Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse was released for the Sega Genesis during the Xmas season in 1990, a drastically different version appeared on the 8-Bit console (maybe I will look back at that one another day!)

Okay, this game sort of came out of left field! The Genesis was supposed to be a "Big Brother" system as opposed to the "kiddy" NES at the time, so when it was announced that a Mickey Mouse game was on the release slate, most folks kind of groaned. Sure, Disney games were making the rounds quite respectably on the NES (Capcom churned out a bunch of decent Mega Man engine-feeling titles) but Mickey Mouse wasn't really an IP that inspired much excitement. Well, little did we know-

The game was your basic platformer, Mario-inspired shtick - walk to the right, jump on things to kill them, don't fall into holes, etc. The gimmick here was when you butt-stomped, you'd bounce off and could get a little extra hang-time - also you could pick up apples, or other items, to dispatch your foes. Certainly nothing revolutionary, but the game was laid out well enough that even seasoned vets could get a kick out of the designs (if they weren't terribly challenging - though on hard mode, it was not exactly a breeze, either!)

Of course, the real big gimmick here was the graphics - this title released fairly early into the Genesis' lifespan, a full year before we'd see the Super Nintendo console launch over here - so compared to any other platformers available, this game looked really, really solid. Lots of detailed, colorful worlds, it was very well done and still stands as a good-looking example of a charater action game done right. All the enemies are well-designed and full of character, the bosses are creepy and interesting, the whole game is quite lively. The music is properly "cartoony" as well and only adds to the atmosphere, each "world" has it's own theme and they are all fun to play through and look at.

It was a shame we didn't see more games of this caliber on the Genesis, Sonic and his ilk launched shortly afterward - while not a bad thing, they definitely changed the pace of what character action games meant on the system and overall they got more gimmicky and focused on some cheesy character's "attitude" rather than fundamentally building a well-playing, 8-Bit style of game complemented by lush 16-bit graphics.

This team (I dunno their name) also seems to be the one responsible or Donald Duck: Quackshot (an inferior game if you ask me) and the Genesis Ghostbusters (not of the same pedigree as Castle of Illusion, but still quite well done). I would not expect this title to make it onto Virtual Console - very worth hunting down a cartridge, however!

HeadcaseGames is putting the finishing touches on our debut release for your iPhone! We expect to submit to the appstore very shortly - keep an eye out for our first game, iFist!

1 comment:

  1. Castle Of Illusion was probably one of my favorite Genesis platformers. I think it says a lot that the developers could take a "kiddie" property and make such a solid game that could appeal to a wide range of players. Besides, how could you not love a game where you get to jump around in jello?