If you were one of the lucky ones who actually got a chance to sit down and play with a Sega Genesis, then you might remember the original Castle of Illusion. It featured Walt Disney’s most famous creation Mickey going through crazy and colorful side-scrolling stages in order to rescue Minnie from the hands of evil witch Mizrabel. While childish in nature, the platforming was anything but, as it constantly challenged players with tough jumping sections, hidden collectables and a myriad of foes and bosses. That was back in 1990.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Developed by Sega Studios Australia / Published by Sega
Available on the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360. Reviewed on the Xbox 360.
*Review code provided by Sega
Fast forward 23 years later, and Sega Studios Australia has given gamers a second chance with the remake Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse HD. Featuring updated graphics, a couple of new gameplay additions and cutscenes, is this re-release good enough the second time around?
Castle of Illusion follows the same storyline of the original, but it’s easier to follow this time thanks to a narrator. Mickey and Minnie go out for a picnic, when all of a sudden Mizrabel, and old hag who wants to be beautiful again, kidnaps Minnie. Now it’s up to Mickey to ascend the eponymous castle in order to get her back and put evil back in its place.
The first thing you’ll notice right off the bat is the fantastic update to the game’s visuals. The original game was chockfull of colorful sprites and static backgrounds, but this time around everything is fully 3D and the backgrounds are teeming with animation and movement. It’s a really good-looking game, and it does a great job at emulating Disney cartoons.
Gameplay is a mixture of new and old elements. The 2D side-scrolling nature of the original returns, tasking players with jumping across platforms and gaps, avoiding enemies and defeating them with collectable projectiles or bopping them on their heads, collecting gems for points, and battling bosses at the end of each stage. This new version alters the classic formula up a bit by including top-down sections where Mickey can move around freely, which add a lot of dimension to the game’s boss battles, and hidden collectables like statues and Donald’s hot peppers, which reward players with new outfits for everyone’s favorite mouse. There’s also access to a hub world (similar to Mario 64) in which Mickey can navigate the Castle of Illusion and move from stage to stage.
Just like its predecessor, the gameplay in Castle of Illusion is fast, fun, and challenging. Getting across levels and collecting gems may seem like a simple task at first, but stages quickly increase in difficulty, really testing the skill of players as they navigate trap-filled worlds and respawning enemies. Thankfully, the controls are solid enough to allow players to get across these obstacles with ease. At times the controls might feel a bit floaty, which leads to players missing a shot with the projectiles or falling to their deaths by missing smaller platforms, but it’s usually not an issue.
The reworked boss battles are quite enjoyable. Thanks to the added dimensions, boss encounters are more challenging than ever as players have to move or leap around a closed environment in order to avoid enemy attacks until the chance to strike back is present. The battles are pretty similar to the original encounters back in the Genesis, but the new viewpoints make them feel fresh.
Another new addition is the availability of secret rooms hidden in stages. These new areas don’t really alter gameplay in any significant way, but they offer players stuff to hunt for, like playing cards or other collectables.
While Castle of Illusion is a fantastic remake of the original, it does suffer from the same problem: the length. Each level is composed of two stages and a boss battle, and there are five levels in total and one final boss. While this seems like a decent amount at first, you’ll quickly find yourself breezing through the campaign in no time. Collecting everything in the game, like gems or hidden items, extends the playtime a bit, but it really doesn’t excuse the short playtime. The original version of the game would have been a nice add-on, but unfortunately it isn’t included.
In the end, Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse is a fantastic remake of the 1990’s classic, bringing forth nice visuals, solid gameplay and a healthy amount of challenge. Unfortunately though, it’s a bit on the short side, ending sooner than you would imagine. If you’re into Disney and love platformers, or want to revisit the titular castle, then you might want to take Mickey’s latest adventure for a spin.
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