Castle Of Illusion is an old-school platform game with a brand new coat of paint. It’s charming, but sadly rather lightweight.
Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse: On the plus side
Castle Of Illusion is a stone cold classic game from the 8/16-bit era; while this remake is based on the Megadrive/Genesis version, I have fonder memories of the 8-bit Master System version. This one.
That was some time ago, although the core plot hasn’t really changed
Castle Of Illusion is a platform game from a time when just about everything was platform games, in the same way that just about everything currently is a military shooter. You run, jump, bottom bounce and sometimes throw projectiles at enemies in a mostly 2D universe. There are some nods to progress with limited 3D sections that blend in quite well when you’re playing, but if you’re not a platform fan this really won’t appeal.
Easily the best thing about Castle Of Illusion are the visuals. They’re crisp and beautifully animated, but then this is a port of a digital-only game that came out on (ahem) “proper” consoles some months back. Mickey’s gone from 16-bit wandering through libraries with flat features to a 3D realised world with a lot of attention to detail in little bits of background animation.
Platform game controls are a hard nut to crack, but I can’t really fault Sega Australia’s work here. The basic control scheme uses left hand swipes for movement, right hand taps for jumping and a single interaction and throwing button onscreen. It works, although there are sections where the game isn’t all that easy and a physical controller would probably be easier to handle.
Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse: On the minus side
Classic platform games rarely had save points, and that meant that they could get away with relatively short running times, because you’d have to play through the entire game in a single sitting to see everything.
I sometimes wonder as to the completion percentages for games of that era, not just because of difficulty spikes, but also because of the lack of save states.
That’s one thing that Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse in its iOS incarnation doesn’t do, because it’s meant to be mobile, and you may get a call, or decide to do something else. That does expose its relatively short running time, however. It would be perfectly feasible, even with some difficulty spikes to make your way through it in around 4 hours or so of total play time.
Some may find the brutalist old-school approach to platforming a bit off-putting, but I’ve got to say that I’m personally happy it’s still there. You will have to master multiple jumps in turn, and there are a few dead drop situations, and that’s part of the appeal — or it should be.
Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse: Pricing
Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a premium priced iOS title with an asking price of $10.49 at the time of writing.
Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse: Fat Duck verdict
That price point is something of a problem, simply because there are so many very good platform games on the iOS platform that you can get for a fraction of Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse’s asking price. It’s a top-notch title with a superb sense of visual style, but that’s matched to some old-school gaming mechanics, and as much as I can say that I appreciate them personally, I’m not blinded to the fact that even platform games have moved along a little since the early 1990s.
Die-hard Mickey fans — there must be some of them out there — and those (like me) with fond memories of the original will still have plenty of fun throwing Mickey around Castle Of Illusion, but newer gamers might find it a bit limited.