It’s safe to say that DuckTales Remastered was a hit, considering that the game, formerly available as a digital-only title will be releasing physical copies (well, physical boxes with a download code and a collectible pin) to retailers for the PS3. And the NES/SNES was rife with Disney magic, from Mickey Mousecapades to the Disney Afternoon games to the Magical Quest series.
But Sega had one thing that Nintendo didn’t: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. The game was one of the early hits of the 16-bit Sega Genesis, enough to warrant ports to the 8-bit Master System and, later, the handheld Game Gear. Castle of Illusion would go on to spawn three spinoffs on various Sega consoles as well as serve as inspiration for 2012’s Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion on the Nintendo 3DS.
Now, in this gaming era of “everything old is new again,” Sega Studios Australia’s re-imagining of the 1990 platformer reminds us of what brought us into the gamersphere in the first place: a lot of fun, and a little magic.
The 2013 remaster of the game, released on PSN and Xbox Live, follows the same simple premise as the original: Mickey Mouse has to rescue Minnie from the evil witch Mizrabel (who looks a lot like the Old Hag from Snow White), who plans on draining Minnie Mouse of her youth so she can stay young and beautiful. To do this, Mickey has to infiltrate Mizrabel’s Castle of Illusion, where behind every door is a beautiful but dangerous illusion the witch has concocted, ranging from demented toy rooms to haunted forests.
Mickey jumps on enemies as his basic attack, but can also collect projectiles to throw at enemies. In various parts of levels, Mickey may find bonus areas where he can collect various items like statuettes, playing cards, and chili peppers to unlock features around the castle such as new outfits or concept art.
The gameplay itself is pretty solid, and some parts quite challenging. The artwork, as to be expected from a Disney-based game, is superb – it actually cost me a life during a fight with a licorice dragon in a sweet-themed level. I guess I shouldn’t have spent so much time taking in the scenery.
The Narrator is not limited to intro and exposition, and from time to time talks over the action, giving it a storybook feel. He also provides veiled hints, indicating if Mickey missed a collection item in an area, or how to solve a particularly difficult puzzle.
The major negative to the game is the unskippable cutscenes. Normally this isn’t an issue for me, but each boss is preceded by one, and if you die, you have to sit through it again. And for the aforementioned licorice dragon, again. And again. And again. I have a couple of them memorized by now. Please for the love of god, a skip ability would be lovely.
Beyond that, Castle of Illusion presents no serious flaws. But it doesn’t present serious achievements either. It’s straightforward platforming on a 2.5D scale. By no means is it a bad game; it simply reminds me of the 1990 title – simple, no fancy gaming. It’s a great title for Disney fans, retro gamers, or for younger players (though don’t be fooled, it is nice and challenging). The game is a bit on the short side, but at only $14.99 it’s a good solid pick up while waiting for other games to drop.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Platformer – PSN, Xbox Live
Sega Studios Australia, 2013
Rated E for Everyone
Review based on Xbox Live version