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Castle of Illusion: What Did Critics Say Back in 1991?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on July 14, 2014   |   Episode 68 (Show Archive)  


Castle of Illusion (Sega Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Castle of Illusion was not only Mickey Mouse's first foray onto the Genesis, it was the Disney icon's first time in 16-bit. With all eyes on Sega, the developers created one of the best looking games of its time. Did critics fall in love with the look and feel of Castle of Illusion, or did they write it off like Mickey Mousecapade? We dig through old issues of GamePro, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Sega Pro, Video Games & Computer Entertainment, Raze and more for the answers.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
[ Company: Sega | Console: Genesis ]

10 out of 10

"Castle of Illusion is, quite plainly, one of the most fabulous run-and-jump games ever created. The game play is derivative of the Mario series, but with plenty of imaginative twists and attention to detail that elevates the game to an entirely new level. It's terrific that a classic character as well-loved as Mickey should be worked into a game that deserves classic status itself. Castle of Illusion is recommended for everybody without exception." -J.M.

96% out of 100%

"Flippin' hell! When Mickey Mouse first arrived in the office, everyone was mightily impressed with the quality of the graphics. Mickey himself is a visual masterpiece with amazing Disney-style animation and the cute sprites and wonderful backdrops just can't be faulted at all! With its massive variety of levels and secret rooms, Mickey Mouse ranks as the greatest platform game available for the Sega." -Richard Leadbetter

95% out of 100%

"Guide Mickey through the Castle of Illusion in search of Minnie. The first classic Mega Drive game, and still the best. Superb graphics and sound, and dangerously addictive. The later levels just get better and better, leading the player deeper and deeper into amazing world of Disney, if ever there was a game that every Mega Drive owner should have, then this is it."

93% out of 100%

One of the best Megadrive platform games around, combining superlative graphics and excellent gameplay to provide an addictive and thoroughly enjoyable challenge."

92% out of 100%

"Like the storyline, the game is pure Disney. Animation is, of course, the best of the Mega Drive yet. Similarly, the whole presentation of the game is outstanding. It looks like Disney have had a strong say in the look and feel of Castle of Illusion. I bet they gave the programmers hell, but all the sweat and tears have been worth it. Castle of Illusion is undoubtedly the prettiest and most loveable Sega arcade adventure you're likely to play this year."

9 out of 10

"This game is spectacular in terms of its graphics, animation and execution. There are so many frames to Mickey's movements that it actually looks like a cartoon! The visual appeal of the game is high, with great use of color. A little on the easy side, but incredible nonetheless." -Steve

9 out of 10

"Mickey is the game which Disney himself would be proud of. The animation is perfect and the background layering is about the best in a home game. The attention to the little details is apparent and second to none. A great playing game also!" -Martin

89% out of 100%

"This would make Walt Disney jump for joy. The gameplay is set at just the right difficulty, the 'one more go' factor is at its optimum. Detailed graphics, enthralling sound and, of course, Mickey Mouse finish off this superb product. Without a doubt the best available."

GAMEPRO (February 1991)
4 out of 5

"Castle of Illusion is such a feast for the eyes you may want to just hit the Pause button and enjoy the scenery for awhile. Every level features both charm and, in varying degrees, challenge. No detail has been spared -- from the kitschy Disney-style music right down to Mickey's tail-swishing antics. However, what's really tough to take (though it's realistic) is the sound of little Mickey screaming when he falls into a hole or off a cliff." -The Bohemian
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 91% - When it comes to Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse, game critics went strong. It's telling when GamePro's 4 out of 5 is the worst review of the bunch. Most critics loved it, with only two critics (of 13 total reviews) giving the game lower than a 90%.

Video Games & Computer Entertainment gushed that it's "one of the most fabulous run-and-jump games ever created." They weren't alone. Electronic Gaming Monthly noted that "this game is spectacular in terms of its graphics, animation and execution." And even SegaPro called this 1991 classic "the first classic Mega Drive game."

And if that isn't enough gushing, a number of critics suggested Walt Disney himself would be proud of Sega's accomplishment. "This would make Walt Disney jump for joy," suggests Mega Drive Advanced Gaming. Martin at Electronic Gaming Monthly said almost the exact same thing. Raze didn't mention Walt's name, but suggested that the animation studio had a large hand in making this game so good. I'm not sure if that's the case, but I do know that the critics loved Castle of Illusion, giving it an average of 91%.

ORIGINAL VS. REMAKE: More than twenty years after it first hit the Genesis, Sega decided to give Castle of Illusion a long-overdue remake for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. How did it compare to the 1991 original? While some critics loved it (Gaming Age gave it an "A"), most critics were less enthusiastic. According to MetaCritic, scores ranged from 67% on Xbox 360 all the way up to 72% on PlayStation 3. While those scores aren't terrible, they are a far cry from the 91% the original game earned.

ON WEDNESDAY'S EPISODE: The critics sure did love Castle of Illusion, giving it one of the highest averages we've seen yet. But will their love carry over to the 1992 sequel, World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck? Find out on Wednesday when the Review Crew tackles this much-anticipated follow-up. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!




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