Sunday 20 September 2009

Castle of Illusion

Oh look, another Mega Drive classic to add to the pile.

Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, a game developed by Sega AM7 in order to help maximise the Mega Drive's audience before their blue hedgehog came to town. Minnie Mouse has been captured by the evil witch Mizerabel, and Mickey needs to save her. Personally I'd cope with the loss but then again I'd have got the local police service involved and have this mess sorted out without fairly quickly. And I wouldn't spend 90 years walking about half dressed.

As an early title that didn't need to compete directly with the Super Nintendo, Castle of Illusion doesn't exactly sit on top of the "best 16-bit games" pile, but it doesn't need to. It's a solid platformer, similar to the likes of Super Mario Bros., and it was probably the first decent, good looking Mickey Mouse game. Capcom had done some amazing things with Disney franchises in the past, but Sega proved that others could too. Such a shame that nowadays Disney titles are more often associated with shovelware these days (except Kingdom Hearts I suppose).

Mickey can jump on enemies' heads and throw apples and stuff. It's not a complicated game, but it did go some ways to prove how much more good looking even the most basic of platformers could look on Sega's new console. There's not a massive amount that can be said because despite being one of the top MD games of 1990, EVERYTHING improved as newer games were released, and all platformers were more-or-less forced to re-think their game when Sonic 1 came out.

The only problem I have with it, and it's a similar situation with all Disney games before the release of Aladdin, is that despite being based off a cartoon noted for its very smooth frame-by-frame animation, the graphics aren't very "cartoony" at all, and it's certainly not a comedic masterpiece. It's not something the game can be blamed for, but it's fair to say the Mega Drive can do a bit better.

Castle of Illusion was a pretty big success back in the day though, spawning Master System/Game Gear titles Land of Illusion and Legend of Illusion, plus the Mega Drive "sequel" World of Illusion. AM7 also released the Donald Duck game Quackshot in between, which enjoyed similar success rates.

But give it a go if you get the chance. As with all Disney titles of this era, it's unlikely to see the light of day via re-releases, and because it was one of the Mega Drive's first games, it's fairly common. It bundled with Quackshot both in a pack for the Mega Drive and apparently one for the Sega Saturn too.

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