The game is a side-scrolling platform game, with the controlled character having to leap, climb, run and descend from platform to platform. There is an exception during the level The Stampede, where Simba is running towards (or in the Game Boy version, running with the camera looking straight down on top of him, while the Game Gear version is a side scrolling platformer like the other stages) the camera dodging wildebeest and leaping over rocks.
In most versions of the game two bars appear on the HUD. To the left is the roar meter, which must be fully charged for Simba's roar to be effective. To the right is the health bar which decreases when Simba is hurt. At the bottom left of the screen is a counter showing how many lives Simba has remaining. Health can be restored by collecting bugs which come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some rare health-damaging bugs also exist.
The player controls Simba (first as a cub, then later as an adult) in the main levels and either Timon or Pumbaa in the bonus levels.
Graphics and Sound Edit
The sprites and backgrounds were drawn by Disney animators themselves at Walt Disney Feature Animation, and the music was adapted from songs and orchestrations in the soundtrack.
The Sega Genesis version of the game does not have background vocals unlike the Super Nintendo version, due to limitations, but the Super Nintendo version has less background particles that the Genesis version. This fact is evident in the Elephant Graveyard and Stampede levels, as well as on the title screen. The MS-DOS version contains background vocals, which can be heard when the game is played with a SoundBlaster sound card. The vocals are missing when the game is using an AdLib sound card due to AdLib's inability to play digital sound.
The Windows 3.1 version relied on the WinG graphics engine, but a series of Compaq Presarios, preloaded with the then-new Windows 95 operating system were not tested with WinG, which in turn, caused the game to crash while loading. The reported crashes caused many game developers who published games on the Windows platform to be suspicious of Windows as a viable platform and instead, many stuck with MS-DOS. To prevent further hardware/software compatibility issues, Direct X was created. This also led to the Windows 95 port of Doom to try to regain developers' faith in Windows.
The Lion King received mostly positive reviews, including an 8/10 from Electronic Gaming Monthly, and sold well, including 1.27 million units of the SNES version in the United States. Gameplayers awarded the game Sega Genesis Game of the Year over Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic and Knuckles and wrote on their November 1994 issue that "even on the easy setting, the game is hard for an experienced player".