How Westwood Made The Lion King, One Of Gaming's Finest Platformers

In the first episode of Double Fine's new "Devs Play" series, Westwood Studios co-founder Louis Castle explores the challenges of turning one of Disney's most beloved animated films into a 16-bit platformer. I've learned so much.

I'm a huge fan of The Lion King for the Sega Genesis. I still remember buying a Genesis bundle that included the game from a local Media Play, the first console I'd ever purchased for myself with my own money. I've still got the cartridge here in my office as I type this.

I thought I knew everything there was to know about the game's development, but the stories Castle tells as Double Fine's Greg Rice plays (expertly) through the game are pretty astounding. For instance, none of the levels between Simba growing up and confronting Scar were simply padding -- the team created them based on content that was cut from the movie, a whole series of adult Simba adventures.

My favourite story regards the game's famous forward-facing stampede level, in which Simba has to dodge animals coming at him from behind while jumping over obstacles. This strange departure from the game's core platforming gameplay made Disney nervous, to the point where they called a meeting with the devs in order to scrap it. Westwood got the heads up about the meeting however, and while the Disney rep made his case to scrap the level, they booted up the game and started playing it.

The whole video is fascinating, packed with behind-the-scenes information on what it was like to create a 16-bit game for Disney back in the day.


Comments

    I had no idea it was Westwood who were behind that game. I thought all they did was C&C.

    Loved the absolute shit out of this game when we hired it out, back in the day.

      Other Westwood non-C&C nuggets include Nox, an isometric'ish ARPG, and Blade Runner, an investigative adventure game where each time you play someone different is the replicant.

        Blade Runner was ludicrously good.

          This a thousand times. Westwood made a heap of good games but Blade Runner was the standout to me. Had quite the effect on 13 year old me.

      they did dune 2 as well which I really liked back in the day

        I discovered Dune 2 after discovering C&C and Red Alert in a local pawn shop when I was about 13. Being a massive fan of the book, I was rapt to see an RTS based on the series.
        I'd like to see a reboot. No, Dune 2000 doesn't count.

      Westwood also made Eye of the Beholder, one of the classic AD&D CRPGs.

    Still just about the benchmark in movie tie-in games, twenty years later.

      yeah lion king and aladdin on the mega drive were the best

    To this day Westwood still probably sit at the top spot on my list of studios that should never have ended the way they did, they share it with Sony Liverpool Studios (Psygnosis), GSC and of course FASA. Honorable mentions go to Game World, and Irrational too as they also helped shaped so many great memories.

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