Believe it or not there was a platforming game that took the Sega Megadrive by storm before the days of everyone’s favorite high speed blue hedgehog. That game was Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse and I used to spend hours playing the game back in the day. SEGA have now released a HD Remake of the retro classic for PSN, XBLA and PC – so does this HD re-imaging tick all the boxes and give us retro gamers the nostalgia we need?
Like many platforming games of the early 90’s the story of Castle Of Illusion is a simple one. Minnie Mouse gets abducted by the evil old witch Mizrabel and it is up to Mickey to save her from the Castle of Illusion before she steals Minnie’s youth and leaves her as old and ugly as she is. You then have to play though a series of levels in order to obtain seven Rainbow Gems in order to gain access to Mizrabel’s tower. So as you can see it’s a very basic storyline but the games charm lies more within the gameplay than the narrative.
If you’re a fan of the original games you’re going to notice slight changes and new additions right from the start. For instance, this time around the Castle Of Illusion itself acts like a level hub. Much like Mario 64, Mickey can now explore the castle and choose a level to complete. Levels are unlocked by collecting gems and these gems can be found within levels or in the castle itself, it is a great way to unlock levels as it encourages you to explore levels in attempt to collect every single gem.
Controlling Mickey will become second nature for both seasoned platform gamers and new comers alike. Movement consists of mainly running and jumping with the occasional rope thrown in to swing on or swimming section. What you may find is that Mickey can slide about quite a bit making some of the later platforming sections quite frustrating. For example if you are jumping on a series of disappearing platforms and Mickey decides to slide off the end of the last platform, more often that not this means you would have to start the whole sequence again.
Frustrating jumping sections aside, jumping can also be used to defeat enemies. As you would expect from a classic platformer, you defeat enemies by simply jumping on their head. Mickey also has the ability to use enemies like a trampoline, once you land on an enemies head press the jump button a second time and Mickey will launch into the air. It’s a neat little trick that can really help you collect those hard to reach collectables and can also rack up bonus points should you land on several enemies.
If jumping on enemies heads isn’t for you then you can collect throw-able items throughout each level. These can be simply thrown at enemies in order to defeat them. Projectiles can also be used to solve puzzles and destroy obstacles that are in Mickey’s way. There have been some new mini games added to this Castle Of Illusion remake which utilize the games new 3D perspective which mixes up the gameplay nicely. There are also some new unlockables such as Statues for the Castle and new costumes for Mickey which is a nice touch for gamers who are all too familiar with the original Sega Megadrive game.
+ Great 3D visuals
+ Inclusion of mini games adds mixes up the gameplay
+ Unlockables such as costumes and statues for the castle
- Slidey jump mechanics can be quite frustrating
All in all Castle Of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse is a great tribute to a game that I spent hours completing back on the Mega Drive. With the added Mini-games and the new 3D feel it is a great remake that both fans and new comers should try out.