Hey gang, Valkor here. September has shown to be quite the month for remastered throwbacks of classic gaming titles. First out of the box was Capcom's DuckTales: Remastered; I'll admit I was quite surprised by the announcement, but pleased by the outcome – and so was Alacran, who garnished the title with TOV 4 stars. Next up is Sega, whose previous digital updates (Nights, Daytona USA) were most impressive HD updates and pleased the classic gamer in me. Now they've dipped into the 16bit era with a remake of their 1990s classic - Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. And much like DuckTales, I totally wasn't expecting it but I was pleased with the end results.
Castles of Illusion follows the same premise as its 16bit older sibling, but with much updated graphics, sounds and a few other enhancements to extend the fun and complete the experience. The story is the same but further fleshed out with a voice narration; Mickey and Minnie Mouse were hanging out one day, until the evil witch Mizrabel spoils their fun, kidnapping Minnie and taking her to her castle. It's now all up to Mickey to brave the Castle of Illusion to rescue Minnie before Mizrabel sucks up her beauty.
Players will guide Mickey through five stages of play, each stage broken into three acts where the third act is the final boss. Each stage is an HD upgrade from its flat 16bit original, which now mixes 2D/2.5D platforming as well 3D elements of play, in an highly fleshed out world. Your main attack against the baddies is Mickey's "butt bounce", but you can also toss stage specific items at enemies such as apples, marbles, and wax candles. The final boss will truly tax your fingers, but they're easy to defeat once you recognize their pattern of attack. And when you fully complete a stage (including defeating the level's boss), you'll be taken back to the castle where you'll unlock the next stage. In the original, the castle was more like a transition from stage to stage, but in this version the castle is fully realized and can be explored completely. All stages are locked until you complete a stage and collect enough diamonds, which are scattered about in each world, to open the next. There are also additional items you can track down such as playing cards and chili peppers, which unlock different costumes for Mickey.
Finally, Castle of Illusion features a fully remastered soundtrack; mind you the original music was great for its time and boasted one of the finest soundtracks on the Sega Genesis. This round you get a fully remastered orchestrated soundtrack that takes the original and takes it to a whole new level. If you're a fan of the original, you'll certainly be pleased with the new music.
If Sega ever wants to re-imagine another Disney favorite, then might I suggest Aladdin? It was definitely better than its SNES cousin in terms of both graphics and sound. But if you keep the original cel-shaded look with higher res graphics and improved sound… it would be out of this world. But until then, let's see how Mickey's updated adventure fares in the TOV Breakdown.
I was a little bit skeptical when it came to this remake because I was so in love with the original; seriously, I think I wore my cart out to the point of no return, I played it so much. Sure with this newer, updated game we'd get better graphics and sound, but does that always make for a better game? In this case, it absolutely does. First up the graphics are well detailed and so damn gorgeous you simply wanna take your time to soak it all in. Everything is reimagined from the backdrops, the enemies, and even certain scenarios like the giant apple chase. That apple looked so good, it made me wish I could pluck it from the screen and eat it. There are also other nice touches such as Mickey having expressions from happy to scared; it additions such as this that really adds to the charm. But a big plus goes to the remake of the boss characters. My favorite to fight was the clown jack-in-the-box - he's a definite improvement over the original; you still defeat him in the same manner, but his moves are different this time around and the added 3D element, again a nice touch. The music is great stuff and really takes the 16bit version to a whole new level of awesome with well orchestrated updates of the original. Another nice addition is the Narration voiced by Richard McGonagle, who really fleshes out the story and gives you insight/commentary on the stage you're about to embark and throughout Mickey's quest. Though the journey is a short, Castle of Illusion was definitely worth the trek.
First, while I enjoyed the 3D transitions when they kicked in, there were some areas where this affected the jumping; for example in the Candyland stage when you're jumping from one cookie to the next, the accuracy isn't spot on and you'll miss a lot. Also Mickey's movements, which were floaty to begin with, are even floatier in this game. He's not uncontrollable, but his movements as well as his jumping, could have been tightened a bit. Next you have to collect seven gems through five stages; two of the gems teh game simply gives you, which I'm surprised new exclusives stages werent created to accomodate them. This gives the game a bit of arushed impression, at least to me it does. Finally, you can't skip past the cutscenes, which can become frustrating especially if you have to redo a level or restart a boss battle.
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is available now; for this review I took on the PS3 (PSN) edition, but you can also get it on XBOX Live and PC Download. The game is short but it's also a lot of fun and the perfect update to what was already a perfect game. And out of TOV 5 stars, Castle of Illusion get a 4. And I'm looking forward to more titles like this in the future.