Daddy?" "If you got off my lap and stopped waving your hands in front of the screen then maybe I wouldn't, little one." "But why?"
Like the not-quite-so-brutal Aladdin, the art and animation is lovely to this day, though. The pixels are huge, sure, but it looks absolutely like The Lion King, no squinting required. An early level also recreates the musical number I Just Can't Wait To Be King, complete with pinging off giraffes' heads, bouncing off rhinos' bums and and swinging from monkeys' tails. In other words, little Connie adores the sight of it. What a shame it's killing me to play it.
How about completing the circle of life by releasing an HD remake with double-size health bars and three times as many lives, eh Disney?
Failing that, The Lion King is available via GOG these days.