E3 2013: Disney Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse Preview – Retro Rodent
Written Monday, June 17, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
While remakes of fondly remembered retro titles are becoming increasingly common these days, Disney Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is no ordinary remake according to SEGA. Granted, saying it's a re-imagining doesn't usually really mean much, but when said re-imagining contains 20% new content, new gameplay additions, dynamic challenges and bonus unlockable extras, we have to sit up and take notice. After all Castle of Illusion is also a bonafide SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis classic and therefore worthy of a remake. Sorry, re-imagining.
Incredibly bold and colourful, Castle of Illusion does look fantastic, especially for an Xbox Live Arcade game, with appealing 3D character models and a pleasing depth to each of the platform jumping levels. Mickey himself is particularly animated, sporting an expressive face and energetic idle animations that riff on the original game. He also struts along like he owns the place, and has the same floaty jump he's always had, making him able to change direction in mid-air.
Castle of Illusion is made up of fully re-imagined (there's that word again) 3D environments bursting with colour and personality, and the castle environment we're shown is drenched in detail and character. Preserving the spirit of the 1990 original has been of paramount importance for SEGA, so while the whole thing has been modernised, fans will recognise certain elements and still be able to enjoy the game's expanded levels. There are all sorts of hidden nooks and crannies to explore in Castle of Illusion, opening up bonus content that's currently being kept under wraps, and additional collectibles.
The same core gameplay remains intact, so bouncing off of enemy's heads to dispatch them or throwing candles (torches are out as you can't grab them from walls due to the depth of each background) to take them out is still the order of the day. There are entirely new platforming sections that include navigating treacherous towers with pop-out platforms that retract into the wall quickly, meaning you have to keep moving and jumping along to avoid a fall to your doom. Bats and reanimated knights will try and hamper your progress, just like they did in the original version, and you can stomp on their heads and bounce to higher platforms.
SEGA has found something of a happy medium where the game's level of difficulty is concerned, offering plenty of opportunities to go off-piste and engage in some exploration, and enjoy the challenge that comes with some of Castle of Illusion's more testing platform jumping sections. The good old boulder section in the sewers is still present and correct too, leading to a vault harbouring an indigo gem. Grab the gem and you'll face one of the revamped boss battles, which are now fully 3D encounters that also pay homage to their 1990 counterparts.
Castle of Illusion seems to be going above and beyond the usual remake hatchet job with a well-thought out and fully overhauled take on the Mega Drive/Genesis game, with new areas to visit, new content to discover and pleasing, bold 3D visuals that retain the spirit and feel of the original Castle of Illusion. For a downloadable remake, it's definitely a cut above what we're used to, and should help gloss over the disappointment of Epic Mickey 2, with an adventure that Disney's iconic vermin deserves.
Disney Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse will be heading to XBLA in summer 2013.