RELEASED: July 1994
AVAILABLE ON: NES, SNES
DEVELOPER(S): Hudson Soft
PUBLISHER(S): Hudson Soft, Virgin Interactive
1991's Beauty and the Beast is one of Disney's most loved animated feature films, but also one of the films in the Renaissance Era of the classic series with the least potential to spawn a video game. Well, back in the mid-90's that didn't matter one bit, especially since Disney games sold so well. One wouldn't have been too amazed to see Pocahontas ripping it up in a platformer. In 1994, Hudson Soft made an NES game out of Beauty and the Beast, which was released exclusively in Europe. A 16-bit version of this game saw an international release, and it's no surprise that it's a very faulty, unfocused and unnecessary game that no gamer would've exactly missed - one of the weakest of its kind.
You will obey the controller! ...That's not a request!!!
Some years ago, a narcissistic prince with no trace of empathy was taught a lesson in humility by an old enchantress, and transformed into a hideous beast. Unless he could love and be loved in return before his 21st birthday, he would remain in his new form forever. The Beast remains in total seclusion from the outside world, punishing anyone and everyone who comes too close to his abode. When the Beast captures the father of the most beautiful girl in the nearby village, Belle, the brave maiden offers herself to be imprisoned in his stead. The Beast and Belle eventually fall in love, but there is one problem: an accomplished, egotistical hunter is also on the market for Belle's affections.
|Just keeping in shape.|
The sprites look decent and detailed enough, but the game itself is a murky, blurry, at times even downright ugly bundle of the most generic level design I've perhaps ever seen in a Disney game before - considering what I have coming up, perhaps I shouldn't speak too early. The level ideas are like they were done by five-year olds in a level editor for dummies, or ripped straight off from the worst of some commercially long-forgotten platformer. At least the music is mostly ambient stuff, not too disturbing, or even that bad.
There are four levels with a varying amount of areas. Naturally, the first level, the Beast's castle, is the longest, since that's where most of the movie happens. That, and its surrounding areas, so you'll be seeing that castle in some shape or form throughout the game. The Beast's only method of physical offense is a short-range melee attack. He can climb straight walls and curtains in the fashion of Ninja Gaiden, his roar (for some very odd, cryptic reason) manipulates the environment to the point of making lifts work, and picking up Belle's books might sometimes grant invincibility for a short period of time. The magic mirror allows you to see what lies a few steps ahead. All the time, the petals of the Beast's rose are falling, signaling a time limit. Those are the basics in a nutshell, now we get to the juiciest part: how does it all work?
Not good. First of all, the controls in this game are God damn weak. You cannot jump forward without taking a few steps for speed. Also, the Beast seems to bounce off sharp corners like a pinball. I'm being completely honest: on more than one, two or even three occasions, the Beast just inexplicably jumped into some random direction without me even pressing anything, like he was stung in the foot by a bee or something. Then, there are jumps in this game you simply cannot make without taking damage from spikes, or whatever's beneath you. Hell, you can't walk without taking damage. In the first level, there are these rats that jump at you and there's nothing you can do about it. They jump at you, chew at your arm, and the only way to get rid of those bastards is to press left and right in rapid succession. No matter how fast you are, you'll eventually take damage - how much, that depends on the difficulty level. The Beast's melee attack is so weak and short-ranged (and it doesn't work on all enemies), that it takes time to learn the one right time to strike, and even that's not always enough. Like The Jungle Book, this game drains your health surprisingly fast. The difference between The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast is that at least the last game was entertaining to some extent. Beauty and the Beast is a cheap, boring, uncontrollable drivel right from the beginning to its very welcome end.
|You know, gargoyle, I've watched every single |
animated feature by Disney there is. You can stop
pretending to be just a statue.
When I went into this game, I was ready to criticize it for being such an unnecessary release. The material's all wrong, and the movie was already three years old at the time; nobody needed a Beauty and the Beast video game. I believe a lot of even the most dedicated fans of the movie were happier and more fulfilled when there wasn't a game directly based on the movie around. Still, I was expecting a half-decent experience, since the standard was set and I thought game developers, whoever they were, would've even learned something new about the art of gameplay. No, they took several steps back. As a sworn fan of the Beast (is there anyone who REALLY thinks he's "hideous"?), it saddens me to say this, but Beauty and the Beast is one of the most useless Disney platformers there is. Just do yourself a favour and stay tuned for the Beast's impressive resurrection in Kingdom Hearts. Leave this one be.
GRAPHICS : 5.8
SOUND : 7.0
PLAYABILITY : 4.3
LIFESPAN : 4.7
CONCLUSION : 4.5
a.k.a. Disney's Beauty and the Beast
This wasn't the first Beauty and the Beast video game. Belle's Quest and Roar of the Beast were released back to back on the Sega Genesis in 1993. Both games were developed by Software Creations, and published by Sunsoft.