perjantai 13. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - The Great Circus Mystery Starring Mickey & Minnie (1994)

GENRE(S): Platform
RELEASED: November 1994

In 1994, Capcom produced a lesser-known sequel to their megahit The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse, this time also balancing the scale to Sega's favour. Actually the Genesis version of the sequel sold quite well, while the version for the platform that gave birth to its predecessor went largely unnoticed. Curious. Still barely recovering from the shock that The Magical Quest was in its high difficulty, I went into the sequel a bit scared, but came out a winner in just a couple of hours. The Great Circus Mystery is a fair game compared to the first one, but none the richer as a whole experience.

Pete strikes back

Mickey and Minnie's day at the circus with their friends is ruined when Baron Pete attacks it for an unknown reason. They embark on a journey to Pete's castle to find out his motives to ruin the circus.

The Great Circus Mystery is one plotless game if there ever was one. Although the title might tell you otherwise, the game doesn't really have anything to do with the circus besides the first level. It's just a basic platformer with basic settings from any other basic platformer, that needed some sort of a red herring for a "story". Even if the plot did matter, I wouldn't know what the hell's going on during half of the game. Ah, well...

Pitfall Mickey.
Basically, the graphics are exactly the same as in The Magical Quest; the level design is different and more straightforward, probably to accommodate the new co-op system - which is still hard to imagine functioning in a game like this, be it as straightforward as it may. The game fails to do any sort of graphical impression on me. Sure, the bosses look good, for example, but they looked good two years back, if not even better. The game's on the absolute par with the standard and does not exceed it in any way like the previous game did. The music's partly good. The ice theme (yep...) drives me even more nuts than the level itself, now that's an accomplishment.

I already covered the major difference in level design, but there are a few changes to the formula, even though the game starts to resemble its predecessor the more you make progress. There's a password feature, which is kind of an odd addition at this point, since the game is by all means so much easier than The Magical Quest, and it has just as many levels. This time, you respawn instantly after losing a life, which makes things one more notch easier. However, if you lose all of your lives, you'll also lose all of your coins, which makes the returning general stores completely useless to you. I don't know what the point was in having them in the game, or still hiding them in certain levels only. You'll get by fine without them, anyway, if you've beaten the previous game.

The most important addition to the game, according to enthusiastic team players, is the chance to go at it in co-op, with the other player putting on Minnie's high heels. Of course, you can also play as Minnie in the single-player mode if you want. I kind of thought about that, just to fuck Mickey over, but my heart just couldn't take it. There is no practical difference between the characters at all, and the costumes are the same for both. You'll once again gain three additional costumes on your way to Baron Pete's castle, and each one is clumsier to use than the last. Now I ain't talking just about their proper use being difficult to learn, they are indeed clumsy.

The Ghostbusters were on vacation.
Let's take the sweeper outfit first, a cleaning attire equipped with a huge vacuum cleaner which you use to suck, literally. There is one boss in the game whose only weakness is the vacuum. He's similar to the Fire Grotto boss in The Magical Quest in the sense that if you can't keep a lock on him at all times, he's just going to return to his normal self again and again, and the boss battle can take forever. You need to get so darned close with the vacuum cleaner and use it at a full charge for like 30 seconds without a single break to beat this boss. The facts that he's constantly throwing shit at you and can freeze you upon contact don't make him any less annoying. Next up, the safari outfit. This is kinda similar to the mountain climber outfit in the first game, but the hook is no longer a grappling hook, it's more like attached to Mickey's hand and it works similarly to Scrooge's cane in DuckTales 2, a pretty good way out if you ask me, and it's also great that with this outfit, you can scale any wall in the game. However, you can't do shit to enemies. You cannot grab items, and the hook won't work as a weapon. Last and definitely not least, the cowboy outfit. As cool as it sounds, you're going to curse it. Your makeshift horse bounces all the time, making it very difficult for you to time your jumps correctly, and the cork bullets of your gun have a weird trajectory that takes time to learn to use to your advantage in regular combat when there are enemies flying and running at you from every direction.

Lastly, I don't understand why they couldn't just make the costume change so that just one simple push of a button would trigger it, like in Mega Man X, in which I might've criticized it, but here the default costume changing button really can't be pressed by accident. Once again, there are situations in which you are advised to quickly change into another costume in the middle of the action, and it breaks concentration having to toggle through the costumes and watch that cut-action changing animation.

Somebody's been enjoying his oat meal!
The secrets in this game are fairly easy to find, the bosses aren't that difficult, health items are less scarce, you respawn immediately upon dying as long as you have lives left, the level design is very straightforward so you don't need to risk life and limb to check out the skies, there are still only six levels in the game... yep, you'll be done with The Great Circus Mystery in half of the time it took you to beat The Magical Quest, and if you can't bear its toughest moments for some reason, you can always let it rest and use a password later.

Something's definitely missing from this game when it comes to the Disney/Capcom standard created in the late 80's. I thought Capcom only lost interest in making Disney games for the NES, but I'm seeing some of that lack of enthusiasm in The Great Circus Mystery, as well. It really isn't much of a step forward from The Magical Quest when it comes to gameplay, or especially the audiovisuals. It's just an eased up, stale platformer, totally irrelevant to the cosmos. Of course it's not totally bad, it's just not even as interesting or such a standout title as its predecessor was at the time of its release. Not that magical, some would say.

SOUND : 7.0


a.k.a. Mickey to Minnie: Magical Adventure 2 (JAP), The Great Circus Mystery, The Magical Quest 2

GameRankings: 70.00% (GEN), 69.50% (SNES)

The game was remade for the Game Boy Advance in 2003, as Disney's Magical Quest 2 Starring Mickey and Minnie.

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