When people think of the classic 16-bit SEGA Genesis game console, what springs to mind first is usually Sonic the Hedgehog. But did you know that the Genesis was out in stores for more than a full year before Sonic was even a thought? During this time, early adopters had fond memories of games like the arcade classic pack-in Altered Beast, or Alex Kidd and the Enchanted Castle. But probably one of the best 2-D platformers during the pre-Sonic Genesis days featured another rodent: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. A year ago, I was lucky enough to review a direct sequel on the 3DS: Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion. Now SEGA has gone back and remade the original game with improved 3-D visuals, sound, voices, and gameplay, and re-released it as a remake for download on PS3, 360, and PC (PS3 version reviewed here).
Just as in the original game, the evil witch Mizrabel kidnaps Minnie and Mickey gives chase to rescue her. Now he must infiltrate the witch’s Castle of Illusion, a fortress filled with traps and magic, as he collects seven rainbow gems to reach her tower and rescue his sweetheart. Mickey can jump, stomp on enemies, and throw projectiles in this 2-D platforming adventure.
SEGA took a different approach to remaking Castle of Illusion than what Capcom did with their DuckTales: Remastered title. While the DuckTales game was nearly exactly like the NES classic, SEGA took a few creative liberties with their remake. The levels aren’t recreated EXACTLY like the Genesis game, but fans will recall familiar stages, enemies, and obstacles. They’ve made certain levels longer and better, not to mention more accessible and playable for today’s gamers. Some parts, like the castle hub, boss battles, and certain challenges, even change to be more like a 3-D platformer! And of course, they’ve improved the graphics, sound, and added voice acting, too.
It’s a shame that the remake is so short and breezy, as you might zip through it and not notice all the wonderfully detailed 3-D graphics and small touches. The only other problem is that sometimes the 3-D sections can feel slightly wonky. But luckily there is plenty of replay value after you beat the game. By collecting diamonds scattered about the levels, you can unlock concept art and other goodies. Can you find them all? Other hidden items include statues, playing cards, and chili peppers which can unlock new outfits for Mickey and more. If you don’t consider the original game to be a sacred cow that can’t be changed, and don’t mind a few creative liberties (that end up making the game better anyway), then you should definitely download this remake. It’s one of the best Mickey Mouse games I’ve played in a while.
This isn’t Playhouse Disney’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, and younger gamers might get frustrated at some of the more difficult jumping obstacles and boss battles. But the game is still easy enough that older kids who are seasoned in 2-D and 3-D platforming game skills should be able to beat the game without too much trouble. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence. Mickey can stomp enemies to defeat them, but they just fall apart, disappear, or fall down with dizzy stars when hit. If Mickey runs out of energy, he just disappears and comes back ready to go again at the last checkpoint. Overall I think it’s a great game that kids will enjoy anyway.