Think of Mickey Mouse, and what do you see? A grinning, hateful spectre of corporate America. A once-proud icon of children’s innocence raped by greedy fascists. Everybody HATES Mickey Mouse.
Not me, though. No matter what he does, I’ll always forgive him. For he brought unto me the greatest game ever made. Yes. The greatest game ever made.
Here’s the story: Mickey Mouse’s girlfriend, Minnie (basically, him in drag), is kidnapped by the wicked witch Mizrabel. Mickey must gather the seven gems of the rainbow and rescue her. Minnie, that is. Not the witch.
For a start, the controls are perfect. You press button 2 to jump. You press button 1 to perform a bounce attack. You also press button 1 to pick up and throw. Anyone who has a problem with these controls is a moron, a liar, or some sort of amputee.
Now, to the untrained eye, Castle of Illusion is a bog-standard platform game. However, playing this game is an experience that can only truly be likened to bathing in chocolate with Angelina Jolie. The imagination and childlike whimsy in this game could fill a…pretty big hole. But I digress. This game is FUN. REALLY fun. Think of a game you find fun and triple it. Now add 5. That’s how FUN this game is.
Mickey’s journeys take him through a forest, a toy factory, a chocolate factory, a library, a clock tower, and finally a castle. Each stage is packed with hidden treasure, crafty traps, and clever touches. In the toy factory, for example, Mickey is assaulted by remote control planes. Attacking the planes merely freezes them for a few seconds, but locating and destroying the remote control takes out all the offenders.
The difficulty level is easy to moderate. The game opens with a selection—you can pick “Practice” or “Normal” difficulty. “Practice” is offensively easy, so you’ll be bypassing that one. The game can be cleared in about an hour if you know what you’re doing. But that’s not the point. This game is so beautifully judged, every time you play is a joy. The learning curve is so subtle, you never feel anything is unsurpassable.
The music is memorable and appropriate. I defy anyone to play through the game and not find themselves humming at least one of the tunes. The sound effects are fine, with the notable exception of Mickey’s “jump” sound. In theory it works, but it sounds…off-key. And since this is the sound that you will be hearing the most in this game, this is something of a failing.
The visuals are crisp and colourful. The sprites have character, and Mickey himself is a loveable little scamp. Bosses are impressively meaty (not to mention INGENIOUS), and the backgrounds on most levels, particularly the clock tower, are impressive.
I don’t know whether I’m blinded with nostalgia (this game was the first game I received), but I have continuously returned to this game for over ten years, and have never become sick of it. This is either a testament to the game’s replay value, or a testament to my intense patheticness. Any which way, this game is buckets o’ fun.
Got a Master System? Get this. Not got a Master System? Get one, THEN get this.