It would seem that classic games are making a comeback. Just recently, Capcom released a remastered version of its critically acclaimed NES platformer, Ducktales, to the elation of fans everywhere. Sega has taken things a step further by releasing a re-imagining of the Sega Genesis classic, Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse.
Walt Disney’s iconic mouse has appeared infrequently in video games over the years. Gamers old enough to remember the 16-bit console era will recall that Land of Illusion was released on both the Sega Master System and Game Gear handheld. World of Illusion starring Micky Mouse and Donald Duck was released for the Sega Genesis some time later.
Sega’s re-imagining of Castle of Illusion is a brilliant example of how to revive a classic IP without losing its charm in the process. The game starts with Mickey and Minnie enjoying a picnic lunch underneath a tree. Without warning, a violent thunderstorm fills the blue sky with darkness. Before Mickey and Minnie can determine the source of the storm, the evil witch Mizrabel appears. She imprisons Minnie inside a bubble and whisks her away to the Castle of Illusion. Determined to save his companion, Mickey chases Mizrabel into the dark, ominous castle where the unknown awaits.
The castle has five chambers that contain three rooms each, equaling a total of fifteen levels. These rooms must be played in order and they will only unlock when enough diamonds are collected from a previous level. A boss battle awaits at the end of the final chamber. Once a boss is defeated, Mickey is awarded one of five magic crystals needed to reach Mizrabel’s tower.
The gameplay is comprised of classic platforming as you traverse crumbling platforms, solve puzzles by jumping onto rock buttons, and attack your enemies with a variety of candies and other projectiles. The castle itself is adorned with dangerous obstacles as you climb giant spinning cogs, swing on lamp chains, and slide down wet passageways to avoid being crushed by gigantic boulders. During later levels, your reflexes are put to the test as you travel through long hallways with suits of armor that attack with their lances, and wooden platforms that vanish underneath your feet.
The game contains a variety of levels that range from a haunted forest to murky, underwater passageways. The Library level, in particular, has you chasing a shadow version of Mickey as you avoid giant books that slide from their shelves. This level also connects to a confectionery wonderland where the landscape is made from oversized cakes, marshmallows and lollipops. Red licorice dolphins swim through a vanilla milkshake pond and the platforms are enormous whoopee pies. The library is just a small example of the imaginative content found in Castle of Illusion.
The controls are relatively simple and easy to pick up as Mickey’s abilities involve jumping and throwing projectiles at his enemies. While responsive through most of the game, the controls seem to be plagued by a slight delay during the underwater sequences. Trying to avoid schools of bone fish or barrels being swept away by the underwater current, can be an exercise in tedium. It’s difficult to determine if this ‘delay’ is deliberate or the fault of the controls; it doesn’t happen during the other levels.
Castle of Illusion contains numerous secrets that are just waiting to be found. Some secrets are located on platforms that are just out of jumping distance, and jumping on the head of an enemy is all that is required to reach them. Most secrets contain extra lives and additional diamonds to help unlock new levels.
While Castle of Illusion’s graphics are primarily seen from a 2.5D perspective, it’s not uncommon for them to switch to a 3D perspective during a chase sequence or when Mickey is sliding down a tunnel. Even boss battles use both perspectives, but very sparingly. Sega has somehow found a balance that works extremely well.
Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse is the most surprising title of the year. It not only manages to maintain the nostalgia of the original game, but the addictive gameplay as well. This is one game that every gamer should own even if they haven’t played the original.
Platform: Playstation 3
ESRB: E (Everyone)
|Beautiful 3D graphics that do the franchise justice.|
|Cute sound effects, classic Mickey Mouse mannerisms, and a memorable soundtrack.|
|Like the Sega Genesis version, the gameplay is addictive and challenging.|
|This is one platformer that every gamer should own.|