If you grew up with a Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis, chances are you played The Lion King. If you played The Lion King, chances are you got frustrated around the third level and quit. In an age of video game rental stores and a need for increased play time, even kid’s games could be insanely difficult. The Lion King is a perfect example of that; a kind of nostalgic suffering that feels just as brutal as Dark Souls while filling the screen with colorful imagery. We’re meant to feel like Simba, but wind up feeling like Mufasa after his tumble into the gazelle freeway.
Take all of these feelings into consideration as I break down how speed runner Akiteru absolutely annihilates the game in 15 minutes, but still suffers at the hands of The Lion King.
Game: The Lion King
Category: Difficult Mode
Let the Games Begin
Firstly, the major difference about Akiteru’s run is the difficulty level. The Lion King has a few different difficulty levels, but the differences between them are minimal. In fact, the only differences “Difficult Mode” presents are in lives and enemy HP. These slight differences make the already difficult game a bit more annoying, but don’t change the run in any major way.
The Pridelands stage is the calm before the storm. Akiteru hops his way around the level pretty quickly, only stopping to grab a health item that increases Simba’s HP bar. This will help for later levels, where Akiteru will take damage on purpose.
At the end of the level, Simba must take on a hyena boss. In Difficult Mode, hyenas can take 3 hits instead of 1. This doesn’t make much of a difference, and Akiteru quickly kills the pesky foe. Then, right before the cutscene at the end of the level plays, Akiteru jumps forward. For some reason (even the runner and commentators don’t know why), this causes the game to skip the cutscene, saving a decent chunk of time.
Can’t Wait to Be King
Level 2 has Akiteru roaring at monkeys who fling him all over the place. Generally speaking, The Lion King is incredibly pretty. Whether it’s my love for 16-bit era color palettes, or my general attraction to the bright and colorful, the game looks good.
Hopping up and down on giraffe’s necks and off rhino horns, Akiteru makes it to the ostrich section. Jumping and ducking to avoid passing trees and animals, Akiteru ends up making a mistake and dying. However, having not collected any extra lives, he gets a game over.
That’s right. Even Akiteru, who holds the world record time for both Easy and Difficult modes, gets a game over. This forces him to completely restart the game. It goes to show that no matter how much practice you put in, The Lion King will screw you over with no regard.
However, having reset his timer, he easily makes his way back to the ostrich section and completes it. Another monkey flinging section wraps up Level 2.
The Elephant Graveyard
Welcome to your childhood nightmares. This is the level that killed our Saturday afternoons and had us throwing Blockbuster rental carts across the room. It’s also the most challenging level on Difficult mode due to the high amount of hyenas and birds. The majority of the level isn’t very difficult for Akiteru, but he ends up dying to the two hyenas at the very end of the level. Once again, The Lion King takes no prisoners.
This level is actually the most laid back of the run, despite dozens of gazelles barreling at you. Fortunately, the entire level can be easily passed by standing on a specific pixel. If done correctly, you will only get hit 3 or 4 times, not enough to kill you before the level completes.
This level is quickly completed thanks to two spots in the floor where Akiteru can clip through. He executes the first clip on his first try, taking some damage in a vine pit and falling through. The second one proves a bit more difficult, but gets it after a few attempts. The second clip is done by taking intentional damage off an enemy, and then seemingly squeezing through a gap in the ground collision.
This level isn’t incredibly noteworthy as far as skips or tricks; Akiteru just plays it really well. However, for those who might not know, the end boss of this level is actually an unused character from the film. The game was being produced while the film was also in production, and at the time, the ape character played a villainous role in the film. While the scenes eventually got scrapped, the character is immortalized in the game.
Simba’s Pride is the first level where you play as adult Simba. There’s a few difference between young and adult Simba, the main one being his ability to gain a bit of extra height by slashing in the air. By doing a slash attack during a jump, Akiteru is able to gain enough height to skip the slow ledge grabbing animations. This level also features the run’s hardest and most precise jump, which Akiteru nails in one go.
Be Prepared is the payoff for collecting the health increase item earlier on. The quickest route throught he beginning area is to simply run straight ahead and take damage when it comes. On a section where Simba rides a piece of rock in some lava, Akiteru jumps up and slashes at bat enemies before they appear. This is to prevent a devilish knock-back, straight out of Castlevania.
The end “survival” section with falling boulders proves no problem for Akiteru, as he jumps back and forth between a few platforms for safety.
Simba’s Return is mainly a maze level, and since Akiteru knows the game front and back, it’s not too big of a deal to work through. Completely this level quickly also requires a good handle on the combat mechanics. Although they aren’t incredibly deep, manipulating enemy movements provides a certain finesse to fights. Akiteru shows us skill towards the end of the level, lining three hyenas up and killing them all with one swipe.
Pride Rock is the last level, and mainly features Simba’s showdown with Scar. The level has two major skips, both of which Akiteru pulls off on his first try. This first one is right at the beginning, where Akiteru glitches through Scar’s character, allowing him to skip a lengthy animation. A mid-level fight with Scar is also mostly skipped due to a combat glitch that allows Akiteru to skip another animation. With those skips in the bag, we see Simba fling Scar off a cliff and roar in victory.
The Lion King has been put to rest.
Feel free to watch Akiteru’s complete run of The Lion King right at this link. It’s definitely one of my favorite runs of the year, and a quick and enjoyable viewing that will surely rile up some nostalgia.