GAME NAME: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
DEVELOPER(S): Sega Studios Australia
PLATFORM(S): PS3, Xbox 360, PC
RELEASE DATE(S): September 4th, 2013
Reimaginations and remakes seems to be all the craze of late. First we had Sony remaking their top PS2 titles in HD, and more recently, we saw the stellar Duck Tales being remastered by Capcom. Now it’s Mickey’s turn to move from his sprite-based form into something more HD. But the question is, has this mouse bitten off more than he can chew?
Originally released for the SEGA Megadrive, Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse was a showcase for platforming and graphics perfection on the 16-bit console, way back in 1990. Keep in mind that at the time people were losing their minds for Roxette, Bon Jovi and Technotronic. Everything was very simple back then, and it took very little to drop your jaw. Move ahead 23 years and simplicity alone just won’t quite cut it.
It goes like this: Mickey and Minnie are out and about enjoying a picnic when a wicked witch, named Mizrabel, fly’s in and abducts Minnie. Mickey chases them down and comes to a halt when confronted by a haunted-looking castle – you know the type, big moon, mist and everything. As you enter the castle, you’re greeted with several doors that require a certain number of jewels to open it. Conveniently, the first door can be opened by a mere six jewels, and guess what? There are six jewels right there! Walk through the door and you’re teleported to your first world.
The first thing you’ll realise is that in terms of graphics, the remastered version is really polished. Mickey mostly moves from left to right, like you would in a side-scrolling platformer, but there are moments when he moves in and out of the screen, like you would have seen in Crash Bandicoot. Enchanted Forest Act 1, the first stage, has leaves falling from the trees, lots of ambient movement in the background and just the overall shine that you’d expect from a Disney cartoon. What’s more is that the levels have been remastered to perfection. When seeing the mushrooms, knights in armour and those bastard toy soldiers, you can’t help but fall in love with it. And that’s when you press right on the analogue stick or D-pad.
The controls, for the lack of a better word, feel clumsy. After having just played Duck Tales, a game with responsive and buttery smooth controls, Mickey just doesn’t feel right. The controls are slippery and stick out like a zit on your nose. Mickey’s attacks also feel just so primitive. You can bounce on your foes or collect projectiles (such as apples) to throw at them, and that’s it. Combining these controls with dated mechanics is a testament to just how far we’ve come over the last few years. Mario still bounces on enemy heads and throws fireballs, but he’s got new attacks that makes his adventures fresh in comparison. After about 30 minutes of play, you’ll already feel the repetition kicking in. Some stages will present you with basic swimming sections and hardcore platforming bits, which adds variety and so that’s great, but they’re letdown by the controls yet again.
Fortunately, boss fights have been improved and follow a simple pattern that won’t take very long to master, and, happily, there are many references to the original game. Where it does keep some of its retro status comes in the form of checkpoints. Should you run out of lives, you’ll restart an Act right from the beginning. Yes, you will tear your hair out (good thing I don’t have much), but, as a positive of sorts, it does lengthen a very short game. Unless you plan to collect the hidden playing cards and gems to unlock costumes and paintings, you’re in for three hours at most.
If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, then it’s probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you’ve been following the development of Mickey’s remastered adventure, you’ll still find enough here to help fulfill the illusion of nostalgia.