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Review: Castle of Illusion

At a Glance

This game is recommended!
This game is not just good fun, it also stays fairly true to Christian moral values, making it a great addition to anyone's library!

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Platformer
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Review Published On: June 30th, 2021
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Steam

Save System:

There is an autosave, though it's only triggered by completing a stage. Leaving a stage via the menu will not save your progress.

To pause the game at any time, press ESC to bring up the pause menu.

Summary of
Major Issues:

This game contains standard Disney fare, such as family friendly combat and magical monsters.

Screenshots

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Oh boy!

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Exploring ancient ruins

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Look behind you!



Game Overview

Back in the day, licensed games had a reputation for being subpar or even unplayable. Disney's games, on the other gloved hand, are frequently listed as some of the most beloved games from the early console generations, and the Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse was one of the many examples. It was originally released on the SEGA Genesis, and in 2013, it was remastered into the game you're reading about now. As I didn't have a SEGA Genesis, I can't tell you how accurate this remaster is to the original. At best, I can compare it to Disney's SNES title Mickey Mania, which had a similar feel to the gameplay.

The story begins on a bright sunny day, with Mickey and Minnie going out into the countryside for a picnic. Of course, in order for there to be a story something must have gone terribly wrong with this plan, and indeed, no sooner had they made themselves comfortable did the evil witch Mizrabel fly over and trap Minnie in a magical bubble. Carrying her prize in tow as she zoomed away on her broom, she flew into her enchanted castle, leaving Mickey behind.

When our hero finally reached the castle, an elderly mouse stepped out of the shadows to warn him about Mizrabel's evil plot. She wants to cast a terrible spell that will steal Minnie's youth and vigor. This would make the witch beautiful, but render Minnie old and fill her once pure heart with hate. To stop this from happening, Mickey needs to collect the seven Rainbow Gems. These will create a magical bridge allowing Mickey to reach the secluded tower and confront Mizrabel before she can enact her devious plans. However, this will not be easy, as the Rainbow Gems have been entrusted to Mizrabel's underlings, the Masters of Illusion. Mickey will need to defeat each one in turn before facing the witch herself.

From here, the game is a typical platformer, though there are occasionally some 3D platforming sections to make things interesting. As mentioned earlier, since I didn't play the original, I don't know if there were faux-3D sequences in it that would translate into these 3D sections. The SNES games did experiment with this sort of thing though, so it would make sense to me if they were homages to the original adventure. One thing that is definitely from the older games is the combat mechanics. As he did back then, Mickey defends himself in this game by jumping on and bouncing off of enemies, or failing that, using an object from the level (like apples, marbles, or small candles) as a thrown weapon.

Now, while this is a fun game in its own right, there are some problems with it. The first of these is that, due to it being a remastered version of an older game, it's fairly short compared to more modern games. I would have like there to be more levels and more places to explore. Another problem is that the 3D platforming isn't as well implemented as the 2D gameplay. The controls feel sluggish and inaccurate when you're navigating a 3D space, and this makes it really easy to miss your jumps. Both of these are fairly minor complaints, but it's what keeps this game from being the polished gem it deserves to be.

Despite these complaints, I'd still suggest getting it if you enjoy short platformers or just love some classic Disney magic. However, wait for it to go on sale, as it's really not worth the $15 price tag.

Points of Interest

Many collectibles
While you're exploring the titular Castle, keep an eye out for three type of collectible trinkets. If you're willing to travel off the beaten path, you'll find Magic Playing Cards or Chili Peppers hidden in out of the way spots. Finding all of these unlocks new outfits for Mickey to wear as he wanders around the castle. Each level also contains a hidden Statue Piece, which will unlock decorations in the castle's main hub.

You'll also find a ton of diamonds scattered throughout the levels. These are primarily used to unlock new areas of the castle, but there are also some achievements you can earn by collecting large numbers of these shinies.
Time Trial Mode
Once you've cleared a level normally, you unlock the ability to play it through in Time Trial mode. To begin the timer, enter the level of your choice and then grab the giant watch found just inside the entrance. There's an achievement for trying this mode out, but that's really the only perk granted for racing through a stage.
Steam community features
There are twelve achievements to earn in this game. They mostly boil down to finding all of the different items or reaching certain milestones along the way, but there are a couple that will take some effort to earn. One example is the Superjump achievement, which requires the player to bounce Mickey off of seven enemies in one massive jump. The trick here is finding that many enemies close together, as you'll usually only find them in groups of three or less.
Unskippable cutscenes
Easily one of the most annoying things about this game is that you can't skip most of the cutscenes. Having cutscenes isn't the problem - many games use them to introduce the game or boss fights. The problem comes when you end up triggering the same cutscene over and over again, such as the cutscene before the final battle with Mizrabel. Players are probably going to lose these difficult fights multiple times, and having them sit through the same cutscene every single time they enter the fight just gets in the way.

Concerns and Issues

Mild violence
Although Mickey can defeat enemies by jumping on them or hitting them with thrown objects, a defeated enemy simply falls over and disappears. In fact, this is also what happens to Mickey if he ever takes too may hits. Boss fights are more detailed, with the enemies using more conventional fighting methods like trying to hit Mickey with a giant hammer or attempting to straight up eat him. But, it's all kept pretty family friendly, as everything is treated with the same silliness that you'd see in any Disney cartoon.
Magical creatures
Par the course for a Disney adventure, there are lots of magical creatures lurking around. The obvious example is Mizrabel herself, as she's a stereotypical witch and bares a striking resemblance to the evil queen from Snow White. Likewise, there are also levels filled with ghosts and specters, and a dragon made of candy features as one of the bosses.
Mizrabel is redeemed in the end
When Mizrabel is finally defeated in the climax, she simply gives up. And, instead of leaving Mickey and Minnie to their fates as the castle crumbles around them, she helps them escape to safety, accepting her loss gracefully. She doesn't entirely switch sides and become a good person; at least, not right away, but learning that Love is more powerful than her spells humbles her, and this leads to the start of a friendship between herself and the iconic duo.