Backlog Redux 2014 #12 – Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

Castle of Illusion

Hocus Pocus

I wasn’t exactly “left wanting” for video games to play growing up. I owned a Game Boy with a stable of games, and, after a time, saved up enough money to purchase an NES and later a SNES. And before I had them myself, I had friends whose houses I could go to and play a few games. Eventually, I even bought(and almost immediately sold) a Game Gear, for which owned a whopping total of one pack-in game. But the one system I never had, nor really ever had a chance to play, was the Sega Genesis – it just never really seemed to catch on in Germany where I grew up. So when Sony gave away the 2013 remake of Disney’s Castle of Illusion, bundled with the original Genesis game nonetheless, it presented a great opportunity to catch up on a missed classic.

I figured I’d keep things chronological and picked the 16-bit precursor to kick things off. Of course, wanting to prove to myself that, yes, I am that damn good, I initially tried to get through the game old-school style – no saving allowed. Even though I got fairly far and the game’s not terribly long, I quickly abandoned this idea in favor of the more pampered, modern-day approach of saving every level and loading when things didn’t go my way. Part of me is too coddled by checkpoint-based game design, and the other part of me realized I have many, many other games waiting in my backlog, and, honestly, ain’t nobody got time for that! So save ‘n’ load it was, and the rest was a matter of a few hours.

Castle of Illusion

Ooh, how I hated this level in the original! Restart City, anyone?

With that version under my belt, I made the leap 23 years into the future and took on the modern-day HD remake. Playing both titles back-to-back really let me appreciate both the fidelity the designers showed to the source material, as level themes, enemy designs, and most other aspects of the original title are faithfully carried over, but also the improvements the new game features, such as a simpler control scheme and a more pronounced sense of Disney charm, in large part due to the improved visuals. The addition of new hidden collectables and time trial level runs once a stage has been cleared also add a little bit of longevity to the mix.

Castle of Illusion

The bosses retain the same aesthetic as the original’s

The difficulty, on the other hand, remains consistently too easy, though I guess this game isn’t exactly designed with the hardcore platform gamer in mind. The exception to this is the final boss, Mizrabel, who isn’t precisely “difficult”, but did require several attempts for me to best. As a matter of fact, I beat her while on my last life, meaning I don’t actually know if the 2013 version offers ‘Continues’ like its counterpart did, or will just send you back to square one if you lose all of your lives.

I feel I made the right call in playing the games the way I did. The former gave me a nice moment of historical nostalgia (kind of a grand term to apply to a 16-bit video game, ain’t it?), and let me enjoy the remake more than I suspect I otherwise would have. Don’t get me wrong: the 2013 version is a competent game for sure, and I definitely enjoyed it for its short duration, but had I not fine-tuned my expectations with the first offering, I may have been a little underwhelmed with it. As it stands, it was a fun diversion that lasted me around 3 days or so, all told.

Castle of Illusion

A side-by-side of how the environments used to look…

Castle of Illusion

…and how they were handled in the remake.


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