Retro Review: World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck

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With the remake of Castle of Illusion gracing the PSN/XBLA this past summer, it seemed only fitting to revisit its sequel, World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, for Genesis Month. Though it featured far superior graphics and an expanded scope, along with the addition of Donald Duck and cooperative play, World of Illusion has, for whatever reason, struggled to retain the same classic status as its predecessor.

And that’s unfortunate, because World of Illusion is an incredibly capable sequel to Mickey Mouse’s first Genesis adventure; one that sends its title characters into an enchanting world and builds upon the magic of Castle of Illusion to deliver an entirely satisfying follow-up.

The game begins with Mickey and Donald as they prepare for a magic show, unaware that the magic box they’ve stumbled across would transport them into another world, one from which they must escape. It’s a setup that’s certainly simple enough, but it allows for a strong amount of level variety that wasn’t present even in Mizrabel’s castle in the previous game. Thematically, visually, and musically, World of Illusion has a decidedly lighter and more whimsical touch than Castle did, with the magic box concept allowing for an Alice in Wonderland-like scenario of being trapped in a strange magical world. Its levels, which include journeys through the sky on a magic carpet and through the galaxy on a champagne cork, along with candy-themed worlds and underwater castles, are filled with surprises, and it’s sometimes tough to tell when one ends and another begins.

World of Illusion has a decidedly lighter and more whimsical touch than Castle did.

Unlike in the previous game, which was essentially a solo adventure, World of Illusion allows you to select from Mickey or Donald at the start; both if you have someone else to play with. Their gameplay is more or less the same across either story, though there are small areas where one character is required to take a different path.

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World of Illusion could have used a little more variety to set the two characters’ stories apart. Of the two, Mickey’s adventure has the more memorable moments, with Donald’s seeing some of them replaced by less inspired bits like a maze section. But both Mickey and Donald prove fun to play as, and then there’s co-op, which is different still, and probably the ideal way to play the game, with the addition of new areas, cooperative sections, and the characters’ ability to reach new heights by jumping on each other’s shoulders.

And then there’s co-op, which is different still, and probably the ideal way to play the game

World of Illusion is a sidescroller like Castle of Illusion was but with a key difference; instead of jumping on the enemies’ heads, as Castle did, the characters this time around have magic capes, which they use to attack the baddies and turn them into harmless versions of themselves. The capes help spice things up a bit, as hopping on the heads of enemies has always been a fairly common theme in platformers.

The capes help spice things up a bit, as hopping on the heads of enemies has always been a fairly common theme in platformers.

It makes sense, as there’s something so instantly gratifying about jumping on an enemy’s head, and at first World of Illusion‘s method of attack doesn’t feel as satisfying. But it grew on me and I quickly got past the change in gameplay.

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What’s a little harder to forgive is World of Illusion‘s easy difficulty. With the game allowing you unlimited continues, and providing you with a Password should you need to end your session and pick it back up later, it’s unfortunate then that the developers didn’t feel the need to up the challenge slightly, as it definitely falls behind Castle of Illusion in this regard. The final boss, especially, is a major let down, and the fight against him isn’t even as challenging as some of the earlier bosses that World of Illusion threw at you.

It’s unfortunate then that the developers didn’t feel the need to up the challenge slightly, as it definitely falls behind Castle of Illusion in this regard.

The game, too, lacks a strong villain. The iconic Mickey Mouse baddie is certainly present in small ways throughout, but he never gets the opportunity to really leave an impression or to serve as anything but a “final boss” at the end of the game.

World of Illusion was a great example of a well done sequel, in that it took the basic idea of the original (a Mickey Mouse sidescroller) and built upon it while bringing it into a fresh new world. The two playable characters and co-op play were great additions, and the graphics received a beautiful facelift from what Castle of Illusion brought to the table two years prior. The game may be too easy, and Mickey and Donald’s respective adventures could have stood to be a bit more different. But World of Illusion comes highly recommended to those who like these characters or who liked Castle of Illusion. Here’s hoping this one too receives the remake treatment one of these days.

Positive:

  • Gorgeous graphics
  • An imaginative world with plenty of level variety
  • Co-op play and two character setup were great additions
  • Fun soundtrack

Negative:

  • Game’s too easy
  • Final boss is incredibly disappointing
  • The 3 campaigns could have featured more differences
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“A great Mickey Mouse game and my personal favorite in the Illusion series.”

3 responses to “Retro Review: World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck

  1. Bartman3010 says:

    One of my favorite platformers to play as a kid, definitely want to play the game with a friend all the way through just to check out the 2 Player-only levels.

  2. Ben says:

    It’s not as much that they had their own levels, but they had small sections added to existing levels that took advantage of the co-op thing.

    But yeah, it was a fun addition to the game.

  3. Dew says:

    Brilliant dont make them like this anymore. modern games are crap in comparison

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