Image copyright SEGA/Disney 2013
This week, I thought I’d dig into a true classic. No, I don’t mean an Xbox 360 game (though it is, actually, a 360 game). I don’t even mean a SEGA Dreamcast game. No, this week, I’m casting my mind back to my childhood. Back before the beard or the beer or the MCU nonsense, your regular Nerd-in-the-Know was just a silly little gamer, with a fondness for SEGA and no understanding of the world. Back in the early ’90s, to me, SEGA was king, and the Megadrive was my console of choice. So, when you add Mickey Mouse into the equation, the result should be one heck of a nostalgia ride. Fast forward to the HD remake.
In 2013, SEGA released the HD remake of their beloved Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse, a port of the 1990 game of the same name.
When I first started playing the 2013 Castle of Illusion, I had traces of gameplay footage running through my head. I was constantly trying to piece what I was playing to what I remembered, and, for the most part, it’s a pretty spot-on port. Obviously, the inclusion of 3D graphics and a 2.5D gameplay style has brought the game into the 21st Century, but at its heart, this is the same game.
The same game me and my sister would play until the wee hours of the night (I lie, we went to bed by 10 pm).
The same game that we had to get our mum to complete for us because the final boss was too hard. I can’t believe I just admitted that. Anyways.
The gameplay mechanics were still there. Jumping on an opponent was the easiest way to reach higher platforms. Pickups can be used as projectile weapons. And Mickey does his cute little dance animation. Just like I remembered it.
However, playing through Castle of Illusion 2013 brought back some bad memories. Aside from having to get my definitely not-a-gamer mother to complete the final boss for me, Castle of Illusion holds what I believe Hell sounds like.
This monstrosity haunts my nightmares to this day. Honest to the Geek Gods themselves. One day I may need therapy to get over this evil piece of music.
But anyways, Mickey sure is funny, isn’t he?
The one thing I always wanted to know was “who are these bosses?” You never really got an answer in the 1990 game, and looking back, it’s something I always wanted.
Take the 1st boss, for instance. In the original game, it’s a wood coloured face that charges at you.
What’s that supposed to be? Other than an early addition to my aforementioned nightmares
In the remake, the narrator announces that this is “The Grumpy Old Oak Tree.”
Despite being “Grumpy”, this fella actually doesn’t look as intimidating.
And maybe there’s some sort of gaming culture commentary to be made here about how modern games – even remakes of classic games such as this – are vastly easier than games of the ’80s and ’90s. Whilst I’m not here to argue whether modern gaming has made us, essentially, rubbish at “harder” gaming – case in point, Cuphead – but it would be an interesting thing to follow up on.
Anyways, enough mental notes to myself.
Castle of Illusion 2013 is, for all intents and purposes, a solid platformer. In a time where the genre has only recently seen any glimmer of a renaissance, Castle of Illusion showcases what we loved about games at the turn of the Century. The mechanics are simple to pick up and enjoyable to master for anyone new to the platforming genre. For veterans, whilst few areas will serve as a true challenge, it gives you a chance to lose yourself once again. The aesthetics, sound effects, and general tone of the game make things feel fresh (despite being a remake of a near 30-year-old game), and there’s plenty of that classic Disney cartoon humour to smile at.
Will you be able to complete Castle of Illusion within a day? Of course you will, it’s a Disney game, and not even a particularly big one at that.
But that’s really the point with this sort of game. They’re not supposed to offer you 100+ hours of storyline, or DLC released 2 to 4 to 6 months down the line to flesh out the gameplay or add in additional maps.
It doesn’t need to.
It’s a game. A game that you play, at your leisure, and most importantly, for fun.
It’s a chance to forget how serious you’re supposed to be. Or how long a kill streak you can rack up. And, for those of you reading this of a certain vintage, it’s a chance to remember what games used to be like. Grab a controller, get a mate around, and just take turns. Play to your heart’s content.
I think we need more games like Castle of Illusion right now, to be honest. But what do I know?
Nerd Rating; 8/10 – as good a port as anything I’ve ever come across, Castle of Illusion 2013 is the core of what a game should be; fun. Whilst it won’t win any awards for gameplay mechanics, or bowl anyone over with its originality, it’s a quaint and quirky little title. Replayability is not a factor going into this game – once you’re done, you’re done. Sure, there’s additional costumes to collect and concept art to unlock, but they feel more like padding than a necessity. If you want to remember what gaming was like before all the photo-realism, online multiplayer, and DLC was the norm, then this is a splendid walk through the 8-bit park. Plus, Mickey Mouse!
If you like this, try; Epic Mickey, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Unravel.