I'm still friends with most of the people I spent my childhood with, and most of them have been telling me that, eventually, I'd grow out of Disney. They like heavy metal music and tight jeans and magic mushrooms, so for them, Disney probably seems like the sort of thing you'd grow out of at around the same time you stop wearing Superman pyjamas.
I'm still wearing my Superman pyjamas.
I was giddy when I first loaded up SEGA's new Castle of Illusion remake starring Mickey Mouse. And not in the Kingdom Hearts way, where you can pretend to be enjoying the Final Fantasy nostalgia, either. I was genuinely excited to return to Mickey Mouse after so many years without him in my life, and to be playing a remastered version of a game I spent hours enjoying as a child was nothing if not icing on the cake.
The opening cinematic, one of the many improvements made to this new version, perfectly captured the style of the experience I was about to undertake. Mickey and Minnie Mouse are enjoying a picnic in the sun when, as if out of nowhere, a storm approaches.
As expected, the evil witch Mizrabel reveals herself as the culprit for the sudden climate change and proceeds to kidnap Minnie, forcing Mickey to charge forward on an unknown adventure through the Castle of Illusion.
It's here that the first of many new changes to the original Castle of Illusion recipe emerges; in Mario 64 esque fashion, the Castle of Illusion is represented as a gameplay lobby of sorts, allowing you to work your way through the 5 worlds in whichever order you choose... provided that you have all the required diamonds to open the door, of course.
There are 75 diamonds hidden within each of the 10 levels, and collecting them all isn't easy (just ask those watching the 100% livestream - only 11 to go!) alongside a castle status that, once collected will appear in the lobby, and a secret item that unlocks new costumes for Mickey.
That's really the extent of the collectables, and a dedicated gamer will likely have them all within a few hours. That said, a new gamer, perhaps one as young as many of us were the first time we played Castle of Illusion on the SEGA Genesis, should find themselves working at it for quite a bit longer.
For those that have played the original (and especially if you've already tried out Capcom's new DuckTales Remastered) this may come as a shock, but this remake is not entirely true to the source material. There are obvious similarities, and the first boss at the end of the Enchanted Forest is still a tree, but outside the general themes of each level there's not much left of the original design.
Which is fantastic. Not to bring down the incredible quality of the original - that'll have a place in my heart forever - but this new version, presented in 2D with 3D models and a fresh new take on level design feels like an entirely new game. Moreover, kids of today's generation can revisit the same experiences as I had when I was their age in a format that's much more in line with the type of games released in today's generation.
That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the 'true-to-the-source' style of DuckTales Remastered - I loved it - and yet, I love this too. I'm not here to tell you which remake style I like better, because the truth is I don't really know, but I can tell you this: I really hope we start seeing a lot more remakes in the Castle of Illusion vein.
The only real drawback here is the length of the game; running in at only a few hours for a complete run through (and likely a lot quicker if you're practiced at this sort of thing) and less than 10 for a complete 100% clear, it feels as though more could have been done to increase the longevity of the experience.
In DuckTales, they had an entire section of the game dedicated to unlockable artwork and music that required cash earned in the game to see. This offered plenty of replay ability, and combined then with 4 difficulty modes left me feeling as though I had plenty more to complete when I came back.
With Castle of Illusion, after unlocking 3 costumes and adding a few statues to the lobby, I was mostly done, and I was plenty hungry for more.
That's not really a fault against the game that is there though; it's a wonderful, if short, romp through a classic video game with a fresh new style and plenty of Disney fanfare, and one that your younger siblings are going to adore.
Fun Fact: You can change the music from the remastered versions to the classic soundtrack in the options, but only from the main menu.