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Aladdin designer Shinji Mikami on why the Genesis version is better

‘I wanted to have a sword’

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

In the ongoing debate over which 16-bit video game based on Disney’s animated movie Aladdin is superior — Capcom’s Super NES version or Sega and Virgin Games’ Genesis version — veteran game developer Shinji Mikami has weighed in.

Mikami, who served as a designer on the platformer while at Capcom, said he has a preference for the Sega Genesis version — the one he didn’t work on.

“If I didn’t actually make [the SNES game], I would probably buy the Genesis one,” Mikami told Polygon in an interview. “Animation-wise, I think the Genesis version’s better. The Genesis version had a sword, actually. I wanted to have a sword.”

Mikami also docks the Capcom-published version for another reason: the lack of Genie on the Super Famicom version’s box art. The Genie appears in the North American-published version of the SNES game’s box art, but the Japanese release featured only Aladdin, Abu and the Magic Carpet on its cover.

“Originally, the front of the Super Famicom package had a genie on it,” Mikami said. “Disney said no to that, so we had to move the genie to the back of the package in a smaller size. But the Sega version, they had the genie on the front.”

The decision to downplay the presence of Genie on the Super Famicom box may have had something to do with voice actor Robin Williams’ dispute with Disney at the time. After the film’s release, the actor publicly bristled after Disney used his character’s likeness in promotional materials.

“That put the use of the Genie as ‘sensitive’ during those discussions,” said David Perry, designer of the Genesis version of Aladdin and founder of Gaikai.

In an email to Polygon, Perry responded to Mikami’s preference for the Genesis Aladdin and offered his own diplomatic opinion on the hotly contested old-school argument.

“I'm really biased as we made the original game and got Disney to deliver the animation,” he said. “So I’d flip the quote, ‘If I didn’t actually make the Genesis version I’d probably buy the SNES one.’”

For more on the career of Shinji Mikami, read Polygon’s feature on the former Resident Evil director and founder of Tango Gameworks.

Matt Leone contributed to this report.

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