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Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge
Score: 80%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: SCEA/Disney
Developer: Argonaut Games
Media: CD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
After somewhat of a slump, Disney seems to be back in good form with Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge for PlayStation. The visual style of this 3D Platformer reminds me of the cel-shaded look becoming more popular these days, and ends up somewhere between the soft, smooth look and a more cartoony feel. It's nice, but cut-scenes use a hi-res version of the game's engine rather than actual animation, which I found surprising. Even mediocre games like the recent Lion King and Dinosaur mixed in animation, and it's hard to imagine why Nasira's Revenge went the other direction. The usual 3D issues are somewhat worsened by a camera that seems intent on finding the worst place to rest for any given scene. Argonaut is a name you may remember from Fox Interactive's Croc, which also had a really rough camera. I fear some of Croc's legacy lives on in Nasira's Revenge, but nobody expects much more from a 3D Platformer these days, unless you're looking at Crash or Spyro. And, for the young fans of Aladdin, the barrier for entry in terms of game performance may be much lower. Still, lining up jumps and moving around can be a very frustrating experience. The music is great, if a little repetitive, and comes right from the Aladdin movie(s). 'A Whole New World' is the most memorable and prominent tune, and recognizable voice-talent like Gilbert Gottfried as the obnoxious (isn't he always?) parrot shows up also.

Picking up after the defeat of Jafar, Nasira's Revenge is to bring her brother back to life. She starts by capturing Princess Jasmine and taking over the palace, and needs to be stopped before she can gather enough power to resurrect Jafar. You get a chance to play as Aladdin, Abu and Jasmine, but Aladdin definitely gets the lion's share of game-time. Most all of Nasira's Revenge is classic platforming, with a few interesting twists. Only Aladdin has any real attack power, so Abu and Jasmine spend more time solving puzzles than fighting. The puzzles are actually quite clever. Switches may be hidden in a pool of water, guarded by a crocodile. Characters will offer to help you in return for items found throughout the level, and street vendors may sell key items. Coins found through each of the level help you purchase things like this. Other items found in a level can be thrown as weapons, and often you'll have to grab apples out from under the nose of sleeping shopkeepers, sneaking craftily. Special power-ups can earn Aladdin the chance to play bonus levels or a genie slot-machine that gives free lives and extra continues. The bonus levels are usually timed attempts to gather coins or do crazy stuff like skateboarding. You actually get a few chances before the coins are totalled, but these are really hard levels. None of the levels seem filled with enemies, but fights are always challenging. Health power-ups are plentiful and needed frequently since Aladdin gets whacked so much. After each level you get a save, but checkpoints make clearing some of the more challenging levels easier. It's a fun game, and gives me real hope that Disney is back on track with their licensed games.

I mentioned that control is difficult, mainly for lack of good, smart camera work. Enemies also seem to have a jump on you, but Nasira's Revenge includes the feature where you flash after being hit and can't be hurt for a few seconds. I found this very useful not only for beating enemies, but also clearing trapped areas. After the first hit, just keep on barreling through and you won't lose any more health. Combine this with the genie's slot-machine and plenty of chances to win extra lives and continues, and you're talking about a game that may lead to short-term frustration but isn't actually hard to beat.

Game Mechanics:
For a simple kid's game, Nasira's Revenge has a complex control scheme. Not only do each of the three characters control differently, but each mini-game or bonus level has different controls. Centering and moving the camera is something you'll learn to do right away, and spend most of the game working with. Aladdin has a bunch of special moves, but very little of the level design demands you use more than jump, whack and throw. Because of some bad seams, there are times the whole level seems to disappear, and this happens early in the game, during the Agrabah level that has you jumping from roof to roof. The closed levels look better, but adjusting and correcting for bad spots in the graphics engine is a constant. Some areas, like the bouncing pillows in the palace or swinging ropes, show off more finesse in the control, and variety of design makes it so that nothing much stands out as a huge problem. Many times, it's just hard to figure out what you're supposed to do next, but this comes as much from the large size of each level as any poor instructions or design. Building big levels is a double-edged sword; they look great and give you freedom to move around, but can be a little confusing.

Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge will please anybody who really loves these characters, and believe me when I say it feels like major redemption for Disney after the shockingly sub-standard Dinosaur for PS and the second Lion King game, which was only average. Nasira's Revenge weighs in as an above average platforming experience, especially since we've all played the latest Spyro game by now... I've got my fingers crossed that Disney's licensed game output will take this as a stepping stone and get back to the good stuff, but give this one a try in the meantime. It's absolutely worth a rental for any Aladdin fans, and probably will please more than a few of the loyal Disney Kids out there.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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