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Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse HD [REVIEW]

Overall Feeling: 

Sega remakes one of their successful 2D side-scrollers with a complete overhaul of graphics and gameplay. The story is the same, and the goals are the same: Rescue Minnie from the evil witch by collecting all the different colored gems, each guarded by a big boss at the end of every level. The gameplay is a mix between classic side-scrolling elements, very similar to that of the original game for the Genesis, and a 3D mechanic that is very reminiscent of Mario 64. The typical, easy enemies and basic platforming is not something that is going to blow you away, nor is it anything that we haven't seen before, but there is charm to be had here, nonetheless. Castle of Illusion HD does enough things differently to distance itself from the swarms of platformers found throughout downloads, and if you were a big fan of the original, it just might be worth a look into this time around.

The Pros: 

+ Strong artwork and sound editing add to its charm.
+ Easy to pick up and play.
+ Unlockable outfits helps add to the replay value.

The Cons: 

- $14.99 seems a little steep for about a three hour game.
- Platforming can feel floaty and get frustrating fast.
- No real gameplay mechanics will challenge you throughout. Rating : 

I played a lot of Sega Genesis growing up. A lot. The wave of nostalgia that hit me when I saw that Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse was getting a remake was rather large. I'm a sucker for old platformers, and very much so for Sega ones. It wasn't long into the opening cinematic of the game that I realized this remake is going to be quite different than the original I remembered playing with my brother.

The game starts off the same: Mickey and Minnie holding hands on a picnic out in a field, only the artwork is completely updated and there is a calming voice-over explaining the obvious of what’s happening on screen. Minnie, of course, gets captured by the evil witch and it's up to Mickey to go into the witch's Castle of Illusion and save her. You are now tasked with collecting all of the colored gems to create the "rainbow bridge" and get to Minnie and stop the evil witch.

This is where the gameplay starts. On your side-scrolling way to the castle, you get your first feel for the mechanics of this updated game. The first thing you will notice are the graphics. The complete overhaul looks good, and the mix between the Disney-like cartoon popping colors, and the 3D elements blend nicely together. All of the same mechanics are here, from jumping on an enemy's head to squash them and get to higher ground, to throwing apples and other objects at enemies to end them from afar. Even the jumping from rope to rope is back in full swing (that pun wasn't intended, but now I'm keeping it). Nothing has been complicated, and the only mechanics you need to concern yourself with are jumping at the right time, and throwing inanimate objects.

It's at the end of the first level where the game throws a 3D shaped curve ball at you. Once you make it to the castle doors, the game simply allows you to walk up, over the draw-bridge, and becomes a Mario 64-like experience (complete with paintings on the castle's walls to look at). This threw me off at first as it seamlessly turned into a 3D world, with all of the same mechanics in place, and except for some different judgment in depth, felt the same.

The castle serves as your base of operation, of sorts. It's here where you will get to run around and go through different doors, which represent the different levels, and see your stats and collectibles that you have gained throughout Mickey's adventure. At the beginning, you only have access to the first room. Each room has three acts in it, with the last being a boss fight to collect the colored gem of that room. You unlock rooms by collecting little gems that are found throughout each act, which amalgamate to a total of eight hundred. I was able to collect around six hundred on my first play-through without replaying any of the levels. There are various other collectibles throughout to help add to the completionist-style gamer, and can be used to unlock different outfits for Mickey to use later on.

The acts, themselves, are fairly basic. Each room looks different than the last, and you will face new enemies throughout, but after you have completed the first two rooms, nothing will ever really change or challenge you. They mix it up at first between your average platforming and adding things like water levels, or a Raiders of the Lost Ark boulder chase scene that takes advantage of the newly designed 3D elements.

After you have experienced those little bits of fun, it becomes routine. Enter the door, jump on enemies heads, find secrets along the way, throw some apples at the baddies, and get on to the next one. It's not to say that you can turn your brain off completely, as some of the platforming does take quite a bit of attention and precision to pull off. Every time you fall off a ledge, miss a jump, or get hit by an enemy, Mickey loses one star of his health. Lose all of these and you will then lose a life. You can find extra lives throughout, and one will always respawn once back at the castle, but there were still a few times where I was frustrated enough that I kept rushing, lost all of my lives, and realized I had to select continue and replay the entirety of the level.

The big gameplay changes come in the third act of each room. It's here where you will face the bosses of each section. The game does a decent job of making each boss feel different than the last, and its here where they use the 3D aspect rather well. From a giant clockmaker with a hammer that you have to run all around the room to avoid getting hit, to a red licorice Dragon that has you jumping between platforms from 2D to 3D to hit on the head, it's in these segments where they are trying to take advantage of the redesign. Some are definitely better than others, but it all really came down to knowing their routines, and what they switch each time you hit them once. You will have to hit each boss around five or six times to put them down for good.

The last boss of the game is the witch, and it is the one I had the most difficult time defeating. Once you have collected all of the gems to make the rainbow bridge, you can face the witch at the top of the tower and save Minnie. By the time I got to her, I had one life left, and only three stars to my health. Needless to say, I had to replay quite a few times before I saw to her ultimate demise.

I cleared the game in about three and half hours in one play through. I didn't finish any of the individual collectibles, nor did I play any of the time attack modes that unlock once a level has been beaten. Even though I had my moments where I kept missing a jump, or a boss getting the better of me, none of it was actually challenging, and just took me a second to learn the routines and the surroundings to overcome. You will probably die the most during any of the 3D platforming, as the jumping turns a touch floaty and feels less tight than when simply side-scrolling.

Castle of Illusion HD might feel a little steep at $14.99, but fans of the original, and fans of platformers that mix things up a little, still might want to check this title out. Between the art style and the charming voice-over that happens throughout the gameplay, telling the narrative, there was enough here to keep me satisfied, and to not be too upset that I stopped playing Grand Theft Auto V for a while to enjoy this small, yet satisfying reimagined title.


Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Publisher: Sega, Disney Interactive
Developer: Sega Studios Australia
Platforms: Xbox Live (Reviewed), PlayStation Network
Release Date: September 4, 2013
Price: $14.99