E3 2013 – Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse hands-on preview

Castle Illusion logo


Platforming games used to be huge. They used to be system sellers. I still remember the day that I received an SNES with Super Mario World packed in. These days though, you’d be hard pressed to find more than a few decently budgeted platforming games; which is why a game like Castle of Illusion is as important to fans as it seems to be.

castle of illusion e3 demo pic 1

I was able to play both demo levels on display at E3 2013, and I have to say that the game was pretty challenging. The core gameplay is straightforward: you can jump on top of enemies, and you can throw objects at enemies. You can get hit five times before you die, but you only start with three stars (your health meter).

I found the jumping controls to be very loose. That’s a good thing if you want a ton of control over how you’re maneuvering in the air, but I can definitely see it being too much of a challenge for some people. While jumping in the air, there is little realistic momentum to stop you from twitching back and forth (as opposed to most Mario games which have a bit more weight to them). Super Mario World is one of the loosest in the Mario series as far as jumping controls go, and Castle of Illusion is even looser than that. Despite this, I was able to do a head-bounce combo of around five, happily destroying a squadron of toy soldiers.

castle of illusion e3 demo pic 2

In addition to controls which have to be gotten used to, the level design can be challenging as well. I’m well versed in the platforming world, having conquered most Mario games, Super Meat Boy, and several Sonic games, and I did lose a few mice along the way through the dark castle.

In one part, a giant ball rolls back and forth, and it’s typical fare that can be avoided, but if you do happen to get hit, it only takes once to cause your favorite mouse to be erased from existence. Another section of the castle had wooden boards that popped out, forcing you to follow their predetermined path. It was fairly fast paced–but again, one wrong jump could send Mickey to an un-Disney-like demise.

For those who aren’t sure, just know that this is not the exact same game as the original Genesis release. The themes are the same, but the level design and sometimes the enemies are entirely different. The graphics look great, as you can see in the pictures posted here. Mickey’s animations are butter-smooth, and it was amusing seeing him ducking and looking around anxiously. The gaming world needs more lighthearted games like this. Perhaps it was the challenge, but I actually liked what I played of this newer version more than that of the older one.

The Castle of Illusion: Starring Mickey Mouse is scheduled to be released sometime this Summer for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC (Steam) via downloadable means.

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