There have been very few Disney video games that have truly challenged and engaged adults. Much of this can be attributed to Disney’s careful control of their characters to ensure no potential tainting of their family-friendly brand. Even in the Kingdom Hearts series despite the fact that players could take iconic characters into combat, there was nothing that verged on ‘adult content’. Castle of Illusion isn’t anything unusual in that regard, but the game is unexpectedly enchanting, even for an adult.
Unfortunately that enchantment wears off rather quickly as you speed through what is underneath all the polish, just another platformer. Moving Mickey is accomplished via a virtual analog stick and tapping the other side of the screen makes him jump and a red button throws any apples you may have collected. Presumably in the greater Disney canon, all apples are poisonous. Despite the three-dimensional graphics and some fully three-dimensional sequences the majority of the game is played from a classic side-on perspective. It might sound like this is a bad thing, when in fact the 3-D portions of the game are the most frustrating due to the looseness of the controls. The only 3-D segment I truly delighted in was one in which you have been suddenly shrunken down and are on the run from a tumbling apple of destruction in a very Indiana Jones-esque sequence.
The game is a spiritual homage/remake of a much older game by the same title and nowhere can it be seen more than the slapdash story. An evil witch, with the ultimate goal of stealing her beauty, has kidnapped Minnie Mouse. So of course Mickey must come to the rescue. Players progress through a series of levels with plenty of jumps, moving platforms and enemies to be fruited or bounced on. Along the way you’ll see sparkling gemstones and your unstoppable impulse to collect them will be correct. Though the levels themselves are linear, players have a certain freedom to move throughout the castle at will. Initially only the foyer and a single door will be accessible but above are yet more doors and more levels to explore. Each door requires a certain number of gemstones to open, handily inscribed above each portal. As you may imagine, collecting the gems becomes the primary focus of the game. Unfortunately they’re generally easy to find and experienced players will find themselves eyeing an area and successfully prognosticating the existence of gems there as well as how to attain them. There’s little challenge involved in collecting all the gemstones and the game is easily beaten in a single lengthy sitting.
Once you’ve rescued Minnie there isn’t much to do beyond a few collectibles and some unlockable costumes that sadly have no purpose beyond adornment. Despite that, the game has a high level of polish and the requisite Disney charm is as well executed as one would expect from the most lucrative family entertainment company in human history. The game has a remastered soundtrack and a narrator, but with a plot this thin and unessential it’s almost comical to have someone telling you about what Mickey was up to next.
Ultimately the game seems like something that would be more suited to the attention of a child, which is again not a shock considering the source material. Even for a diehard Disney fan the ten-dollar price tag is a huge detriment to the appeal of the game. The wonky controls and complete lack of challenge put the final nail in the adorable, big-eared coffin.
No. Cute. But too easy.
Sorry, but your entertainment is in another castle.