Thursday, November 29, 2012

Impressions: World of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck (GEN)

Received: November 7th, 2012 / Written: November 25th-29th, 2012
World of Illusion starring
Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
Year: 1992 | Developed by: Sega (AM7) | Published by: Sega

The underwater sea is such a miraculous
It seems to me that I just can't get enough of these Disney-licensed titles, especially when they star Mickey Mouse; hell, this is the fifth 2D Mickey Mouse platformer I got this year (maybe I should take a break?).  Sega's first Disney platformer for their MegaDrive/Genesis console Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse was such a big hit back when it came out in 1990, and rightfully so, because I thought it was very fun when I played it for the first time last month, and I considered it the best Mickey Mouse game I played.  It was one of those games I found charming and effective despite their overall simplicity.  The following year QuackShot starring Donald Duck (I haven't played it yet) came out for the same console, and it too enjoyed the success of Mickey's first 16-bit adventure...  =|  Wait that game didn't do well with critics, I don't think, nevermind!  *clears throat*  Let me try something a little more accurate: Sega, noticing that gamers were enjoying both Mickey's and Donald's first 16-bit games so immensely, one day figured "Hey, why not have these two Disney favorites in the same game, and turn it into a two-player experience?"  So a sequel was born!  =)  And the sequel is different than fans of the first title expected but regardless, here it is, ready to be talked about today: World of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck!  Yeah, that's a lengthy mouthful of a title, isn't it?  So from this point onward I'm going to simplify the name to World of Illusion!  So, yeah, let's delve in!!  =D

World of Illusion was also a game I've been interested in for years, but after I played Castle of Illusion I wondered if it was going to live up to the expectations and enjoyment set by the first game.  I heard mixed feelings on this sequel; some thought it was superior to Castle while others thought it was a major step down.  So what I did was I tried not to have high expectations, so I lowered them before playing, and honestly that's a good thing.  =)  Let's start off the impressions by saying that you can play as either Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck in this adventure, and if you preferred one character over the other, then World of Illusion simply offered the best of both worlds.
Well, more or less...  There are no difficulty settings this time around.  =(  So I guess you must be wondering: did I think it was a good follow-up to the 1990 hit?  Let's all find out together!
And yes, I am a brony, and I am proud to be one!  I like Friendship is Magic, I think it's a charming and likable animated show, and in my opinion it's one of the best animated shows of the 2010's right alongside Phineas and Ferb.  Please don't judge me, non-bronies.

"Uh, I don't know, Donald.  I don't trust this
box at all!" replies Mickey.
One day, Mickey and Donald are practicing their magician skills for a magic act that's about to come soon.  So they both aspire to become magicians?  Who knew!  Anyway, Mickey performs this one trick which startles Donald and sends him flying back; in the process, he unveils a box of mysterious origin.  Mickey and Donald are surprised to see it backstage, so they come to inspect it.  Donald wants to try it and use it as part of their act, but Mickey has his doubts.  Little did Donald realize, however, that entering the creepy-looking box would lead to his untimely demise.  I kid, I kid!  XD  What does happen as Donald enters it is that he gets transported to an entirely different world, and soon after Mickey follows.  A big, ominous hooded figure then appears and tells them that he will help them out of his world... on the sole condition that they get past all the areas and obstacles set against them and ultimately defeat him in the end.  So this is a tale of escape, pretty much; that's cool.  Will Mickey and Donald ever get out of the titular World of Illusion (no connection to the first game's Castle from the same moniker)?  Will they ever see their friends and family back home, and will they be back just in time for their magic act to start?  Also, will the mysterious hooded figure maintain his word?  There's no time to waste, so put your magic skills to the test and try to escape this wonderfully surreal, magical world!

Now this is what I call an ideal piano!
In the sky!!  =D
Controls are different from the last game, and they are pretty nice and polished.  Gone is the "hop & bop" gameplay (as RVGFanatic would call it) that dominated the previous adventure, and now this time around Mickey and Donald attack enemies and bosses by using their capes.  Also in this adventure, there are three assigned actions: attacking with the cape, jumping, and lastly, running.  Your character can also crawl through tight spaces if you hold down the jump button while crouching when moving left or right.  The game controls pretty nicely, and the gameplay feels polished as well.  Although, not to sound like I'm complaining, but why not have the attacking and running abilities assigned to just one button (like the Super Mario Bros. series) for one of the control types in the options screen?  I'm not saying it's a problem or anything, I'm just saying!

As previously mentioned, you could take control as either Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, and if there was another gamer by your side then you could play with both characters simultaneously.  Your character has a health capacity of eight (that's generous), and throughout the game you'll be contending with enemies and collecting "?" bags with any of the following content: cards, candy for one patch of health, a blue card that offers temporary invincibility, a slice of cake that refills your whole health, and lastly, there is a rocket item.  These rockets are scarce, for you won't find many of them, but when you do find them what will happen is that it will launch in the sky, show off some fireworks, and then affect all enemies on screen.  The enemies don't die here, but rather if your cape touches them they'll be turning into different creatures, such as butterflies and flowers.  I like that, it's quite a nice touch.  In keeping with the magic theme, after you defeat each boss, a chest will appear with a manuscript that teaches you a special magic trick that you can use in the next particular stage anytime you exclaim "Alakazam!"; a few of these are encasing yourself in a bubble so you won't drown underwater, and in another you use it to make a flying carpet appear so you can fly in the sky.  The types of magic are really nice, and I like how there's variety in each of them.

Nooooo!!!  Not another tasty-looking area!!
Hasn't my tummy been through enough??  =(
Without a shadow of a doubt, the visuals for this sequel have vastly improved since Castle of Illusion!  Each worlds are beautiful to look at, for they present so much detail and color, not to mention that each stage has a really inviting, magical look to them.  What's cool is that some stages and themes are inspired by previous Disney movies, such as The Little Mermaid, The Sword in the Stone, and Alice in Wonderland.  To name some examples, the very first area sets you in an enchanted forest setting, with some line scrolling and moving foregrounds to add some depth, afterwards it takes place inside a mine with diamonds seen in the background and filled with bright spider-webs.  Another area takes place in the sky with a large abundance of clouds, and what's pretty cool is how there are a couple times you might come across piano keys made out of clouds.  That is both ingenious and imaginative.  =)  The underwater portions look dazzling, what with all the different blue hues on the horizon, and I love how it's all wavy in the backdrop (just check out that castle).  The final stage even has some gorgeous-looking moments.  Unfortunately this is one of those games that has at least one food-themed area, with cakes and chocolates and sweets among the place; while very pretty-looking, it can easily make gamers crave a big appetite if looked at too long.  In another subject, I really love the way the plot unfolds in storybook format, since I feel it evokes a mystical sense to it.  =)
Don't mess with Donald!
The character and enemy designs are great.  Mickey and Donald animate very fluidly, they move and run really smoothly, and I like the way the cape looks when it's being used against your foes.  The main duo look really detailed, and I like how Mickey's and Donald's character sprites are faithful to those of the short toons they starred in; even though I admit I do miss anime-Mickey from Castle of Illusion.  The enemies and bosses are also designed nicely, and what's cool is how some of them make appearances from classic Disney fare, like the crazy shewitch Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone, the card guards from Alice in Wonderland, and that one pencil/ruler-hybrid creature from the special Donald Duck in Mathmagic Land (awesome cameo!  I loved that short flick when I was little!!), to name a few.  The final boss looks highly-detailed and shaded, even if he fills up the majority of the screen.

It's so beautiful!!!  ='D
Soundwise, it's all right.  The MegaDrive/Genesis doesn't have the greatest of sound cabilities, but done with the right touch, it can be effective and fun to listen to in its own way.  Sega succeeds with that somewhat.  The instrumentation is nice, and a lot of the songs that are heard here are memorable and catchy in their own right, though I couldn't help but notice that there was some soft underscoring in the mix for this game.  But still, the songs are nice.  The song that plays during the plot portion of the intro pays great homage to Maleficent's theme from the underrated animated feature Sleeping Beauty, and boy does it sound menacing and brooding with Sega's sound chip.  The first stage theme sounds charming, the underwater third stage theme sounds wonderful yet haunting, and the fourth stage themes sound good.  Some songs are emotion-driven (in my opinion), and a few songs do a good job at delivering an ominous mood without straying far from the lighthearted tone, not to mention one of the final areas delivers a fittingly mystifying aura.  The regular boss theme is good while the final boss theme is loud and foreboding, which is great.  The best song, I feel, plays during the credits sequence, for it's charmingly lighthearted and at one point goose-bump inducing (it's that good).

The sound effects are decent, though not exactly up to par with the background music.  They're not bad, and some are even fun to listen to; such as the sound the cape makes whenever it successfully transforms the enemy into something different, the sound for when the character roams around the sea inside a bubble, and the escalating notes of the piano whenever you step on each note from right to left (albeit sharply).  In this adventure, there are actual voice samples of Mickey and Donald used whenever they take damage, anytime they say "Wow!", and everytime they say "Alakazam!"  Even though it sounds a tad muffled, it's still a technical achievement for Sega's console, and they sound good.  They sound so much like Mickey and Donald, that it makes me wonder if I'm hearing the voice clips of the late Wayne Allwine and the current Tony Anselmo, respectively?  I'm pretty convinced that it must be the case, but either way, it's so cool!

This bit gives a real sense of mystery and
wonder  =)
World of Illusion is a good game and a loyal follow-up to the magnificent predecessor Castle of Illusion, even though they are connected by title only, and not through gameplay and plot (no references to Sega's first Mickey Mouse game, either).  The areas are bright, wonderful, and colorful, and I like how each of them have a good amount of depth and atmosphere that help bring it to life.  The songs are good, and the gameplay really shines thanks to its polish, responsiveness, and intuitiveness.  The stage designs are good, and it's one charming, magical adventure.  Now with that said, how does it stack up with the first game?  Remember when I said before that Castle of Illusion could be beaten in around a half hour?  Well, this game can be beaten in less time than that, and there are a few moments that present some challenge, even though for the most part it's a very easy game; even easier than the first title, which says a lot (though give that game some credit, it at least tried).  The choice to play as either Mickey and Donald was a really wise choice Sega made, but the lack of a difficulty setting reduces its status by a margin.  But what it lacks in difficulty modes it more than makes up for with diversity.  There are still five stages regardless of who you play as, but what's neat is that depending on which character you play as, you'll be heading to one portion of the stage that was made exclusively for either Mickey or Donald; for example, Mickey is the only one who flies to the stars on a cork, and Donald is the only one who heads to the islands during that one bit in the third stage.  I looked up that there is an exclusive stage for when both characters are active, though I've yet to see those.  So at least there's some notable replay value to be had.  The only HUD you're shown are your health and the amount of lives you've got, and that's great; though I can't help but feel that the upper right hand corner could've been used for something else.  Overall, World of Illusion is always a fun game to play every now and then, and it's always fun while it lasts, despite its shortcomings.  It's lighthearted, charming, and enjoyable, not to mention a neat atmospheric adventure with some cool boss fights.  It's not the first game, but it's a good game in its own right.  Simply put: this platformer was both a step forward and a step backward.  I thought it was brief yet amiable!  =)

My Impressions: 8.5
Thank you for reading, please leave a comment!  =)

P.S.: I haven't played Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion yet, but I hope to do so before the year ends!  I just hope that it doesn't have a mouthwatering food stage as well.
P.S. 2: In all seriousness, I knew that Mickey was a magician one time in one of his cartoons long ago, but I never knew Donald was one at one point.
P.S. 3: I apologize if that one joke in the plot portion felt tasteless.  =(
P.S. 4: By the way, I absolutely love how other Disney characters are mentioned in the "starring" lineup during the prelude to the title even though they're reduced to one time cameos.
P.S. 5: Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck would abandon their profession as magicians under Sega's wing three years later to star in another platformer together: Capcom's Mickey & Donald: Magical Adventure 3 for the Super Famicom (which sadly I have not played yet).


  1. So, it looks like this game would be perfect for my 6-year-old?

    Thanks for the review!

    1. Yeah, I think your child will enjoy it. Also, no problem! =) Always glad to be of some video game-related service.