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Review: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Posted by on September 4th, 2013 | 2 Comments | Tags:

Despite some of my frustration with DuckTales Remastered it’s been really cool to see two Disney platformers come back both within weeks of each other. Castle of Illusion takes you on a quest to save Minnie from Mizrabel who is threatening to suck the beauty out of Minnie for herself. Just as in the original, Mickey Mouse will need to collect seven gems hidden throughout the Castle of Illusions in order to create a bridge to where Minnie is being held. This isn’t just a remake though. What became evident almost immediately is that Castle of Illusions subverts your expectations of what constitutes a remake.

I preordered this game a week ago and due to a deal that was running on the PlayStation Store I was able to download and play through the original game as a way to refresh my memory. Castle of Illusion isn’t a point-for-point remake of the original. Instead it takes many of the key things you’ll remember from the original (and in some sections the same section of a level) and re-imagines them in a way that makes the entire game feel fresh while still offering up some nostalgia. Which isn’t to say that you’ll need to have played the original to enjoy this BUT if you have I think you’ll find a lot more to like just from a presentation stand point.

Castle of Illusion features the same levels and structure from the original. You’ll go through the forest stage, toy box, candy world, etc. Stages will sometimes feature a specific section from the original remade with a few alterations while the rest of the stage is completely brand new. The game does a fantastic job not just with the level design itself but also in the way that it’s presented. For instance in the opening level you’ll see complete sections of the stage in the background telegraphing what to expect as you progress further. While Castle of Illusion is mostly still a 2D platformer the game periodically shifts into a 3D platformer which goes a long way in changing things up and just making the game that much better. Not only that but all of the boss fights are completely redone and, in my opinion, are far better than in the original. It takes just the right amount of specific sections from the original while expanding upon everything else in a way that allows Castle of Illusion to stand on its own as a brand new title more so than just a remake.

Another new addition is the presence of voice acting within the game. Castle of Illusion features voices for Mickey Mouse, Minnie, Mizrabel as well as a narrator who guides Mickey on his adventure. The voice acting is great and not only that it feels right at home with Castle of Illusion. It’s similar in the way that the DuckTales Remastered voice work made you feel like you were taking part in the show itself rather than just playing a game. The difference here of course is that Castle of Illusion never interrupts the gameplay. The writing fits well and I even found myself laughing a few times at some of the things that narrator would comment on throughout the game.

I finished the game in about two and a half hours. I know that alone might sway people away but it should be stressed that I’ve still got plenty of things to do. Castle of Illusion lets you run around inside the castle itself which is positioned as your hub world. Within the castle you’ll find numerous pedestals for statues to be placed as well as a magic mirror that will show you various costumes that you can unlock throughout the game. Each level has hidden areas you can access and many different collectibles to grab. You’ll find playing playing cards, red hot peppers, and statue pieces. Finishing a statue will make it appear within the castle and collecting the cards and peppers will ultimately unlock different costumes to wear. If going back to grab collectibles isn’t enough for you that’s understandable. That said Castle of Illusions doesn’t try to drag out sections of the game just to make it longer. Sure I would love to have had more levels in the game but as it stands Castle of Illusions is a tightly packed game without a dull moment.

I mentioned before that if you haven’t played the original you’ll still enjoy this game. That said everything from the presentation, the music and right down to the way in which Mickey Mouse animates is aimed directly at people who played the original as well as people who just love Mickey Mouse. The music itself has been redone by Grant Kirkhope (Banjo Kazooie) and is just as good as the original (though you can toggle between both versions if you’d like). While the vast majority of the game is new there are many callbacks to the original. Add that to the fact that the animation on Mickey Mouse (the little strut that he does when you just barely tilt the analog stick is just fantastic) is spot-on and you get a place that feels like Mickey Mouse belongs in.

Castle of lllusion is more than just a remake and I think it stands on its own as a great game period. There certainly are elements of nostalgia sprinkled throughout the game but on its own I think the mix between 2D and 3D platforming is done exceptionally well and lets the game feel like something that fits well in 2013 rather than feeling like a game that was made over twenty years ago. Was I left wishing there was more? Yes, but what’s there is a satisfying platformer that’s just a whole lot of fun.

A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.

General Info

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  • I wish it was a little bit longer

  • Christopher H

    Any idea if this is coming to the vtia?

    • PSPenguin

      Developer was closed before the game came out. So it’d have to be someone else porting it. Seems unlikely. :