There are certain games from the glory days of 8 and 16-bit gaming that I can look back on and instantly get that warm, fuzzy “nostalgic” vibe about. The original Castle of Illusion game for the Sega Genesis was one such game. This was back in the days when Disney pulled out sheer magic in their games, which lost their way when Disney Interactive abandoned their animated heroes and started schlepping out the latest Disney Channel star.

But I digress.

Castle of Illusion wasn’t focused on the latest animated film or Disney Afternoon show of the time. It was an all-original game for the still young Genesis, and it was truly a remarkable title: Beautfiul graphics, wonderful music, excellent animation, and a very strange and quirky diversity in the levels and scenarios Mickey found himself in. Even if you sneered at the concept of playing a Mickey Mouse game, the sheer quality and ingeniousness of this title won you over.

So the concept of a remake had a lot to live up to. The pseudo sequel Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion for the 3DS was good, but required a lot of level grinding to survive some of the nastier enemies. The new game was a mix of 2D and 3D, and some games just can’t top the original. So how did this one fare?

It is a very loving homage to the original, and while it tries to do its own thing at times, it doesn’t deviate too much from what made the first one special.

You can tell the developers were fans, as all the key moments of the original game were there. From giant apples to killer A’s to candy dragons, spooky ghosts, and flooded labyrinths, it has all of that present. But it adds a few unique moments and little nods that don’t try to overshadow the original ideas, but more compliment and add on to them.

For starters, there’s more story now. A narrator gives some play by play during the levels, and it’s charming in some places and not distracting overall. There are some downsides to this, however: If you die, hearing the same dialogue gets repetitive, and cutscenes can’t be skipped. Not a big deal until the end boss, who is utterly merciless and allows for little margin of error. While the majority of cutscenes are brief, the two that play before Mizrabel are just annoying after the fourth time.

Difficulty otherwise is fair. In harder moments (save the last boss), if you can’t make it through a difficult section, but get close enough, the game will advance you just enough to get through the area, so repetition isn’t an issue. Make no mistake, this is a platformer, and the game calls upon those skills to be put into play. Fortunately, the game’s controls are very responsive, and very rarely did I feel that an error wasn’t of my own doing.

Graphics are excellent. The original game had a real “wow” factor as it did things visually that other games simply weren’t at the time, so part of that initial appeal is lost. That said, there are little flourishes and visual touches that really stand out and look wonderful. The game recreates the original world very well. Music is good, though less tracks from the original were used than I would have thought. The new musical parts aren’t bad, but I sorely missed certain themes, and would have liked to have heard an updated version.

Overall, the new Castle of Illusion is a respectable update to the classic game. It excels in graphics and platforming, but it lacks that magical feeling of “never seen before” the original had, and the Mizrabel battle, between the unskippable cutscenes, and the brutal demandingly precise difficulty, kind of deflates the final moments of an otherwise good game. It is playable and fun? Definitely. Is it good for original game purists? It does make for a nice revisitation, and won’t insult fans who loved Mickey’s first Sega romp.

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