I don’t even remember what year it was that my parents got me a Sega Genesis and The Lion King for my birthday. My guess is 1995, since that would be about a year after the movie came out, and since I know they got the whole shebang at Funcoland (a forerunner of Game Stop), that makes sense. It was a huge deal, at the time – my first game system. I’d played Sega Genesis in Target on their demo machines (Sonic 2 & Sonic and Knuckles), and at Funcoland itself, also on a demo machine, where I’d fallen in love with The Lion King.
Getting the game and the SG for my birthday was a huge deal, and a source of issues in months to come when I perceived a mistake in the game where there wasn’t one and wound up spending money on calls to the game hotline as well as getting a replacement game only to have the same issue happen… Only to realize that what I thought was broken was an intentional puzzle on the part of the game manufacturers, and something that taught me ultimately that you do not leave ANYTHING you can interact with in a game un-interacted with. (The stalactites at the end of the 8th level, for those who are wondering – you’re supposed to knock them down to blow a hole in the floor, and then continue on the level back in the opposite direction… but if you don’t KNOW that, it looks like a dead end – and who would’ve thought to randomly smack at rocks on the ceiling?)
Many other games followed while I had that SG. Other favorites were Jurassic Park: Rampage Edition, and Ecco The Dolphin and it’s sequel, The Tides Of Time, and, of course, the iconic Sega legend, Sonic The Hedgehog and all of his related games up through Sonic 3D (which gave me headaches, honestly, so I never beat it).
My mother enjoyed watching me play, and we bonded regularly over my video games. From that point on, I was hooked. I upgraded to a Playstation (PS1) within the next few years, and eventually to a PS2, which I still have to this day.
The point of this post, however, is emulation. As it is legal to own ROMs of games you actually own, I’ve made a point to keep my old Sega cartridges. Why, you may ask?
Well, because sometimes, like last night, I feel like returning to my gaming roots… And I’ll take an hour or so to play through Sega Genesis’ The Lion King, from beginning to end. And, retro or not… it’s just as fun now as it was seventeen years ago.