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First Impressions: Stepping into the Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Posted by Ron DelVillano

Use your illusion

Disney has been investing a significant amount of effort in recent years to put the quality back into its video game franchises and reach out to more adult gamers. With the Epic Mickey series adopting a somewhat darker tone, and the forthcoming classic remake of DuckTales: Remastered, it’s obvious that the media giant has been paying close attention to its aging fans. Sticking with the apparent plan, Disney Interactive has teamed up with SEGA Studios Australia to create a completely remade version of the fan favourite Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse.

Fans of the original will fondly remember Castle of Illusion as a 16-bit side-scrolling platformer. While the general design in this remade version remains the same, the entire game has received a facelift since the SEGA Genesis days. Movement is still two-dimensional – with the exception of the now 3D castle overworld – but the environments and characters no longer look like flat objects pressed up against one another. The character models are round and smooth, reminiscent of the designs in the more modern Epic Mickey games. The environments are highly detailed and have an actual sense of depth to them, with certain enemies attacking from out of dimension once passed. Besides foes, there are also objects that fall from the background into your path, some even continuing forwards off the screen causing a sort of 3D effect.

Much the same as the graphics, the audio has received a significant upgrade to boot. Along with a more fleshed-out soundtrack, Castle of Illusion now boasts voice-overs that narrate the story, as well as sound effects that help bring the environments and enemies to life. While it may be light-years beyond its predecessor, there are definitely still some sharp edges that could use smoothing, but it’s nothing that a final coat of polish won’t fix.

Though the game’s aesthetics may be from the current generation, certain aspects of the gameplay feel a bit dated. There are many leaps of faith towards far away or hidden ledges that often end up in plummets to your death. There's also a lack of direction in some of the vertical scrolling areas of stages. While some may argue that this encourages exploration, it proves to be more frustrating than anything else, especially when combined with the unnecessary blind jumps over bottomless chasms. While these elements may have been passable and easily ignored 20 years ago in the original game, there's no excuse for them not to be rearranged or fixed in the remake. Nostalgia aside, the gameplay is a bit rough.

The original game was entertaining, but it was over before it began. Difficulty notwithstanding, there were only five stages, resulting in a very short adventure should you have the skills to make it all of the way through. We were unable to confirm whether any new levels will be added to increase the remake’s length, but it's safe to say that the game has not been made any easier. The controls are definitely tighter this time around, but avoiding enemies and timing jumps is still just as challenging as it's always been.

Still, the game very much feels like a work in progress at this point in time. While it's not broken, there are obvious areas that require more work. Fortunately, we suspect that many of these issues will be smoothed out prior to release. With all of the great work that Disney has been doing over the past few years, we’re really looking forward to this one, and hoping that it ends up on par with the original Genesis release.


Are you planning to return to the Castle of Illusion later this year? Are there any other Disney classics that you'd like to see revived? Let us know in the comments section below.

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User Comments (10)

get2sammybAdmin

#1

get2sammyb said:

Great stuff, Ron. I must admit, I never played the original — SHOCK HORROR — so there's no real underlying nostalgia for me here. I do think the revamped art style looks wonderful, though.

Snorky

#3

Snorky said:

I actually played the original an inordinate amount of time, and as excited as I am to see the title, I must admit it doesn't really give the same feeling that the original did. Perhaps something was lost in the 3d translation. That said said the new art style is very pretty so perhaps the game will attract lots of new players as well as us nostalgia hunters.

Still hoping the title will be great though. Along with Ducktales I'm hoping for a rollercoaster ride down memory lane.

Disney's Sega Aladdin game could be a pretty fun remaster thinking about it.

Savino

#4

Savino said:

I played this and quack shot on my mega drive few weeks ago!
Cant wait to play it in this new version!!!

OrbitScant

#5

OrbitScant said:

I have fond memories of playing this on my Megadrive years ago. Mainly because of the wonderful visuals (at the time). Not sure how it will stack up against modern games though what with really good, and cheap indie fare like Stealth Inc around.

Ginkgo

#6

Ginkgo said:

"reach out to more adult gamers" ... "Starring Mickey Mouse"...hmm.

Not saying that adults can't or won't enjoy this game, just if I were a studio trying to appeal to a more adult audience, then Mickey Mouse would not be my first choice of protagonist. But then I have never been a mickey fan even in cartoons. The world moved on a long time ago, just not Disney.

The game does actually look interesting, though I am thinking more for my kids than me. I agree the art style looks great. Will keep an eye out.

get2sammybAdmin

#8

get2sammyb said:

@Ginkgo I don't know about that, people grow up with these characters right? The people that played the original Castle of the Illusion are now well into their twenties - I think that's the point.

Ginkgo

#9

Ginkgo said:

@get2sammyb : You are probably right. Personally I am not particularly nostalgic, but I know most people are. Hopefully this is a good game that appeals to a wider audience.

I would still say that Mickey Mouse is a icon from the 1930s-50s, who doesn't translate meaningfully into the modern era. He was old fashioned even when I was a kid. But perhaps Disney have revamped him and there is a new generation who have rediscovered him. I'm not sure I ever got past his voice.

-CraZed-

#10

-CraZed- said:

I really can't wait to play this with my kids. Castle of Illusion was one of my favorite games as a young buck. I Used my summer job money to buy a TV a Genesis and a hekuva lot of games. Castle of Illusion was among them and I played the heck out it. Can't wait.

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