If you were a 16-bit gamer, get ready for a welcomed dose of nostalgia with Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King. This release isn’t just about fond memories, either. As a package, these games are better than ever, thanks to many attentive options.

I’ll start with Aladdin, as that was a favorite of mine back in the day. While I was initially disappointed that this collection doesn’t include the SNES version, I quickly got over it as I was reminded why I played the Genesis one so much. The hand-drawn animation (in collaboration with Disney) made this a stunner to look at in 1993! Tommy Tallarico’s soundtrack was a great accompaniment to the eye candy.

Aesthetics aside, Aladdin was, and still is, a fun platformer from start to finish. Yes, it does feel a bit rushed, some of the collision detection is off, and the final boss encounter is anticlimactic. But it was a critical and commercial success for a reason. I was already a fan of Virgin Games thanks to titles like Chuck Rock, Dune, and Cool Spot, but Aladdin shows the utmost quality and thoughtfulness. No longer having to beat it in a single setting is also appreciated.

Besides the Genesis version, there is the Game Boy (and Super Game Boy) build, but one look was enough for me. Likewise, the Japanese version isn’t particularly compelling. The trade show demo version is quite interesting, if mainly to see elements that didn’t make it into the retail release. But the limited sword range means this might be another “one and done.” There’s also a “Final Cut” with some “adjustments and other refinements.” I particularly enjoyed the videos where Aladdin’s development team reminisce about the game 25 years later.

It’s time to move onto Kimba the White Lion… I mean, The Lion King. Unlike Aladdin, The Lion King is not a great game to play. However, it is a rather good game to watch. One of the features included in this bundle is the ability to view either game from start to finish. You can also jump into play at any time. The Lion King has very good 16-bit visuals and music, making it worth 50 minutes to watch an ideal run. In some ways, Simba and company show more life in cartridge form than they do in CGI blockbusters made 25 years later.

Playing is something else though. This game is pretty cheap. The second level alone wore on me with a combination of pinpoint double jumping and out of place trial and error puzzles involving backtracking. Later, you’ll also need to watch out for things falling from the sky, such as lava drips or heat-seeking boulders. Patience is a requirement for most of these levels—see how long it takes you to jump vertically up the waterfall. With one hit deaths, a maze level, and more, these designs have lots of weaknesses. The slippery controls (Simba often struggles to grab ledges) do no favors either. While the rewind feature helps some, I just feel like this game lacks the balance Aladdin has. Maybe it was playtested less? Whatever the case, the Lion King is more frustrating than fun to play.

Also not helping matters is the fact that The Lion King’s level design is pretty predictable. Most of them have you zigzagging left and right in repeated patterns. The stampede chase is a standout, though. This was a big deal back in the day, and it still manages to impress some now. 

But with fewer achievements, fewer videos, and no game art, The Lion King places firmly behind Aladdin. Its Game Boy builds aren’t worth repeated looks either. But as someone who lived through the 16-bit wars, I did get a kick out of comparing the SNES and Genesis builds. Such appeal is limited, I recognize, so your mileage will vary.

I’m so grateful for the attention to detail given to this release as a bundle. It excels with all of its options and settings. Besides the various gameplay improvements, going through the in-game museum and looking at concept art with the click of a button is the icing on the cake. Listening to the full soundtracks for these games is great too;- “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” never sounded better than in chiptune form.

Disney Classic Games: Aladdin and The Lion King is an admirable package. While some game editions are missing (and Lion King fails to hold up) this bundle shows the kind of care I long to see in all re-releases. It’s worth it for Aladdin alone, while the extras should tempt those on the fence.