Castle of Illusion
Disney magic is in the air. Capcom’s DuckTales: Remastered is now available for download, and Sega’s remake of the 1990 hit Castle of Illusion is coming next. Sega Studios Australia is developing the remake, but the director of the original Genesis game, Emiko Yamamoto, was consulted during the project. We spoke with Yamamoto about her work on the original game. She discusses Mickey’s idle animations and the inspiration for the evil Mizrabel’s name.
The animation on the original Castle of Illusion is wonderful. How did the team pull it off?
For animation we studied the [Disney] films frame by frame and worked very hard to recreate it in the game. For example, with Mickey’s jump, we wanted to fully express his body movement so we added more frames of animation. As a result, his jump ended up being longer than a jump would be in a normal game, so we had to design the levels so that the distance of his jump worked.
The backgrounds in the original and the remake are very lively. Do you ever run the risk of making backgrounds too distracting in side-scrolling platformers?
As a platformer, it’s always in our mind to make sure that the background elements never make it confusing to know where to jump next. A background that is too busy could cause this, so there is always a balance you need to maintain. There are various techniques we do, like added lighting to edges, to make sure that you can see where you can jump to next.
Castle of Illusion features one of the first-ever idle animations. Can you tell me more about the inspiration behind that?
Actually this was something the main programmer and animator came up with. I recall them coming to me and showing me what they created (the idle animation and also the animation for when Mickey was wavering at the edge of a platform) and I was pleasantly surprised. I asked them “Oh, we can do something like this? Sure, let’s do it!” Making sure the world and characters feel alive was very important to the team.
What are the advantages of avoiding a one-to-one remake of the original?
When we made the game, we had a clear vision of what we wanted to make. The Genesis game is the best we were able to do technologically to bring that vision to life. With the current power of video game consoles, we can finally express what we wanted to do. In a way you can say that this is a one-to-one remake of the vision for the game, but utilizing the power of current machines to convey it in ways we were unable to do in the original Genesis game.
Why are you credited as Emirin in the credits of the original Castle of Illusion?
At the time, there was a company rule that no one was able to use their real names in the credits of the game. Emirin is just a spin-off of my first name, Emiko – I just thought up a nickname and went with it.
Why did the team of the original Castle of Illusion decide to have players press the jump button again to bounce on enemies?
When we were testing the game, we felt that just having the jump happen automatically without input didn’t make players feel like they were the one doing the jumps. One of the key elements in the original is the enemy sets and they are set up in ways that you can bounce from enemy to enemy in a row – adding that timing mechanic and input made the players feel good and in control.
The evil witch Mizrabel from Castle of Illusion looks and acts a lot like the evil Queen from Snow White. What are Mizrabel’s origins?
Mizrabel is inspired by the Queen in Snow White, but is an original character. In the reimagined version I think this really comes out. She looks unique and we even gave her a voice so I hope you look forward to seeing her! As for her name, at the time of the original, the play Les Miserables was very popular, which helped inspire the name Mizrabel.