RELEASED: March 1987
AVAILABLE ON: NES
DEVELOPER(S): Hudson Soft
PUBLISHER(S): Hudson Soft, Capcom
Mickey Mouse was created by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks in the spring of 1928, and first starred in the most known black and white animated short film of all time, Steamboat Willie. The film was actually Walt Disney's third Mickey Mouse short, but the first to reach a mainstream audience. 83 years later, Mickey Mouse is recognized as the symbol of the Walt Disney Company, and although his character has always been a subject of debate, there's no denying that he is the most influential cartoon character of all time. The first Mickey Mouse console game was released in Japan by Hudson Soft in 1987, and it was simply called Mickey Mouse. A year later, Capcom revised this Famicom game and relocalized many details of it, as well as the title, which was changed into Mickey Mousecapade on the box art. This also marked the beginning of Capcom's long business relationship with Disney, that has produced us great games such as DuckTales, Chip 'n Dale - Rescue Rangers, and The Magical Quest, to mention a few. Is Mickey Mousecapade worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as these three franchises? No, that's why I didn't.
Where's my box of mouse traps?
Mickey and Minnie Mouse go on a dashing adventure through Wonderland to save Alice from the clutches of the evil witch Maleficent and his pack of cronies.
|Mirror, mirror on the wall, where's the sense in |
About the story: it makes no sense. Apparently, when the game was brought to the States, Capcom wanted to relocalize it so that it would have as many different characters from as many Disney productions as possible, forgetting all about the story. In the Japanese version of the game, the Queen of Hearts kidnaps Alice, which makes a little more sense than the main perp being Maleficent and having all sorts of cronies at her side from Kaa to Pete. Now this is what I don't get: Pete's always been Mickey's arch nemesis, and he's depicted on the North American cover art. However, he's not the final boss, instead the main antagonist from Sleeping Beauty is cast in that part. That bothers me. The world's supposed to be Wonderland, but it has nothing to do with Wonderland at all - it's just a series of totally random, typical platformer levels. Of course, my bickering makes even less sense than the game's plot, since it really doesn't matter to the target audience, as long as there's a big palette of colours and a somewhat loveable host of familiar characters in it. I'm just a nitpicking old fart and nobody loves me.
|Welcome to the forest of doom.|
I don't rightly know how to go over most of the game's problems without making this sound some sort of a stripped walkthrough. The main problem is Minnie, without a doubt, but ironically she's also the most essential part of your success. She packs her own firepower, which does give you a huge advantage, especially in boss fights. The greatest thing about her is a developmental error - for real. You see, if you play alone, Minnie follows a certain pattern of movement based on Mickey's, but she usually moves a short distance away from Mickey, meaning she can get stuck. You cannot leave the screen without Minnie in tow, which calls for some serious frustration and sometimes even reluctant backtracking straight into harm's way just to get Minnie to follow you again. Vertical platform jumping across one single screen is downright impossible to execute without Minnie getting stuck once. Luckily the only extensive platforming in this game takes place in the final level. This all sounds bad, I know, but you can use Minnie's non-existent A.I. to your advantage, as well. I'll get to it.
The first stage is a "Fun House", while in reality it's far from fun. It's basically a house built of two cubic rooms with several floors in each room. You need to climb up the first room, move to the other one, visit the bottom, defeat the boss cooped up in there (the witch from Snow White), then backtrack your way to your starting point, which is actually the exit. Backtracking's the key word: man, this level is easy and boring. I thought the game was all about similar levels, but in the second level, Mickey Mousecapade _luckily_ turns into a generic, straightforward platformer with some mild puzzles, some of which are just simply tales from the crypt and nothing more.
|Is anyone else reminded of the first Mega Man |
The third stage takes us to The Woods, and this is where the game takes the decisive turn to leave an extremely sour, irritating aftertaste. I'm sure you remember the wrap-up sequences from The Legend of Zelda, Metal Gear and Final Fantasy, in which you needed to find the single correct route to make progress, all other routes took you to an endless spiral. Super Mario Bros. already had that one castle with the same concept. Well, that's exactly what the woods are about. That, and a pack of annoying, bouncing enemies that are nearly impossible to hit, on a constant stampede. I won't lie to you, it took me nearly an hour to figure this place out, and the final revelation was a pure accident. There are many doors here. Some take you to the beginning of the level, while some lead you to a differently coloured forest - it's based on the four seasons. It's simple enough, right? Well, the thing is that none of the doors take you to where you need to go. You can try all different combinations twice, three or four times, but it won't work. When I finally gave up, I started to shoot stars all over the place and figured out that you can actually shoot at trees to find secret passages. Tales from the crypt indeed! There's no clear indication that you can shoot at trees, and to put a cap on it, you need to shoot at the ROOTS of the trees, otherwise it won't work. Well, after about ten more minutes, I finally made it to the end and faced off against Kaa from The Jungle Book, in a boss fight that was perfectly identical to the previous two. So, I figured at this point that the boss fights won't change. And I was pretty much right about that, but what I didn't expect was that Kaa is the last challenging boss in the game.
|The dark castle of pink and baby blue.|
...But that's it for her usefulness. A similar trick can be used on certain enemies in the final level, "The Castle", but like I said, platform jumping with Minnie in tow is nightmarish. If you can somehow survive this level's awkward ways and enemies ripped straight off Super Mario Bros. 2 for the localization, with even a couple of ticks of health intact, you will beat the game. You see, I picked up a sure-fire strategy for Maleficent as well. All you need to do is somehow get behind her, and if you manage to stay there, you will beat her in absolutely no time and she is unable to hit you. I'll always remember her as one of the most difficult bosses in the first Kingdom Hearts game. This "kind of" toned down my dead-silent respect for her. Anyway, that's it, that's the end of the game... thank God!
|It's not cheating, it's called taking advantage.|
Mickey Mousecapade isn't from the bottom end of 8-bit platformers, but it sure could be a little less cryptic, and in turn, a little more playable. Minnie's so God damn useless most of the time, it's like you're hauling a huge, non-co-operative rock around. I know there's also a special enemy disguised as a power-up in the interior levels that can sometimes kidnap Minnie and force you on an extremely tedious backtracking course to save your significant other, but I never bumped into him even while I had to play through the first level three times. It's a good thing, too - I read the details and if I had experienced that once, I would've probably gone insane.
GRAPHICS : 8.5
SOUND : 7.5
PLAYABILITY : 5.9
LIFESPAN : 6.0
CONCLUSION : 6.0
a.k.a. Mickey Mouse (JAP)