Monday 24 June 2019

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Sega Game Gear review)

Developer: Sega R&D2
Publisher: Sega
Released: 1991

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a platformer that was originally released on the Sega Master System in 1991.

The evil witch Mizrabel has kidnapped Minnie and in your quest to rescue her you'll need to obtain the seven Gems of the Rainbow from the castle. There's six stages and to attack Mickey can either bounce on enemies' heads, or pick up objects to throw at them. The gameplay is similar to the 16-bit version (1990, Mega Drive), but the level design is entirely different; it's equally impressive in its own right too, with thoughtfully designed stages and plenty of variety. It's always throwing new enemy types, hazards and items into play, and there's even some auto-scrolling stages to mix things up. There's many whimsical moments, such as when you run across a piano, only for some of the musical notes to turn into bad guys! It's full of twists and turns, and never keeps you moving in the same plane for very long in each stage, making for some captivating gameplay. While the side-view isn't zoomed-in to cater for the smaller screen, there's never a moment where it affects the action. Curiously, there are a number of minor changes when compared to the Master System version, such as swapped enemies in Stage 6, slightly different gem locations, and Button 2 is now used for both jumping and butt stomping (the console version has you alternating buttons). There's also slightly less slowdown when too many sprites are on screen, and the swinging pendulum animation in Stage 5 is smoother. Mickey controls with precision and although the game isn't difficult, there is some challenge in later levels. To top things off, the music is catchy and the graphics / animation are some of the best on the system.

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a top-tier platformer and if you're a fan of the acclaimed 16-bit version you owe it to yourself to experience this unique 8-bit title. It's a tiny bit more polished when compared to the Master System original, and still packs in tons of fun and variety to keep you entertained throughout.

Random trivia: The sound director was Tokuhiko Uwabo who also composed the music for Phantasy Star (1988, Sega Master System).

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