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"[GAME] Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (MegaDrive)"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Mickey Mouses Castle Of Illusion'.
Wed 23/03/11 at 00:03
Regular
"Tip The Scales"
Posts: 869
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (MegaDrive) Review

Hello and welcome to Highflyer’s Retrospect, where I look back at games which defined previous generations of consoles (or just graced them) and try to remind everyone why we loved the game (and why we didn’t) and how it stands up now. It may come as a surprise to none of you that, most of the time, I have a reason or motive for choosing the game that I happen to pick to do retrospective reviews for. Sonic The Hedgehog came from the release of Sonic 4 (and the upcoming release of Sonic The Hedgehog to PSN), for example. This was originally meant to be released to coincide with Epic Mickey’s release (it had slightly irked me that it had been claimed to be the first game to be graced with Mickey in a starring role), but I well missed that deadline...

Anyway, enough rambling. Castle of Illusion was released for the SEGA Megadrive in 1990, back in the age when “kids games” were not at all bad and in fact were generally some of the best games for the system. The game follows Mickey Mouse (surprisingly) on a quest to save Minnie from the hands of the incredibly jealous Mizrabel by obtaining the 7 gems to form a bridge to her castle to confront her. Whilst the story isn’t exactly amazing or original, it does the job of giving some sort of reasoning behind the game, and that’s all that’s required of it.

As was typical for the time, Castle of Illusion is a stomp-heavy side-scrolling platform game: move from the start toward the exit, follow the path, collect the goodies and defeat the enemies; a fairly simple affair. For defeating the enemies, there is two options, either jump on their heads (and that’s absolutely their heads, the sides loses health) or throw some of the collected projectiles. The gameplay is rather slow compared to the majority of it’s competitors, and whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can feel a little lethargic and unresponsive at times.

With a name like “Castle of Illusion”, you’d be forgiven for expecting some rather wacky levels, and within the rooms of the castle, there’s certainly some variety, if nothing else. From ancient ruins to forests to toy boxes, the levels took up some interesting places, and with them their own pitfalls and enemies. But in all cases the levels are beautifully designed with some nice little head-scratching puzzles thrown in to stop the game being a full on stroll through, as well as packing in a fair few secret areas for the completionists to search for (I found a new one myself whilst writing this review).

Graphically the game is stellar for the generation of games and the console it was on. The sprites are lovingly designed and animated, bringing a certain character and belief to the game being played (the innocence portrayed in Mickey’s idle stance is astounding, and truly a Disney staple) whereas the parallax scrolling backgrounds are as good as any game available on the system. Both of these come together to form an aesthetically pleasing experience.

The music in Castle of Illusion is brilliant: managing to balance the up-tempo, upbeat jingles with the ability to set the mood of the surroundings. As essential to a children’s game, the sense of danger is portrayed in a way that is partially obvious but not off-putting; it’s a neat trick but seems to work here. This is also evident in the normal sounds played within game, where the squeak of being hit sounds near painless, and the loss of all health is accompanied by a spiral away and a small jingle.

The words “Mario clone” get thrown around a lot when it comes to side-scrolling platformers (perhaps not as often as GTA clone does to sandbox games, but I digress), but Castle of Illusion is definitely more than that. It stands up on it’s own as a good game in it’s own right, with a beautiful coat of polish and an air of charm that isn’t lost on any age. And whilst it’s gameplay is a little on the slow side, the relaxed pace allows for a thoroughly enjoyable game for those gamers who aren’t adrenaline junkies.

Rating: 9.0/10

Reviewers Note: I have a feeling that nowadays, the checkpoint system that’s in place with Castle of Illusion may be slightly irritating for younger players who may be used to a slightly more lenient game. It can be a little harsh in a few places where the difficulty curve does go a little odd. The inability to use continues might also be an annoyance.
Fri 01/04/11 at 20:32
Regular
"Monochromatic"
Posts: 18,487
My favourite platformer ever.
Wed 23/03/11 at 00:03
Regular
"Tip The Scales"
Posts: 869
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (MegaDrive) Review

Hello and welcome to Highflyer’s Retrospect, where I look back at games which defined previous generations of consoles (or just graced them) and try to remind everyone why we loved the game (and why we didn’t) and how it stands up now. It may come as a surprise to none of you that, most of the time, I have a reason or motive for choosing the game that I happen to pick to do retrospective reviews for. Sonic The Hedgehog came from the release of Sonic 4 (and the upcoming release of Sonic The Hedgehog to PSN), for example. This was originally meant to be released to coincide with Epic Mickey’s release (it had slightly irked me that it had been claimed to be the first game to be graced with Mickey in a starring role), but I well missed that deadline...

Anyway, enough rambling. Castle of Illusion was released for the SEGA Megadrive in 1990, back in the age when “kids games” were not at all bad and in fact were generally some of the best games for the system. The game follows Mickey Mouse (surprisingly) on a quest to save Minnie from the hands of the incredibly jealous Mizrabel by obtaining the 7 gems to form a bridge to her castle to confront her. Whilst the story isn’t exactly amazing or original, it does the job of giving some sort of reasoning behind the game, and that’s all that’s required of it.

As was typical for the time, Castle of Illusion is a stomp-heavy side-scrolling platform game: move from the start toward the exit, follow the path, collect the goodies and defeat the enemies; a fairly simple affair. For defeating the enemies, there is two options, either jump on their heads (and that’s absolutely their heads, the sides loses health) or throw some of the collected projectiles. The gameplay is rather slow compared to the majority of it’s competitors, and whilst this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can feel a little lethargic and unresponsive at times.

With a name like “Castle of Illusion”, you’d be forgiven for expecting some rather wacky levels, and within the rooms of the castle, there’s certainly some variety, if nothing else. From ancient ruins to forests to toy boxes, the levels took up some interesting places, and with them their own pitfalls and enemies. But in all cases the levels are beautifully designed with some nice little head-scratching puzzles thrown in to stop the game being a full on stroll through, as well as packing in a fair few secret areas for the completionists to search for (I found a new one myself whilst writing this review).

Graphically the game is stellar for the generation of games and the console it was on. The sprites are lovingly designed and animated, bringing a certain character and belief to the game being played (the innocence portrayed in Mickey’s idle stance is astounding, and truly a Disney staple) whereas the parallax scrolling backgrounds are as good as any game available on the system. Both of these come together to form an aesthetically pleasing experience.

The music in Castle of Illusion is brilliant: managing to balance the up-tempo, upbeat jingles with the ability to set the mood of the surroundings. As essential to a children’s game, the sense of danger is portrayed in a way that is partially obvious but not off-putting; it’s a neat trick but seems to work here. This is also evident in the normal sounds played within game, where the squeak of being hit sounds near painless, and the loss of all health is accompanied by a spiral away and a small jingle.

The words “Mario clone” get thrown around a lot when it comes to side-scrolling platformers (perhaps not as often as GTA clone does to sandbox games, but I digress), but Castle of Illusion is definitely more than that. It stands up on it’s own as a good game in it’s own right, with a beautiful coat of polish and an air of charm that isn’t lost on any age. And whilst it’s gameplay is a little on the slow side, the relaxed pace allows for a thoroughly enjoyable game for those gamers who aren’t adrenaline junkies.

Rating: 9.0/10

Reviewers Note: I have a feeling that nowadays, the checkpoint system that’s in place with Castle of Illusion may be slightly irritating for younger players who may be used to a slightly more lenient game. It can be a little harsh in a few places where the difficulty curve does go a little odd. The inability to use continues might also be an annoyance.

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