Disney’s current game development strategy seems to be exactly the same as their game development strategy of the NES/SNES days, which is to say they take one of their IPs and license it out to a more established game developer. In fact, they are giving their IPs to the exact same companies they did in the past. Ducktales went back to Capcom, while Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse went back to Sega. E3 2013 gave us a chance to try out the new Castle of Illusion remake at the Sega booth.
Much like Capcom’s Ducktales remake, Castle of Illusion recreates the classic platforming goodness of the original Genesis title. Mickey doesn’t have any gimmicks or special powers to speak of. All he has is his trusty jumping shoes and a couple of marbles to throw at his enemies. Mickey is still very bouncy, able to jump several times his normal jump height every time he manages to kill an enemy. Several puzzles in the game hinge on this bouncing mechanic, asking Mickey to make a skilled jump in one try because he can kill the enemies he needs to bounce off of only once.
However, unlike Ducktales, Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse isn’t just a remake of the original Genesis game. For example, new to the game is a 3D hub world that let’s Mickey wander around the castle itself. Playing platforming stages allows you to get diamonds which will then let you unlock more doors in this hub world, a lot like Stars do in Mario titles. Bonus levels hidden in platforming stages also play out in full 3D, and there are special bosses in levels that require 3D controls as well.
However, that’s about all the game has to offer in terms of new gameplay experiences. Everything else simply hinges on your ability to platform skillfully. Luckily, the platforming in this new Castle of Illusion feels better than the original Genesis title did. Mickey moves much quicker and more fluid now, and he is far easier to control in mid-air. Even with some impressive monitor delay, I was able to beat some of the more challenging platforming puzzles on my first go. If you don’t manage to get through a platforming segment on your first dry, Mickey can take a lot of hits, and extra lives are incredibly plentiful. This is certainly a platformer made for the kids, nowhere near as hard as the original.
That being said, Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse was an incredibly fun title to play. It captures what made the old Disney games good in beautiful HD graphics. It will be pleasing to anyone who played the original or younger fans of Mickey who never knew of his glory days during the Genesis era.
Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse is schedule for release on the PSN, XBLA, and PC later this summer.