Genre: Platformer Developer: Disney Software Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1-2 Released: 1992
With most of the attention going to the battle being waged between Sonic and Mario, the Mickey Mouse series was almost ignored by most of America in the early ’90s. Most of his games were shelf-sitters and bargain bin warmers, some with good reason (Fantasia anyone?). A few, however, were actually pretty good. Titles such as Castle of Illusion, Mickey Mania, and of course, World of Illusion come to mind. To be fair to Mickey, Sony Imagesoft did a great job advertising Mickey Mania, hence its success.
The story goes as follows: Mickey and Donald are preparing for a magic show when Donald comes upon a mysterious box. Both of our heroes get caught in the box, and an evil sorcerer tells them that the only way they can escape is by learning new spells and eventually defeat him. Apparently, Mickey and Donald are master magicians in their world and the sorcerer wants them to prove themselves.
There are basically three games here: Mickey’s, Donald’s, and a two-player extravaganza. Mickey’s quest is the most straight forward one, most likely for the younger kids who will almost always pick him first. Donald’s levels consist of timing and planning perfect jumps, making it the more difficult of the two. You can also bring along a friend for cooperative play and fight about who has to play Donald (like how green Starbursts exist just so you have something to share with a friend). The cooperative mode has an annoying “I’ll stand on a very small yet specific spot to put down the rope, and you try to catch it” gameplay element, which can cause acute insanity. Strategy and cooperation are mandated here, so players who decide to fly solo will ruin any fun to be had.
The control is pretty straightforward. Button A makes your character run, B is for attacking (a cool little carpet swish), and C is the jump button. If you carpet swish your partner, they get all twisted up, and become very vulnerable for a few seconds. Be sure to play with someone with at least some maturity or they’ll just swish you mercilessly as blue armor ants rain down and kill you. To get out of tight spots, hold down on the D pad and press B near a ledge to let down the rope. Try as I might, I haven’t really been able to master this technique yet.
The sound of the game is pretty good, which is to be expected with a Disney game. Whoever was able to make such great music from such a limited sound chip is very talented. The in-game sounds are a mix of your standard video game effects and some assorted Disney clips and some of the music is quite memorable, including the intro music, and the theme from Donald’s island hopping level. Sometimes, you’ll want to find a nice hiding spot in the game, let go of the controller, and just let the music take you. The final level’s music does a great job of making you feel like you’re near the end, which is what music should do in a game.
The levels are of great quality and there’s a good mix of different elements among them. On one level, you’re soaring through the sky on a magic carpet, while another has you in a giant bubble navigating under water. One of the game’s best stages has you actually flying around on a cork through space! The backgrounds and foregrounds are ripe with great detail and the graphical quality permeates throughout every part of each stage. The sprites are a decent size for such a game (any bigger wouldn’t work in cooperative mode) and characters are incredibly detailed. The only slowdown I really experienced was in the final level, where you have plenty of stuff going on, so it seems almost expected. Other than that, everything ran fine.
One small flaw in the game is the fact that without holding run, the game takes almost forever in some stages. To be fair, the normal walking speed is actually needed for levels where you’re required to watch your step, so it actually works out in the end.
Perhaps the biggest problem with World of Illusion is its length. You may find that you’ve beaten the game almost without even realizing it. I beat it in around 20 minutes, so it should take a even less time for more talented gamers. Although not particularly difficult, there are a few parts that may make you want to at least throw your controller against the wall, so maybe the playing on the Nomad wouldn’t be recommended (temper, temper!). Areas like Donald’s aforementioned island-hopping level and almost the entire two-player game come to mind.
All in all, World of Illusion is a great looking and sounding game. Many will find it a bit too easy and short, but it’s perfect for younger gamers looking to finally finish one. Highly recommended.
SCORE: 8 out of 10