Home | News | Reviews | Previews | Hardware
The Lion King: Simba's Mighty Adventure
Score: 66%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Paradox Development
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
Simba's Mighty Adventure seems to be almost a complete redo of Disney's Tarzan in both graphics and gameplay. I had fun playing Tarzan, but what looked good then doesn't pass now. First, Tarzan had that 2.5D perspective going in most levels, mixed with some of the 'chase' scenes where Tarzan slid away from you or ran toward you as the background moved along at a fast clip. Simba's Mighty Adventure takes the same ideas, but uses a closer camera that doesn't give any kind of view; I was actually trying to crane my neck and look around Simba, which is really silly. There are great clips from the two Lion King movies as cut scenes, and I'm sure many kids will forgive all kinds of graphical glitches to play as Simba.

The voices for the game only really come in when cut-scenes play, but Timon and Pumbaa make wise-cracks in many of the levels when things are tough or Simba is messing up. Sound and music is excellent, taken right from the movies.

I wondered about the timing for this game, since the first Lion King movie was at least 4-5 years ago, but Simba's Mighty Adventure is actually a mix of both movies. Almost everybody knows the original Lion King, but I never saw Simba's Pride, the second movie. Lion King was about Simba becoming the leader of his pride and growing up to learn the lessons of life, love and honor. Simba's Pride starts with Simba as a grown-up lion. After his daughter falls in love with a lion from another pride, Simba is caught up in a power struggle with the Outlander queen, Zira. Playing as Simba, each level presents different challenges related to the storyline from the movies and both Zira and Scar appear as bosses.

There really isn't anything in Simba's Mighty Adventure that shouldn't make for good Platforming action. All the story elements are followed for each level, so anything happening in the movie cut-scene sets the activity for the next level. Water, fire and falling rocks all come into play along with tons of enemies and obstacles or tricky jumps. The really disappointing part was when I finished the 'Lion King' portion of the game and thought, 'Great, now for a new bunch of levels from the next movie.' Basically, every level that played out the events in Lion King gets repeated for Simba's Pride! Sure, instead of running through jungle, Simba runs through fiery plains. Sure, instead of Scar throwing rocks at him, Zira rolls logs at him, but why did I feel like I played the whole game twice? And I'm not even kidding when I say that from the first cut-scene to the ending credits, this game only took 90 minutes to beat on the standard difficulty. Somehow, unless this game is intended for seriously entry-level gamers, I don't believe most kids will find any challenge here. The action is a mix of behind-the-back 3D with a fixed camera and 2.5D or running levels where Simba is chased through a canyon and has to avoid obstacles. In each level, a certain number of Coin power-ups have to be grabbed before playing the next level. Other items are Gourds that Simba can cash in to play special mini games and the letters S-I-M-B-A, used to earn movies you can watch later after completing any level. Some of the mini-games are fun, but not enough to save the otherwise boring gameplay.

There were so many times Simba fell off a cliff or jumped into a hole, mostly because of poor camera angle. Shadows under enemies and Simba when he jumps are supposed to help you be more accurate, but they can't take the place of solid controls... The mini-games don't have any reward, and although some feel fun the first time, most are awkward and frustrating. Ironically, since kids are the best gamers, some adults might have a hard time mastering the reflexes to master Simba's Mighty Adventure, but any 10-year old will probably knock it off in an hour.

Game Mechanics:
Most of the classic Platforming devices are here, including power-ups, checkpoints and the butt-bounce. Besides the butt-bounce, Simba can use his roll-attack and roar. Nothing about the roar will do much good against anything but bugs, and the butt-bounce (called a 'pounce') is all you need to knock out Zira and Scar. Picking up Meat recharges Simba's health, and defeated enemies can either drop Coins or Meat. Jumping, roaring, rolling and pouncing are all assigned to buttons, with movement on the analog stick. Simba controls like a tank. You turn his body and then push him forward. Very clunky and especially hard when trying to fight enemies or pick up Coins in the 'chase' levels. Earning enough points lets you try one of the four mini games, two of which are terrible. Each minigame explains its own controls, but most are about rhythmic button-pressing. I liked the Memory-style matching game and the Martial Arts game, but having them along with the main game is still not enough. After you beat Simba's Mighty Adventure on one of the difficulty levels, a series of puzzle games open up, with sliding tiles that randomize and have to be put back together.

PS2: Simba's Mighty Adventure will not work properly when either of the PS Driver options (Fast loading or Smooth graphics) are selected. The game loads, but every time I tried a mini-game with these settings, it instantly froze and had to be reset.

It's sad, because I really think Disney has its name on some quality PS games, and who would believe franchises like Dinosaur and Lion King wouldn't make successful games? The youngest kids may find Simba's Mighty Adventure a lot of fun, for the same reason they watch the movies 8 times in a row if left to themselves. If you are old enough to find and read this review, chances are good that Lion King will bore you to tears.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

This site best viewed in Internet Explorer 6 or higher or Firefox.