Castle of Illusion Review
There is no shortage of platforms in this day and age. You’ve got 2D ones, 3D ones, Kickstarter ones, indie ones, and even a next-gen one or three. However, the retro platform has been the poison of choice as of late, with reboots of DuckTales, Strider, and even Shantae in the air. SEGA and Disney’s Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is the latest game to get a second wind: the question is, is it worth gamers’ while?
Serving as a general remake of the 1990 game of the same name, Castle of Illusion has players taking the control of Disney’s iconic Mickey Mouse as he sets out to rescue his gal-pal Minnie from the evil witch Mizrabel. What follows is a journey through a magic castle with portals to worlds filled with toys, candy, and more — think Super Mario 64. It’s a simple tale that gets the job done, but consider the source.
Disney is known for their tales of whimsy and magic, and none of that is to be found here. Other than Mickey, Minnie, Mizrabel, and the occasional nod to a beloved icon, none of the companies’ IPs are to be found in Castle of Illusion. One could say that the game is faithful to the original SEGA Genesis release, and they’d be right — to an extent. However, even the original game suffered from this lack of insight, and replacing the spritework with generic 3D models does not help the game’s case.
The game mechanics in Castle of Illusion stick to the same style of the original, with bopping and the throwing of objects being your two methods of attack. Chaining a number of jumps together on enemies feels satisfying. However, the point multipliers you get for doing it don’t count for anything (the only unlockables come from hidden objects and collecting in-game gems), making it only worth your while to do so when there is a ledge out of reach or you’re in a sticky situation.
This is made even worse with the slippery controls. The original Castle of Illusion had tight, responsive controls, making navigation a breeze. However, the remake has slippery controls that make it hard to land precise jumps. This is made even worse with the odd change in perspective from 2D to 3D that happens when you least expect it. One especially frustrating example happens early on, where a runaway apple has you running TOWARD the camera in 3D, then switches to 2D for the final stretch and ending with a bottomless pit. Multiple lives and “hit stars” are given to the player to compensate, but the odds are often stacked against you.
The original Castle of Illusion was a decent release for its time, but the magic is gone in this re-release. Mickey’s journey is not inherently bad, but it lacks the polish that Disney is known for.
Castle of Illusion is a paint-by-numbers remake of the original. It hits all the right notes, but it does so without any feeling.