RELEASED: November 1990
AVAILABLE ON: GEN, GG, SMS
Some people claim the Sega Genesis did not "really" exist before the release of Sonic the Hedgehog - that's three years between the console's initial release and the release of its best-selling game. Oh, there was a time before Sonic the Hedgehog. A time when Sega stood up to Capcom, who were exclusively doing Disney games for Nintendo at the time. In 1990, Sega produced an innocent little platformer starring Mickey Mouse, that is seen by some as a precursor or at least an obvious influence to Capcom's highly successful Magical Quest series, which made its debut on the SNES a couple of years later. Castle of Illusion is indeed a solid game, and it just might be one of Sega's finest titles altogether. It's just over way too soon!
Once upon a mouse...
|In Sega's version of the truth, mushrooms are |
actually bad for you.
People often mistake Castle of Illusion to be a part of the Magical Quest series, and I don't blame them, after all it's got a similar title to the games in the series, and it's a somewhat similar game, but actually it's the first game in its own franchise. Too bad the sequel was released only on the Game Gear and the Master System, after all this game, as good as it is, left a sour aftertaste as I would've wanted more in every possible sense. There aren't a lot of different levels, and there are too few of them. The game is over real quick, since it's not that challenging either.
|The bosses look awesome.|
The game has been called a Mario clone and for some good reasons. It's kind of like Super Mario World, stripped of all the yahoo. From the beginning to the end, the game has a certain similar aura to it - we're on a trip to collect seven of [insert enchanted item here] and rescue a damsel in distress - and the end credits just hit the frank bullseye, as well as the heureka factor. Well, who can blame Sega? Maybe they picked up a few things from somewhere else, but at least they learned from the best! The fact that this game stars Mickey Mouse doesn't bother me at all, and the very simple, sole reason to that is the fact that Castle of Illusion is a good game. That compensates for everything.
|Stay tuned, it's going to get a lot more familiar!|
The Castle of Illusion consists of five totally different rooms, or levels, which all have three stages in them. Normally, this would be enough for a platformer, but this means that there are only five fabulous designs which truly differ from each other; all stages within them are basically reorganized versions of each other. If you remotely think like me, you're going to be left missing something. Anyway, the different designs are, as follows: a forest, a humongous toy workshop, a dark canyon, a library with a very weird land of candy held within, and finally, the castle. I've got to say, that I'll bet my ass that clock tower stage in the castle was added as a tribute to Castlevania. It can't be a coincidence, even though the clock tower wasn't that much of a legend before Super Castlevania IV, which was released later. The whole castle somewhat reeks of 'Vania, but that clock tower's got 'Vania written all over it. Don't get me wrong, this is worth a lot of kudos.
|On my way to bomb LJN headquarters.|
It leaves one begging for more, and there are times when it feels even too simple, and simplified, but there's no doubt that Castle of Illusion is one of the best early Disney games, and it wasn't even brought to us by Capcom, Virgin or Disney themselves, but by Sega, who I somewhat regret having on my personal shitlist for all those years. Great work, but you forgot the tension.
GRAPHICS : 9.5
SOUND : 8.0
PLAYABILITY : 9.0
LIFESPAN : 6.8
CONCLUSION : 8.3
a.k.a. Castle of Illusion
The game was re-released as part of the Sega Ages: Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck compilation for the Sega Saturn in 1998, but only in Japan.