Dendy Chronicles - выпуск #5

Uploaded by Kinaman88 on 02.02.2012

Pavel Grinev a.k.a. Kinaman presents
A Kinamania Productions production
With support
In our childhood we loved cartoons as much as playing video games.
A great example is The Lion King, a Disney's animated masterpiece of 1990s.
At that time, when Russia already became Russia, we had seen a lot of great animated features and TV series.
Those of us who watched them at home video surely remember this voice:
...The day, when we get on the planet...
...when we walk into the beams of the Sun for first time...
This is Andrew Gavrilov.
We saw so many movies and animation films with his translation.
And there were many other equally famous voices of our home video.
We loved to watch all this over and over again, isn't it?
Regional TV channels translated many cartoons every day, repeating them many times from the same pirate video tapes.
For example, here in Rostov, The Lion King was translated every day at channel 32 at 3 PM, usually along with Tiny Toon Adventures.
They also translated Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, Chip & Dale, and many more.
That was so awesome.
However, our today's topic is not this, as you understand.
Not quite this, to be more exact - this is Dendy Chronicles, after all.
So, what common was between animated movies like The Lion King and Nintendo's 8 bit console at the time?
Exactly, games that were based on these animated films.
Today I would like to tell you about Dendy games that were based on two Disney's films.
They are The Lion King, released in theatres in 1994, and Aladdin, released two years earlier.
The main feature of games that recreated these great films in 8-bit format, is that we didn't have them.
Of course, we didn't have any official games at all, but this case it was even more serious.
The thing is that Aladdin and The Lion King games that we played on Dendy
were totally pirate products.
In other words, they were developed by pirates themselves, or were illegally ported from other platforms,
such as Sega Mega Drive and Super Nintendo.
Of course, they were presented to us as licensed, and we were sure that millions of gamers around the world play the same games too.
The fact that The Lion King game that I played for half of my childhood
is actually a complete ripoff of the Genesis version,
and has nothing to do with the original game that was released on NES,
was completely unthinkable for any Russian Dendy gamer.
The Lion King game for Dendy became available in Russian stores in the mid 90s.
At the time kids already were fans of the film, seeking it on VHS and TV, along with Elton John's music video.
Sega Mega Drive owners already got The Lion King game, while Dendy owners only dreamed about it, watching reviews in the Novaya Realnost.
Finally, the time has come, and Dendy got the much desired The Lion King game too.
Looking at the first level of the game, you would never think, especially at the time, that it is a pirate game.
Surprisingly well done graphics and backgrounds that is pleasing to the eye from the first seconds.
Of course, that variety of colors gave a little to those who played it in black and white... like me.
Little Simba running around the Pride Lands, and makes it clear for the gamer that he is very agile and jumpy,
and that the controls are a reference to follow for all the other pirate games, because it is free from the usual stiffness.
Those who played the Genesis version would not agree with me,
but in comparison with other 8-bit games this pirate port is certainly not usual.
Simba is armed with the roar that he was perfecting in the film,
he also can curl into a ball and attack certain enemies this way.
Health replenishment is done by eating incests and bugs.
As you remember, Timon and Pumbaa taught Simba to do that.
Let's ignore the fact that he haven't met them yet at this point of the story,
as well as the fact that Simba is almost as tall as the hyena that he fighting at the end of the first level.
The battle isn't difficult, just two hits are enough for the hyena to fall head over hills,
or whatever else she has.
The second level, titled 'Can't wait to be king',
unlike the first one, is a mixture of a platformer, scroller, and even a bit of puzzle.
Platformer is because you have to jump on the heads of giraffes, hippos, and rhinos all the time.
Scroller is because there is the ostrich ride.
Piece of puzzle, so to say is because there is a small part where you have to solve a puzzle with the monkeys
to make your way to the exit from the level.
Unfortunately, the graphics there are not that good comparing to the first level.
There is almost no background, and rough shapes of hippo's noses and rhino's asses aren't look well.
The monkeys yanks their tails, at least.
When they throw Simba around the level, that looks rough, but does not hurt the gameplay.
That's unlike the first ostrich ride,
where the first shit starts to happen.
Check this out.
I understand that the arrows shows us where to jump,
but is that was so difficult to shift the ostrich to the left edge,
instead of placing it at the middle and making invisible anything that lies ahead?
It is like you were playing Battletoads turbo tunnel level, keeping yourself at the right edge while trying to avoid the columns and jumping over the pits.
The first ride is not that bad, because there are hints.
But the second one, which is longer, and does not have any hints,
is a pure torture.
The only thing that helps to get through this part is that you never have to duck, unlike 16-bit versions of the game.
You also can make double jump all the time, but damn!
Being always located at the middle of the screen, it isn't always possible to guess the moment to perform the double jump.
Oh well.
After the ostrich ride and simple puzzle with the monkeys, the second level ends, and the next one begins.
That's the 'Hakuna Matata' one.
There is nothing that would seem strange to Dendy owners in 1990s, but those who had 16-bit console would be alarmed:
'Where is The Elephant Graveyard, The Stampede, and where the heck is Simba's Exile?!'
These three levels of 16-bit versions were cut in this version by some reason that is unknown to me.
The 'Hakuna Matata' level is just like the first one.
You only need to jump on the platforms and punish some small animals.
Instead of the boss battle, at the end of the level Simba have to climb to the top of a waterfall jumping on the logs that slowly moves down.
In 16-bit versions of the game there is plenty of the logs, but here make them appear is like a science.
Yeah, hello to Reploid [another reviewer].
You get to the bottom of the waterfall and wait for the logs.
But there are no logs.
You could jump and rushing here and there, and still there are no logs.
So you start to think, either you screwed up, or you simply don't know something.
I can reassure you, this is the second case.
However, there is not much to know, because the solution of the problem is illogical.
To make the logs appear, you have to jump few platforms to the left,
until you get to the dead end,
then get back, and you'll see the logs.
How is that? Only pirates know. But that's not all.
Climbing up is a different story.
Halfway through, the logs stops to come.
The only way to survive here is to constantly jump at the same place until they appear again.
But even this is not all!
If you will climb up too fast, could happen this...
He was killed by the screen edge.
As you can see, this waterfall is full of surprises.
When you get through it, Timon will appear again,
tell that Simba is back, and the next level begin.
Simba now is grown up and returned to the ruined Pride Lands full of hyenas.
In this small, not too complex maze, that is the fourth level, you only have to smack some of them and not get lost.
Although the lion is now adult and now can use his claws, he still can attack by jumping on top of the enemies.
This is much more effective, actually.
There are no surprises in this level, unlike the last, fifth level 'Pride Rock'.
This one will make you to jerk the gamepad a lot, because Simba's arch enemy, his uncle Scar, is appear there.
Unfortunately, he lost his personality in the porting process, and uses slightly darkened sprites of Simba.
Anyway, the goal of the fifth level and the game itself is to catch and drop him off a cliff.
There are hyenas and fiery trails of lighting bolts on your way to the top.
This level is similar to the first one as well, but more difficult, of course.
Not only because you have to fight hyenas and avoids flames,
but also because you have to cling to the rocks all the time, which is really annoying sometimes,
not to mention fights with Scar.
Just look at this.
I officially declare that it is impossible to cling to these last two ledges!
And to eat that bug too.
I spent 10 years trying to do that, I even tried it on an emulator with save states, but no luck.
The bug is only tease you!
Remember a similar thing in the Milon's Secret Castle?
Do you want this bug, do you want this little bug, want it?
Dream on, moron!
Despite the level has three battles with Scar, there are no checkpoints,
so if you get to the top of the cliff and lose the last battle, you'll have to start all over again.
At the first glance, the difficulty of platforming, annoying hyenas, and the Scar make impression that end of the game is pretty hard.
But I could say that actually it is well balanced.
Also, there are few shortcuts.
Additional lives and continues scattered around the game make a great help to beat the last level.
So if you don't waste them in the first half of the game, it'll be enough for the second half.
Also, you can exchange lives to continues on the first and forth levels to get max amount of continues.
Dumping Scar off the cliff is a pleasure.
All you have to do is to press B all the time,
throwing him back and forth until he fall off the edge eventually.
With turbo B button it is piece of cake.
So, Scar is defeated, Simba got his kingdom back, and we see final picture with him in all his grandeur and magnificence.
Overall, The Lion King by Super Game for Dendy is a worthy conversion of the famous animated feature,
despite being a pirate production.
In 1990s we had no clue that it is a pirate game,
even that games can be pirate or licensed.
They all were equal for us, Super Mario 8 or Darkwing Duck.
Years later I got access to the Internet and tried to find the game for an emulator.
It was a great surprise for me that the NES game that I found
was completely different, and the one that I played for years was nowhere to found.
Being puzzled, I started to seek for information on the forums.
and soon learned that the Super Game version was unlicensed,
and the game that was available on every website is the official game released for NES less than a year after the animated film.
I figured out that if the pirate version was good, the official one should be just great.
So, here it is, the original Lion King game for NES that was never seen on the pirate cartridges.
Finally, we got an opportunity to play the real thing rather than that lousy pirate.
Behold and enjoy, how it...
This is the first level, Pride Lands, of the licensed Lion King NES game, but...
What a crappy graphics.
What a crappy background.
Everything is so small, Simba is barely seen,
but the bugs that he eats are larger than him.
No mistake here, it is the licensed game?
If so, why it looks so much worse than the pirate game?
A licensed game that looks worse than a pirate one.
How could it be?!
Anyway. This version was developed by Virgin in 1994, but released only in the middle of 1995.
So this is one of the latest official games ever released on the NES.
But it looks just like one of earliest games.
Also, it was released in Europe only, so Japanese and Americans probably didn't want it.
We here played in the pirate version, they are considered crappy usually.
But just looks at these.
If you didn't know what is what, which one you would consider a pirate game?
I just don't get, how come that in the official game Simba just barely resembles himself?
Why the hyenas are orange?
Why two large black spots instead of the background?
Meanwhile in the pirate version everything looks much more like in the animated film.
Why developers themselves weren't able to make a quality port?
What's this, after all?
And that is just the first level, now take a look to the second.
What could I say?
I just can't name it a licensed game.
It looks more like a coloring book for kids rather than a game.
Take a note, in the pirate version the rhinos chew the grass and shaking their heads,
while in the official one developers were greedy on sprites, so the rhinos are still like a stone.
They don't move even when they throw Simba up,
so it looks like Simba sits down on their horns and soar up from the pain in the ass,
not because a rhino throws him up by the head.
However, in the Super Game version there were troubles with the ostrich ride,
because it is always located in the middle of the screen, but maybe at least this version makes it right?
What a f... up.
How come that no one had enough brains to move it to the left?!
Why it always should be a blind jump?
The only good thing is that in this version the ride is easier, because it is slower,
and there is only one ride. After finishing it and jumping on the rhinos tails
there is no monkey puzzle, they'll just throw you to the end of the level.
I can't call the latter a good thing, because the developers simply cut it out, God knows why.
At least they kept the three levels that were absent in the pirate version.
However, even the first of these, 'Elephant Graveyard',
just hammering another nail into the coffin for graphics of the game.
Someone certainly forgot to color this page of The Lion King color book,
but not completely. Being high, he painted the hyenas into orange and vultures into blue.
'The Stampede' level is more like a stroll than a stampede,
it also uses music from the first level.
The fifth level, 'Simba's Exile', is almost identical to the first one.
The only difference that it is a bit harder, because besides the lizards and hedgehogs, there are hyenas, vultures and rocks falling from the sky.
You know, I suspected that the developers had lack of imagination from the beginning, and there I can see it clearly.
The 'Hakuna Matata' level begins, it is also turns to be clear that they had problems with physics as well.
I would like to ask the artist who drawn this level -
where he saw water that hang still in the air?
It it is a waterfall, it should fall, isn't it?
Even Chinese pirates managed to animate the water, instead of drawing cryptic bar codes.
As for gameplay, this level is not much different to Super Game version.
except the waterfall climb, where you can hang to the cliff edges besides the logs.
They also just hang in the air.
Also, the level is not ends after climbing to the top, there is a boss - a huge gorilla that throws coconuts.
I have no idea where she came from, there is no such character in the movie.
It is absent in the pirate version too, however, it is also present in 16-bit versions of the game.
Anyway, the battle is much easier than in 16-bit versions.
All you have to do is to jump on the coconuts thrown by the gorilla, so they will bounce back.
As you remember, this is the last level where Simba is a young lion.
Now he should grow up and fight his kingdom back.
So, the next level...
'Everything the light touches is your kingdom.'
That's all?
Simba beaten up a random gorilla and became the king.
As you see, that's all.
You defeat the gorilla and final titles appear.
At first I thought that probably it happened because of easy difficulty level.
You know, in some games final levels aren't available when you play in easy mode.
In The Lion King game there are three difficulty levels:
Cub is easy, Prince is medium, and King is hard.
The difference is amount of lives and enemy hit points.
So, when I set the king level, got to the gorilla and defeated it, guess what happened?
The same damn exact thing.
Bottom ine.
There are no levels with adult Simba in the game.
Developers simply cut a half of the story and ended game in the middle,
they made a horrible graphics,
and officially released that on NES in 1995 as The Lion King game.
Taking all this into account, there is only one question:
How the f... they managed to f... up so much?
The answer is simple and lies in the title.
The Lion King.
An animated masterpiece, 1994 hit with more than a half of billion dollars in the box office,
that got two Oscars and three Golden Globes.
So why the heck they released a crappy, shitty, unfinished game a year later for a console that lives its last days?
Sure! To earn extra money, that Disney did in all possible ways.
Besides this trivial reason, there is another one why the game is bad.
It is hidden right here.
This is an original European version of The Lion King game, released in late 1994 for Nintendo Game Boy.
Some time later the game was also released in US and had nice sales.
It was made by Dark Technologies, the same company that made the NES version.
But the GB version was released half a year earlier.
So, when half a year after the GB release they were asked for NES version
they found nothing better than to port the GB version.
In other words, move it from this...
to this.
Unfortunately, they not only ported the game from an inferior platform,
they also managed to make it worse, and not even finish after all.
As you could guess, unlike the NES version, Game Boy release contained complete story,
represented with nine levels, and finished with battle with Scar at top of the cliff.
Besides this, it also had unique cutscenes before every level,
many more different songs,
balanced gameplay, and much better characters and Simba's animation,
despite the color limitations.
It is easy to demonstrate it, just look at the forth level with escape from the wildebeest herd.
Despite almost the same graphics, what looks more like the stampede episode?
The Game Boy version...
or the NES version?
It would be much better if they simply made a proper port of the Game Boy version.
European gamers would be saved from buying the NES cartridge titled 'The Lion King'
only to get that unfinished trash.
So, I can tell that is was for the good that we didn't have that NES game,
and we played in the pirate, but so much better version by Super Game.
By the way, there was an article about this pirate port in 36 issue of the Great Dragon,
successor of the 'Video Ass Dendy' magazine.
The article took four pages and contained full walkthrough compiled from reader's letters.
There is no new or unique information in the article,
but one detail was mentioned there that not many have seen.
This is list of power ups from the first level.
'Every red-yellow bug restore 1/4 of health points.'
'Blue bug is a pass to the bonus level.'
- What the bonus level?
I was wondering in 1990s.
There are no bonus levels in the game.
There is a bonus level in Game Boy version, where you control Pumbaa who should catch bugs that Timon drops down.
It is also present in the official NES game, and in 16-bit versions too.
However, I never saw it in the pirate port.
The article says that the blue bug is a pass to the bonus,
but when you pick it up, nothing happens, and after completion of the first level you get right to the second.
There is a similar bug on the second level too, but it is green.
When you pick it up, nothing happens again.
So is there a bonus level hidden in the game, or no?
I found the answer only few years later, when I got this cartridge.
This is original pirate cartridge with The Lion King game by Super Game.
Yeah, there was even such a thing as original pirate cartridges.
This is so called 'first copy' of the game, released by the developer company itself.
It even had a special package, similar to the Famicom game packages,
but they get here with these very rarely.
So, if you play this copy and take the blue bug on the first level, you'll hear an unusual sound.
When you defeat the hyena and complete the level, you'll see 'Bug Toss' text instead of Timon,
and get to the bonus level where Pumbaa should eat bugs.
As you understand, there was a limited run of these 'original' copies.
When one pirates started to pirate games of other pirates, putting them on their multi game cartridges,
they hacked them to another mapper, so this bonus was cut in the result.
About 95% of The Lion King cartridges in Russia were these cut down versions.
Not many people were able to find the 'original' copy, because these cartridges were seemingly identical,
except for 'Sugar Software' logo on the 'original'.
That's probably another pirate publisher.
However, all copies had the same problem with greenish picture.
Very often the version by Super Game didn't work properly on our consoles.
The problem is that title screen, fourth level, and ending picture were displayed with major green tint,
although colors there should be like this.
The problem was mostly not in the game itself, but in our pirate consoles from China.
The game and other Super Game ports worked properly only on minority of them.
This Junior has the green tint, but it is not that noticeable.
This one has major green tint.
I have no idea what is the difference between these two.
The original Famicom runs the game perfectly, although faster, because it is NTSC.
I don't know for sure why Dendy has that problem.
That's all that I wanted to tell you.
Go away.
Leave me alone!
Stop it, they don't need this!
Fine! You got me.
I didn't want to tell you this.
It seems I have to.
The thing is that wonderful cheat book mention The Lion King.
And it burns the Australia map on the ass for sure.
Here, The Lion King.
'Collect the gems to complete a level.'
'Find a... shovel to get to the bonus level.'
What a nonsense.
What gems, what shovel, what are you talking about?
Lion King.
So what?
Created and directed by Pavel Grinev a.k.a. Kinaman
Camera work by Maksim Edush a.k.a. McSIM
Artwork by Andrew Vdovichenko a.k.a. The Sandman
With the participation by Dmitry Udalov a.k.a. FCst1
This review contains excerpts from 'Novaya Realnost' TV show and footage by Artem Pirinyazov a.k.a. GooDok
Also contains video and music clips from The Lion King animated feature and Elton John's music video
Thanks for help and support to these people and everyone who donated
Produced by Kinamania Productions
In the next episode of Dendy Chronicles - Aladdin