perjantai 13. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse (1992)

GENRE(S): Platform
RELEASED: November 1992

The first 16-bit game to come out of the famous Disney/Capcom collaboration was a cult platformer by the name of The Magical Quest, which starred Mickey Mouse on a search for Pluto in a land of wonders. The game has been praised by many as perhaps the greatest game Capcom and the Walt Disney Company ever worked on together. I grew up with DuckTales, and although this game's name kept popping up everywhere back in the day from magazines to the shelf of a local video store, I actually never played it as a kid. This was my very first round of The Magical Quest, and I don't believe I'll return for a second one any time soon. The game is not bad, it's just a bit tough to handle and its lack of a save feature calls for one overtly sweaty and furious game session.

Magically enfuriating

Mickey, Donald and Goofy are playing catch. While running after a lost ball, Pluto goes missing and Goofy sets out to search for him. Knowing better than to trust Goofy's ability to find Pluto, Mickey sets out on a search of his own and somehow ends up in an enchanted land ruled by Emperor Pete, who has Pluto locked up in the dungeon of his dark castle. Although advised by an old wizard not to stand up against the Emperor, Mickey will do anything to get his dog back.

That's what they all say. I mean: that's what
they all really say.
From the beginning and there on out, The Magical Quest is one of the most difficult games I've ever seen through. It has unlimited continues, and upon defeat you only need to start the stage over, not the whole level, but you're still in for a really hard time if you even try to go for some sort of a high score or find every hidden shop or box of coins in this game. The casual player will most likely attempt to just run through the game as fast as (s)he possibly can. That really is one way to avoid most danger, but it also is an effective way to keep your character from ever developing, and to ultimately fail the game. Well, at least you can't save your progress if you happen to fuck the game up too bad, if there's some good to be found in the total lack of a save feature, or being unable to return to previously completed levels. The Magical Quest is one of those games you are advised to slap in only if you have several hours of extra time, and you're completely tranquil, in peace with yourself, the world and your SNES controller. No one needs to die over a game, remember that. And, also remember that the guys at Capcom have made games like Mega Man 3 and Ghosts 'n Goblins in the past. The Magical Quest is not quite THAT difficult, but it is a lot more difficult to learn than either one of those games mentioned above. And, remember this very important point: it needs to be completed in one single session... assuming you're not playing the Game Boy Advance remake, unceremoniously dubbed the "sissy version".

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the graphics are absolutely phenomenal, after all Capcom had Sega and their Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse game to compete with on Nintendo's behalf. It's very appealing, not just for kids since it's not promoted as a kids' game by its look, rather a vintage, classic Capcom game that happens to star Mickey Mouse. You ever notice how most 16-bit, pre-Mega Man X Capcom games use the same text font? I'm sure you have. Just like Castle of Illusion, The Magical Quest looks like 16-bit technology at its prime, back from a time making 16-bit games look good mattered. While listening to the music, I'm still a bit amazed that the game wasn't made by the same folks that did Castle. While the music's more than a quite all right, it's not that special or memorable.

Looks like Mickey's got his work cut out for him
At first glance, The Magical Quest looks like a simple enough platformer, but it turns into a bundle of complexity right away. Enemies are incapacitated by simply jumping on them, but at this time you need to grab them and hurl them off to some direction to completely dispose of them. There are tomatoes which you need to grab, throw away, and then grab them again if you wish to use them as some sort of very strange flying devices. Although the very basic controls are very hard to learn and this is the first level of the game, expect no mercy. Very soon you will find yourself balancing on a huge tomato while it rolls down a seemingly endless vine covered in spikes, with some flying bastards swirling about. To make things "just a little bit more exciting", almost every level in this game has two bosses - a some sort of an imperial guard, and then some incarnation of the Emperor himself, including a huge leviathan, a flame-spewing wall ornament, and a walrus on skates. Skates? ...Skates. Ice? Well, what do you expect?!

Of course there's ice, how in the hell would this game meet the standards of both a platformer game and a game of such difficulty if there weren't some sort of an ice world? I almost gave up at this point, but despite some weird flowers that keep pushing you from side to side and some weird sleds with zero traction lying across the ground, and of course the ice itself, the level isn't really that hard and thankfully it's the shortest one in the whole game - there's not even a sub-boss in it. Hey, Capcom. Thank you. Sincerely, thanks.

A Robin Hood outfit's not much of safety gear
if you ask me.
Making things a little more interesting from an originality standpoint, but again a little more difficult from the standpoint of learning perfect control, is Mickey's gradually increasing ability to change costumes. As you make progress (if you're lucky), you'll be able to change into a magician, fireman and mountain climber, in that order, and each form is more difficult to learn to use properly than the last. The worst parts are where you need to rapidly change from one attire to another. Although it's a great idea, the whole costume change called for the most unbroken concentration and cursing on my part. The magician can use magic (duh) and unleash charged magic attacks that are very effective against bosses, but that's pretty much it for his usefulness. The fireman can move some obstacles with a charged shot of water, and of course, put out fires, even douse platforms that catch fire to keep things from ever becoming too easy. The mountain climber can use his grappling hook to swing from certain types of ornaments, as well as climb almost every type of vertical platforms. The chance of comfort to use a grappling hook is always 50/50 in 16-bit games, here the result once again falls on the negative half of the equation; it's slow and demands ridiculous precision. And yes, you absolutely need to use the mountain climber and his grappling hook in one of the boss fights. Of course you do.

Some levels have a general store hidden in them, from which you can buy yourself a variety of useful stuff with the coins you find scattered around inside Mickey bricks and large boxes with Mickey's face on them, including heart containers, which permanently increase your maximum health - of course they're the most useful items, but they also cost 200 coins a piece and they are very seldomly found on the field. I struggled to beat this game with only seven hearts, because I sincerely did not want to spend more time in some certain levels that was absolutely necessary. When Emperor Pete finally fell after the 11th attempt, with me on my very last legs, I sincerely dropped the controller down, fell to my knees on the floor and kissed it. I felt I had just witnessed a freakin' miracle. I can't wait what happens if I manage to beat just one game in the Ghosts 'n Goblins main series some day. Even while I'm a sworn atheist, I wouldn't be surprised if Jesus Christ stopped for a coffee at my place after that. I was almost expecting him after beating The Magical Quest.

Oh, for crying out loud.
The game is just about as short in length as Castle of Illusion, but it's lightyears ahead in difficulty level, which certainly doesn't leave me craving for more. It took me about five hours to beat this game, six if you take into account all the cigarettes I smoked during that time just to ease my nerves. I can't really nail down its real length; the fastest speedrun I've spotted for the game so far is approximately 18 minutes. Sick. I won't believe it until I see it. The game's life cycle is all up to the player's personal opinion on really difficult games that don't have any sort of a password or save feature. Once again, you have unlimited continues (which makes having lives relevant only to the high score) and you never have to worry about having to start whole levels again once you've passed the checkpoint, so it's all up to you and how much time you are willing to spare to this highly difficult game at once.

The Magical Quest cures blood diseases by stretching your veins to their very limits with its high difficulty (is it good or bad, you be the judge), and the controls are not just difficult to learn, but simply not as fluid as I would've imagined. It is revered as a classic when it comes to Disney games, and still one of the very best, but I'm not quite that comfortable with it, personally. They could've at least given us a password system, no one can exactly be expected to bear all of this in one sitting.

SOUND : 7.7


a.k.a. The Magical Quest, Disney's Magical Quest, Mickey no Magical Adventure (JAP)

GameRankings: 82.00%

The game was remade for the Game Boy Advance in 2002, as Disney's Magical Quest Starring Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

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