And with that, the 8bit Mickey Mouse trilogy is complete! Well, I say it’s a trilogy, but apart from having Mickey and the name Illusion in it, Legend of Illusion isn’t really part of the series.
At first it seems like it is, but as well as how the story isn’t remotely linked, there are also a few things which set it apart. The main one of these is that Mickey can no longer bum-bump on baddies’ heads to defeat them. Instead, he throws soap (no, really) a feeble distance, a massive step back for the series and similar to one of the reasons I dislike the Mega Drive Castle of Illusion, where you throw apples. Further steps back include no more finding new routes through previous levels (like in Land of Illusion), no more power stars to find (you’re just handed the equivalent item instead), some rubbish bosses which require you to repeat the same attack some 10 times or so (in previous games it varied or was about 5-6 maximum, final boss Pete here was terrible), and the whole game is a complete walkover.
There’s also an additional issue where it isn’t a proper Master System game. It’s a back-port of the Game Gear version, and suffers from a much smaller viewport than the earlier titles (it’s bigger then the Game Gear one, but is badly implimented), and some odd glitching in the top “block” of the screen which I’m pretty sure isn’t related to the emulator I’m using.
It’s not quite all bad though. There are some nice new platforming gimmicks (like north and south magnets that repel or attract other as you’d expect), but they’re underused as the levels are pretty short. The rainbow level is very, very pretty and appears to squeeze more colours than is possible out of the Sega system, but again, is short and actually very dull to play.
What a shame a pair of excellent games had such a mediocre followup.
Stars in your eyes, little one / Where do you go to dream / To a place, we all know / The land of make believe.
Oh, spoilers I suppose. It was all a dream! Remember when seemingly half the games ever made were “all just a dream”? Land of Illusion is one of them.
It’s just like Castle of Illusion, only more! The levels are more varied and there are a lot more of them, for starters. You also have to return to earlier levels to find new routes once you’ve finished other levels: You gain various powers which allow access to previously unreachable areas, such as being able to climb walls, or shrink to get through narrow gaps.
It makes for an even better game than the original, although it isn’t really any harder (only longer). Legend of Illusion next? You knows it.
Hey Mickey you’re so fine, you’re so fine you’re a Parker Accountant, or possibly even a Parker Needlepoint.
I have always maintained that 16bit Disney platformers (and, actually, most of the newer ones than that) are dire. Without exception. Yes, even Aladdin. Even World of Illusion. Even Quackshot. All of them. 8bit Disney platformers, however, are a different class. On both the Master System and NES, there’s a massive selection of quality Disney titles, and one of the best, is Castle of Illusion.
It tells the same story as the Mega Drive game with the same name, and broadly visits the same worlds as you try to save Minnie from the evil witch Mizrabel. The Master System version obviously looks cut down and isn’t as pretty as the 16bit version, but it plays so much better. The levels have more platforming to them, the carrying items mechanic adds a bit more to the game, and Mickey doesn’t throw apples for no reason at all.
Castle of Illusion is fun from start to finish, with some excellent bosses (I’d never noticed before how the chocolate boss rips off a classic Mega Man mid-boss before though!) and clever level design. There’s a bit in the clock tower level where you have to use the same key twice via two different routes which I thought particularly ingenious. It takes a slight shortcut hiding two of the seven necessary Rainbow Gems in the levels rather than have seven levels (therefore having just five), but that’s hardly a big complaint.