The lights are on
Pikachu may be many gamers’ favorite modern rodent, but Mickey was platforming across 8- and 16-bit adventures long before Pokémon. One of the Disney mascot’s most memorable quests is Castle of Illusion for the Sega Genesis. Sega Studios Australia is developing this high-definition remake of the game, which adds in a 3D hub world and boss fights. I played through a world filled with toy soldiers, Jack in the box enemies, and other sentient playthings.
The original Castle of Illusion features a 2D hub world filled with doors. This remake shifts hub navigation into a 3D area filled with doors locked with chains. These passages unlock as Mickey progresses. After getting my hands on the controller I steer Mickey through the only unlocked door.
Mickey enters a big, pastel colored world decorated with letter blocks and flying toy airplanes. Mickey takes out foes by leaping on their heads and throwing marbles picked up throughout the level. Holding down the jump button makes Mickey bounce higher into the air off enemies’ heads. Stringing together jump attacks across a line of toy soldiers is an easy task thanks to the responsive controls. Certain collectibles can only be reached with a perfectly timed jump attack, requiring thoughtful platforming.
Sega is preserving the game’s trademark challenge, and a few tricky sections put my skills to the test. A series of small Jack in the box enemies serve as platforms, requiring precise leaps. Mickey’s jumps feel a little floaty at first, but after some practice I get a good feel for his momentum and begin sticking landings without issue. After reaching the very top of the stage, the staircases I’ve been climbing collapse into slides that Mickey travels down, collecting marbles along the way.
The demo ends with a brief glimpse at the beginning of a 3D boss fight. Mickey approaches a circular arena and a huge Jack in the box clown lands in the center. He begins bouncing around trying to crush Mickey – a new take of the boss battle from the original. The game fades to black and tells me the game will be arriving this summer.
The Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse’s side-scrolling, three-dimensional visuals look great. The visuals have been updated in HD without losing the feel of the original. The 2D platforming feels good at this point in development, but the 3D boss fights will have me curious until I try one out. Fans of old school platforming should keep Castle of Illusion HD on their radar leading up to its release on PC, XBLA, and PSN.
Read about how DreamRift was originally approached to develop Castle of Illusion
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