One of the highlights of the early days of the Sega Genesis in the 16-bit years was Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (this was even before Sonic the Hedgehog). Now, more than 20 years later, we get a direct sequel with Power of Illusion, which takes elements of the classic game and mixes them with gameplay ideas from the more recent Epic Mickey series. One day, in the Wasteland, a place where forgotten cartoon stars go, a mysterious castle appeared. It was the evil witch Mizrabel’s Castle of Illusion, and she’s none too happy about being forgotten! So she uses her magic to kidnap famous cartoon characters and traps them in her castle, in a plan to steal their heart power so she can go back to the toon world. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, caretaker of the Wasteland, calls upon Mickey Mouse once again to infiltrate her castle, rescue the toon-napped prisoners, and foil Mizrabel’s evil plans!
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is a 2-D platform jumping adventure. Mickey retains all his moves from the classic game. He can jump and stomp on enemies (just make sure to press the B button again like in the old game), as well as perform a short range spin attack to dispatch nearby foes. Mickey also picks up some new tricks he learned in his Epic Mickey adventures. Armed with his magic paintbrush, Mickey can shoot paint or thinner to damage enemies. If an enemy is defeated with thinner, they’ll leave behind E-Tickets. If they are hit with paint, they’ll leave behind hearts to refill your energy. Sometimes, on the bottom screen, you can use your stylus to draw outlines to make blocks, cannons, and other useful items appear, or you can use thinner to erase some obstacles in your way.
The graphics are extremely detailed and the animation is super fluid (Mickey’s paintbrush even dribbles as he walks and jumps). Even the music sounds orchestrated. As you explore the 2-D stages, you’ll tromp through illusions in the castle based on classic Disney worlds like Peter Pan, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. Hidden in these worlds are cartoon stars. When you find and rescue them, they’ll all congregate in a fortress in the castle, a safe haven from Mizrabel’s evil spells. Between stages, you can visit this fortress to talk to the cartoon characters and take on quests that can net you more E-Tickets and other goodies. Spend the E-Tickets you collect at Scrooge McDuck’s store to buy upgrades for your health and paint meters. You’ll rescue all sorts of classic Disney stars, including Donald, Goofy, Snow White, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Simba, even Rapunzel from Tangled! It’s a Disney fan’s dream come true!
Unfortunately, Power of Illusion isn’t without its problems. Like many 16-bit platformers back in the day, Power of Illusion can be rather frustrating and difficult sometimes. And I wish they would’ve made the text bigger in the game, you’ll go blind trying to read the tiny letters! Plus, with only ten stages, the game is rather short, even if you can go revisit earlier levels to find more items and lost toons. But Disney lovers who enjoy classic 2-D platformers may want to check this one out anyway.
Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Cartoon Violence. Mickey just jumps on enemies and splashes paint at them, and defeated foes just fall off the screen. Reading ability is a must for all the text. Younger gamers and less experienced players might get frustrated, as the game requires adept 2-D platforming skills and lots of patience. It’s best for older kids, really.