The Lion King is a video game based on Disney’s popular animated film. The title was published by Virgin Interactive in 1994, and was released on SNES, NES, Game Boy, PC, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Amiga, Master System and Game Gear. The NES and Master System versions of the game were never released in North America. The game follows Simba’s journey from a young carefree cub to the battle with his uncle Scar as an adult.
The game is a side-scrolling platform game, with the controlled character having to leap, climb, run and descend from platform to platform. There is an exception during the level The Stampede, where Simba is running towards (or in the Game Boy version, running with the camera looking straight down on top of him, while the Game Gear version is a side scrolling platformer like the other stages) the camera dodging wildebeest and leaping over rocks.
In most versions of the game two bars appear on the HUD. To the left is the roar meter, which must be fully charged for Simba’s roar to be effective. To the right is the health bar which decreases when Simba is hurt. At the bottom left of the screen is a counter showing how many lives Simba has remaining. Health can be restored by collecting bugs which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some rare health-damaging bugs also exist.
If Simba loses his health he floats in the middle of the black screen standing dazedly and faints as a cub while as an adult he faints.
In the Continue screen Rafiki will say “The king has returned” if selected yes.
The player controls Simba (first as a cub, then later as an adult) in the main levels and either Timon or Pumbaa in the bonus levels.
Cub Simba Cub Simba can roar, jump on enemies and roll. All three are used to combat enemies and have different effects. Rolling can also be used to access hidden areas and dodge attacks.
Adult Simba Adult Simba is stronger, can slash and maul, and he can throw instead of defeating his enemies by jumping on them. He also has a more formidable roar, but can no longer roll.
Timon and Pumbaa During the course of the game, there are two bonus stages. In the first bonus stage, players control Pumbaa, eating bugs dropped by Timon without letting any good ones touch the floor. In the second bonus stage, players control Timon, searching the area for bugs within a time limit. Both will end prematurely if they come into contact with a bad bug (a spider).
The sprites and backgrounds were drawn by Disney animators themselves at Walt Disney Feature Animation, and the music was adapted from songs and orchestrations in the soundtrack.
The Sega Genesis version of the game does not have background vocals unlike the Super Nintendo version, but the Super Nintendo version has less background particles than the Genesis version. This is evident in the Elephant Graveyard and Stampede levels, as well as on the title screen. The MS-DOS version contains background vocals when the game is played with a SoundBlaster sound card. The vocals are missing when the game is using an AdLib sound card due to AdLib’s inability to play digital sound.
The Windows 3.1 version relied on the WinG graphics engine, but a series of Compaq Presarios were not tested with WinG, which caused the game to crash while loading. The crashes caused game developers to be suspicious of Windows as a viable platform and instead many stuck with MS-DOS. To prevent further hardware/software compatibility issues, Direct X was created. This also led to the Windows 95 port of Doom to try to regain developers’ faith in Windows.