Up Up Down Down: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (2013)
Modern Mickey Mouse games haven't been able to capture the magic of the Disney brand. This was evident when the original Epic Mickey failed to provide more than a middling experience. Then followed Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, which was an even bigger disappointment and proof that there was no place for the series. Launching alongside that title was Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, which turned out to be a hideously poor successor to the critically acclaimed Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse.
The fan-favorite Mickey game eventually got a much better follow-up last year when Sega released an enhanced remake. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse hit Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Steam, and it placed strong emphasis on nostalgia while also offering up something that modern Disney fans could totally enjoy despite a few flaws and shortcomings.
Up Up: Much better than the original
My problem with the original Castle of Illusion for the Genesis is that it feels too sluggish and just isn't very fun these days. It bleeds charm and has some cool moments, sure, but by today's standards, it's not a good game. The remake takes the revered classic and spruces up the mechanics while also adding new areas to the familiar levels, giving you more to see and do. What you get is a game that offers up a great dose of nostalgia while not relying on poorly aged gameplay.
Down Down: Still really short
Even though Castle of Illusion features more areas for you to discover and explore, it's still a really short game, much like the original. You can probably get to the end in about three hours. There are collectibles to discover, unlockables to seek out, and a timed mode to keep you busy longer, but these serve as mere distractions in the grand scheme of things. For players who aren't necessarily completionists, there's not a lot of game here.
Up Up: Looks and sounds good
Castle of Illusion does a great job of exuding that grandiose Disney flair. The game is colorful, bright, cheery, and charming all the way through. It also sounds pretty good, and I'd argue that the enhanced soundtrack easily tops the original game's. Unlike the Genesis title it's based on, which sounds way too goofy, the music in this version of Castle of Illusion actually sounds like something you'd hear while walking around Disneyland.
Down Down: You could argue that the Genesis game looked better
Many pixelated gems from the '90s tend to age well. That's exactly the case with Castle of Illusion on the Genesis, which looks arguably better than this 2013 remake. I'm not saying the newer game is ugly by any means, but the artistry of the original trumps its successor's. That's not a bad thing if you never played Castle of Illusion back in the day (and if you haven't, you shouldn't now because it's not very good), but if you have, it's possible that you'll miss the spectacular 16-bit look.
Up Up: You can forget that Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion happened
The fact that Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS was being touted as a spiritual successor to the highly lauded Castle of Illusion was kind of sad. The latter may not hold up well these days, but Power of Illusion is just a really bad game in general. Thankfully, you can forget all about it with the new Castle of Illusion. It's such a solid remake, and there's plenty that's new to the point that it almost feels like a new game in its own right.
Down Down: Story bits are a nuisance
Unfortunately, one of the modern tropes that doesn't succeed in Castle of Illusion is the story aspect. This time around, Sega added in voice acting and drawn-out sequences. The problem is that these are neither entertaining nor interesting. The voice acting is drab, the story bits are bland, and there's really no reason to even bother watching the plot unfold. Here's the summary so you can save yourself the trouble: Mickey needs to save Minnie from a witch because reasons. That's it. Feel free to skip the cutscenes now.
Left Right Left Right: Castle of Illusion is a good remake that tops the original
If you loved playing Castle of Illusion on the Genesis as a kid, and even if you never touched the game, you should totally play this downloadable remake. It isn't very long or challenging, but it's a fun time regardless. It's also a much better game than its old school predecessor. It's really only for Disney and Mickey fans, but if you fall under that category, you're bound to have a good time.
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