Classic Gaming Saturdays: Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Classic Gaming Saturdays is a (hopefully) weekly blog post where I focus on a single classic video game and give my own personal perspective on the game, its importance, and whether or not it even holds up. So sit back, relax and maybe get a little nostalgic.

Mickey Mouse is one of the most iconic characters ever created and somehow, someway, he actually got some decent video games. Most games based on famous properties tend to be horrible, but during the 8-bit and 16-bit era, there were plenty of amazing games based on popular properties, especially Disney properties. Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse was one of those games, developed by Sega (specifically AM7, who have developed the first two House of the Dead, Streets of Rage, and Phantasy Star). The main version of the game was produced for the Sega Genesis, with other versions on the Master System and Game Gear (which I won’t be talking about). But does the game actually hold up? Sort of.

The game follows Mickey Mouse on his quest to save Minnie Mouse from the witch Mizrabel. The game contains multiple levels/boss battles and is a basic platformer for the most part. Mickey can collect items to throw at enemies or he can jump on enemies (while pressing down on the D-Pad) to kill (this sounds like a strong word for a game with a Disney character) them. The jump mechanic makes you “bounce” on enemies and you’ll actually have to use that ability in order to jump up to higher platforms. It’s sort of similar to the mechanic found within DuckTales on the NES, it isn’t exactly the same, but it’s the best comparison I can come up with.

Throughout the game’s levels, you are taken to a forest (with some ghosts), a land of toys (with mechanics to flip the world upside down), a waterish level (I mean there’s some water…), a land of candy and desserts (with a dragon licorice boss), a land of books, tea, and letters (I don’t even know…), and a final level of the castle itself. Each level ends with bosses that are fairly simple (although still difficult) and are typical video game bosses, except they seem to have way more health than most, as far as I can tell.

Now that we’ve established what the game is, is it actually good? I mean…it’s okay. It’s such a standard platformer, a run of the mill game in those days. Is it totally worth playing? Absolutely. Some of the game is cheap and a bit painful in terms of trying to lengthen an already really short game, but this was commonplace in this era of games, making games more difficult for the sake of being more difficult. (Although, I played the PS3 port, which basically has save states found on emulators…that might have made the game just a TAD easier.) I’m still impressed any time a game based off a property is actually decent though, which is what impresses me about the game.

But wait, there’s more! They remade the game last year into a 2.5 platformer for PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and (eventually) Mac. And…I actually enjoyed the remake more than the original game! This game sort of reminded me why I loved games in the first place because they’re fun! I know, crazy! The game is certainly easier, but still manages to have some challenge. It does a pretty great job of updating the Genesis game with 2.5/3D platforming sequences that flow really well within the context of the original game. Unfortunately, the game also has very strange frame rate drops and lag that does hinder the experience a tad, but it’s still worth playing. The game is incredibly short just as the Genesis game is, it’s a tad longer, and contains cutscenes that expands the “plot” (I mean…there’s barely a plot…) a bit. But it was just really fun to play a decent, well-designed platformer that isn’t on a Nintendo console (who still manage to make good platformers). I really do support the concept of remaking classic games, especially if they actually end up better than the original game, which I sincerely think the Castle Of Illusion remake is better.

So should you go back and play Castle Of Illusion? Sure, if you want a decent platformer. It isn’t great. It isn’t really a “classic” game. I still would recommend playing the original game and then the remake, simply because it is super cool to see the updated look of an old game. So, to answer the question, does it hold up? Sorta. That’s the best answer I can give.

Author of this post (and the only author ever on this blog):

Jesse Jordon is an aspiring faux writer who writes this garbage on these blogs to make you laugh or learn something I guess. (Wait, why am I mixing 3rd and 1st person point of view when I’m the only one writing this?) You can follow him on Twitter @jjordon96 (if you want I guess). You can also purchase his first self-published book On Human Empathy for only $5.00 (you can buy literature or coffee, it’s up to you to decide. I’d go with the coffee personally). (I think I just said my book was shit.)

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