Following the Best Game Ever Made (not a matter of opinion) must have been a difficult task for Sega, but money talks, so they gave it a good try. This game is the result.
“How can we improve Castle of Illusion?” they asked. “Maybe we could add a Mario-esque map?” replied one of the designers. In it went. “Maybe some special items, and more of a plot!” In it went. “A few more hidden secrets, and jack up the difficulty!” In it went. As a result, this platform game feels a little like a grab-bag at times, but it is still excellent gaming.
Minnie has been kidnapped—AGAIN—by an evil Phantom! He whisks her to his trap-laden castle to do unspeakably evil things to her, probably. Mickey, predictably, must rescue her.
The controls remain the same as the original, except for the addition of the Shrinking Potion acquired about halfway through the game. This is activated by pressing DOWN + Button 2, and can all too easily be accidentally used in frantic combat.
Control niggles aside, this game is fun to play—important above all other elements of a game package. Mickey’s adventure is addictive (if occasionally frustrating), and you’ll want to see it through to the end. The variety on display is impressive for the Master System—from the (stunningly easy) puzzle at the end of Level One to the scaling of vulture-plagued cliffs later in the game, the programmers continually throw surprise after surprise at you.
The difficulty level is higher than its predecessor’s. Some of the bosses (one in particular springs to mind) are nightmarishly hard to beat, and the final few levels are fairly brutal. Persevere, however, and you’ll be rewarded. The final couple of levels are some of the most fun you’ll have on an 8-bit console. The game takes all the elements it’s drip-fed you so far and rams them all down your throat at once, choking you on brilliance.
The music is passable throughout, hummable and appropriate. Nothing leaps out at you like the first game, however. The sound effects are identical to those appearing in Castle of Illusion, as is the graphical style. The sprites are undoubtedly meatier, and there are many more frames of animation. Everything visible is crisp and colourful beyond what the Master System is supposedly capable of. In fact, this is the best-looking game on the system, by far.
You may or may not come back to this, depending on how much you enjoy it first time ’round. I personally come back frequently; I am convinced there are secret treasures and bonuses I have yet to find. This game is worth a purchase if you are a platformer fan. It may be tough to find, but it’s worth the effort. Highly recommended.