I'm a little bit nervous about the HD remake of Castle of Illusion

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse Screenshot - Castle of Illusion

Disney Interactive has been most recently known as a company that’s really good at closing down studios. Then they acquired LucasArts, which we all hoped would be the beginning of something awesome. Of course, they shut LucasArts down too.

But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, in a distant age when cartridges were unironic and very much not retro, Disney Interactive had stamped their name across some unforgettable games. Like Capcom’s brilliant DuckTales for NES. In fact, DuckTales was so great that it’s getting an HD remake almost 25 years after it originally released.

Of course, with all the hype surrounding the DuckTales remake, it wasn’t long before Disney started looking through their back catalog to see what other properties they could spit shine and bring into a new era. They managed to dust off Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, which seemed like a fantastic pick since the original is still regarded as a beloved classic. And it’s hard to top the star power of Mickey Mouse. So, good on Disney Interactive for reviving this one, and good on Sega for putting forth the manpower to get it done.

While wandering around E3 this year, I managed to get my hands on a demo version of the HD Castle of Illusion remake. It was an opportunity I simply couldn’t pass up.

When first stepping into the game’s world (I world I admittedly hadn’t seen since the 1990s), I was floored by how gorgeous this game was. Seriously, I want to find the entire art direction team and give everyone on it a gigantic hug, because this game looks incredible.

Mickey

I mean, look at that. It looks like it came out of a Pixar movie. The level of detail, the sort of glowy mood lighting, the fact that it looks like you’re in an actual room to give your adventure some context – it all makes for a game that you simply can’t tear your eyes away from.

But I’m not as sold on the gameplay. Mickey feels slippery. In fact, he controls like he’s covered in grease. And this becomes problematic when the level design includes long series of tiny objects to jump on. I spent a good portion of my demo time just falling off of things I thought I had landed flawlessly on top of.

And the level I played, the toy stage, was designed to punish careless jumping with long falls that send you back a considerable distance through pieces of the stage you had already been through. It’s frustrating. Then again – and keep in mind that I can’t say this with absolute certainty, since it’s been ages since I played any of them – I seem to remember the Mickey Mouse games always being like that.

And maybe the slipperiness of the controls was just the slipperiness of the controller after being manhandled for three days by sweaty game journalists?

Castle of Illusion

I’ve since watched some of the gameplay videos that came out of E3, and it looks like there’s a rhythm to the jumps and the way obstacles are laid out. I wasn’t able to sync with that rhythm in the short bit of time I spent with the game, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to if given a longer play session. In fact, most of the old platformer games are like that: frustratingly difficult into you find your rhythm and fall into the groove.

I certainly hope so, because when I passed the controller to the guy in line behind me, I felt like I was walking away from a game that I would much rather stare at than actually play. I hope I’m wrong about that when the game lands on PSN, XBLA and Steam this Summer.

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Josh Wirtanen
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Games: Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

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