perjantai 13. toukokuuta 2011

REVIEW - Mickey's Ultimate Challenge (1994)

GENRE(S): Puzzle
RELEASED: February 1994
DEVELOPER(S): Designer Software
PUBLISHER(S): Hi Tech Expressions, Tec Toy (SMS)

Before making another educational Mickey Mouse game exclusively for the NES, Hi Tech produced a game called Mickey's Ultimate Challenge for Nintendo and Sega's handhelds and 16-bit consoles; the game was also ported to the Sega Master System in 1998. The game is a very strange, somewhat educational compilation of a few minigames and puzzles for young children, and I frankly do not see any reason why someone would have ever paid for it. It can be tricky, but it is extremely short and just somewhat entertaining by perhaps one semi-quarter of that short length.

Beanwick - blink and you'll miss it

Donald, when I get out of here, I'm so going to
kick your barenaked ass.
Mickey falls asleep while reading a fairytale about the kingdom of Beanwick, and ends up there in his dream. He begins to unravel the mystery behind the kingdom's periodical, inexplicable earthquakes.

Mickey's Ultimate Challenge is an educational game in its own way, but it's rather a puzzle game mainly designed to measure one's memory and logic. The highest difficulty level is really frustrating in every possible sense, just the gameplay mechanics alone make it really hard to beat. The lowest one is a bit too easy, but I guess the medium difficulty could be the family fun the box art makes the game out to be... if the game was any longer, and if the puzzles were any more fun.

The graphics are pretty good, for an educational title that is. They usually tend to be pretty damn ugly and since they're usually based on some real video game franchise, their ugliness is easy to compare to the main series' grandeur, but Mickey's Ultimate Challenge looks quite OK, after all it is licensed by the Walt Disney Company. The music is horrible to begin with, and horribly sequenced.

Gee, I've always wanted to play a game with a
You have five rooms to visit in this game, and one final "boss fight", which in reality is just another puzzle, to deal with. You can do the puzzles in any order. First up from left to right is Horace Horsecollar's library, in which you need to sort books into an alphabetical order by jumping between them, and your feet must not touch the ground. Logical platform jumping, how nice... until the books start disappearing from under you at a total random, with no apparent reason. This is basically easy as hell, but it takes a lot of tries because every time you fall down to the ground, you must start over immediately. In other words, it's extremely frustrating, regardless of the difficulty level which really doesn't mean jack in this case, since the "difficulty" is based on enfuriating randomness and your ability to jump from one narrow platform to another for an extended while.

Next up, Donald the magician's tower. Donald accidentally shrinks you and you are taken to a poor man's Eggerland game, in which you need to push vials of magic potion through a simple labyrinth to a magic mirror so that Donald can change you back to your normal self. This is also very easy, regardless of the difficulty level. The difficulty level only applies to the amount of screens you need to empty of those vials. On the highest difficulty level, this puzzle takes forever to complete but it's still as simple, easy and generic as it is on the easiest one. BORING!

And you Junior Woodchucks are supposed to
be so smart.
Daisy's art gallery is a nightmare on the highest level. You need to clean dust off a series of paintings before Daisy's torch goes out. That doesn't sound so hard until you realize that it's actually a matching game, and the amount of paintings varies between the difficulty levels. You can't afford to make many mistakes on the highest one, the time limit is very unforgiving. I had to start over at this point and change to medium difficulty, I didn't want to break my controller out of frustration.

Huey, Dewey and Louie have a broken drawbridge you need to fix by jumping on these four pipes in the correct order. You're shown the patterns once, and you need to repeat them for a certain amount of times that varies on each difficulty level to solve the nephews' problem. This is another extremely easy puzzle.

Goofy works as a blacksmith in Beanwick and he challenges you to guess the contents of his toolbox. This puzzle begins easy. You choose four tools and their order (there can be multiple items of the same type), and Goofy tells you which ones you guessed right. Following up on that, you need to get all the four tools and their order right before you run out of guesses. This puzzle gets ridiculously twisted, hard and cryptic towards the end, even on the medium difficulty. I just don't get it, so I can't even begin to explain it. I beat it with sheer luck.

For the record, I loathe slide puzzles.
Oh well, following all of this you should have five key items, and in the style of Mario's Time Machine, as well as Mario Is Missing! in a certain way, you need to take these key items to their rightful owners to get five magic beans. The solution to this "puzzle" is obvious, it's just a pointless errand to prolong the game a little. Well, then you need to go to the wishing well, throw the beans in and watch in awe as a giant freakin' beanstalk stretches out from the ground into the sky. If you have any sense for fairytales, you'll climb that beanstalk...

...To find a snoring giant. He's the "main villain"; his snoring is the reason for the earthquakes in Beanwick. You need to solve one final puzzle: a scrambled slide puzzle depicting an alarm clock. Juicy. When it's done, the alarm clock rings, the giant wakes up and so do you. End of game. In less than 25 minutes. Did you really expect this game to really pick up at some point? Oh, you poor thing.

It's not only that the game is so short and pointless, the puzzles aren't even fun! They're either ultra-easy, mega-cryptic, or just plain frustrating drivels with obvious solutions but bad mechanics. There's really not much more to say, the game's useless being literally left me speechless. "Family fun"? Yes, maybe if your whole family consists of two-year olds who have unlimited patience and no ability to judge. This game sucks worse than Hi Tech's educational ones!

SOUND : 4.0


GameRankings: 65.00% (GB), 51.25% (GEN)

The last game ever released for the Sega Master System.

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