Recently, we’ve seen a lot of classic games receive HD ports, but Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is quite a different situation. While the original and HD version share the same name, the HD version is less of an updated port and more of a re-imagining of the original title. With 3D graphics, new collectibles, unlockable bonus items and an enhanced story, can Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse meet today’s standards or is it simply a step above your average HD port?
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse starts off with Mizrabel stealing Minnie Mouse in hopes of stealing her youth. You quickly learn that she is being taken to the castle of illusion and you’ll need the seven gems to rescue her from Mizrabel. After a brief introduction to the premise, a brief tutorial must be completed to reach the castle of illusion. This is little more than the standard “this is how you jump, throwing/jumping on enemies kill them” and of course, you can super jump off enemies to reach secret areas. Upon making it to the castle of illusion, you’ll start your adventure to save Minnie.
For those of you that played the original Castle of Illusion, you probably won’t be surprised to learn it follows the same stage order, but that’s about it. Most of the levels have been redesigned to work in a 2.5D setting, which results in a largely different experience from the original game. While the changes are mostly minor, like enemies added to the background, more cinematic bosses, highly-defined images and some completely redesigned linear levels to take advantage of the 2.5D, they give new and old comers alike a reason to play.
While some of these changes have resulted in new experiences and things to do, Castle of Illusion is still a fairly short game. The seven gems are spread out through five different stages, which only feature two levels and a boss each. To make matters worse, boss stages are nothing more than a fight. This leaves you with about ten levels to play through, plus an additional stage that leads to the final boss fight. While the story can be completed in an hour or two, playtime can be further increased by finding the various collectibles.
Another change in Castle of Illusion is the addition of diamonds, which are needed to unlock later stages and paintings for your castle. Most of these are along the main path in fairly obvious places, though some of them will take some extra effort and skill to obtain. Unfortunately, the controls can sometimes work against you, since they tend to be rather rigid at times, but that will most likely be the only problem you face. Besides adding diamonds as collectibles, playing cards/peppers can be found for additional costumes and statue pieces to complete your castle. Most of these are “hidden” in secret rooms or tricky areas, so it might take several attempts to obtain one. However, you can probably get all the collectibles and beat the game in four hours without a guide.
Castle of Illusion is a welcomed change to the original remake formula, but it falls short in a number of areas. Between the so-so graphics, rigid controls, and limited replayability, there is very little to keep you playing for more than a day. Thankfully, the newly added collectibles and speed run counter will give you something extra to do, but these won’t last too long. You’re probably better off waiting for a sale or for a slower season to pick this title up, which is a real shame considering how much effort went into it.
Version Reviewed: Xbox 360 (XBLA)