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Castle of Illusion

There are plenty of games I spent countless hours of my youth playing, but there are a select few that are absolutely sacred to me. This year, a good number of titles, even franchises were resurrected in one form or another, and one of them is from some of my earliest childhood memories. That game is the classic Sega Genesis title, Castle of Illusion. Now, I’m not the biggest Disney fan, and far from a huge modern Mickey Mouse guy. In fact the last animated Disney movie I enjoyed was Hercules. But, Castle of Illusion was just absolute fun on so many levels that it really felt like the final entry of the Disney I knew and loved. When I heard the news that it was being rebooted, it actually infuriated me. How dare they mess with such a classic! This is a title that doesn’t need to be altered or “reimagined” in any way given how it still stands the test of time. It’s like trying to reboot The Godfather or They Live!

But yet I was chomping at the bit for weeks, counting the days until this hit the Xbox 360, and not for this new version. I bought this version largely for the classic version that I swear I read was going to be included. But, nope, I was incredibly wrong, as it was only available if you pre-ordered the game on the PlayStation 3. Hopefully they make the original Genesis version available on the Xbox Live Arcade, even if I do have to shell out moe money for a downloadable content ROM of the game that may very well come with zero achievements. I don’t care, that version is fun, unlike this one so far…

I have only completed the first set of stages within the castle itself, and even after a minute of stage 1-1, I could tell this wasn’t going to be the same game in any way, and it all starts with the graphics. Immediately the artwork rings of modern Disney, using computers to try to recapture the early days of their artwork with sleek, digital “painted” background that look too mechanical to have been made my human programmers. Because of this, the dark, grim atmosphere the original version had is essentially wiped away, screaming more of a fairy tale composed in The Matrix. And then there’s the gameplay, which finds the frame rate off just enough to make Mickey and any other creature or character move in a headache inducing choppy manner. And how can you forget the obvious Super Mario 64 level select by unlocking doors in the castle when you earn gems, but you still go through doors instead of painting.

On top of that, Mickey doesn’t shut the hell up half the time, and you want to ring his little mousey neck. I’ve caught myself yelling at him to be quiet, as if his fictional, digital self could respond to such a vocal command without the microphone even being plugged in. I blame this on the Sega Dreamcast game Seaman and how I use to yell at my belligerent little aquatic mutant when it didn’t respond properly, or at all. Someone also decided to include narration, and in certain situations even the narrator won’t shut the hell up. What’s worse, sometimes the voice shifts out of the somewhat dramatic approach and gets a bit soft, addressing you like you’re playing some kind of Winnie the Pooh game, and you have to rescue Eeyore from Piglet or whatever stupid blunder he got himself into, collecting honey instead of gems, and then when you beat the game find it was all a plot to throw you a surprise birthday party. Even the music can match that tone sometimes, once in a while coming across one that works with what little atmosphere the graphics are creating.

The other annoying part about this title is that the game costs fifteen dollars (North America), and the file size is barely over three hundred and fifty megabytes. The brand new Arcade version of World Series of Poker is over one gigabyte and that’s a poker game you can download now for free! If I remember correctly, the increase from ten dollars is meant to help cover costs for games that are larger in file size, and not to tack on an additional five bucks because you’re Disney and incredibly money hungry, cashing in on one of the most memorable game titles of the Genesis era and “reimagining” it without even testing to make sure the frame rate isn’t lagging, or even that the controls all work properly. Yes, another major issue is that the controls, especially the jump button, seems to be delayed by a second, and sometimes you’ll walk off the edge of a platform despite still being on it the same way you were on the last two.

After completing the first three levels of stage/door one, I am far from impressed. In fact, I’m horribly let down to the point where I sat on my sofa staring at the screen and nearly broke down into tears, followed by rage when I was told this is an incredibly short game, and the original ROM is only for PlayStation 3 users who pre-ordered it. All the magic and atmosphere the Genesis version had with it’s sixteen-bit visuals captured the appropriate mood so quickly that it was hard not to get sucked in from the very moment the game play started. Now, we’re left with the glamorous world of Disney, the modern kid-friendly version that clearly was redesigned to meet the digital and mechanical demands of the #YOLOSWAG generation! Disney and Sega literally kali ma’d this title in front of everyone who grew up with it, and, the most revolting part of all this is that I shelled out that fifteen dollars to play this necromancied heartless garbage they just spit out and knew idiots like me who are dedicated to the game would just throw the money down blindly.

And the worst part about all this? This is just my first impression. I haven’t even gotten too deep into it yet…

Castle of Illusion
Castle of Illusion
Castle of Illusion

Digital review material for this article provided by personal funds.