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Video Game / Castle of Illusion

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Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a platformer developed by Sega in 1990 for the Sega Genesis and Sega Master System.

The game takes place within the eponymous Castle of Illusion. Mickey must take it upon himself to rescue Minnie Mouse from the clutches of Mizrabel the witch, who has kidnapped her in order to steal her youth and beauty. The player must battle through five stages and confront each stage's boss to collect the Seven Gems of the Rainbow. Only with these gems can he then build a rainbow bridge leading to the castle tower to face the evil witch in a final battle.

Cue classic side-scrolling and all the glory of 16-bit graphics and sound. The 8-bit version, released for both the Sega Master System and Game Gear, keeps the fundamentals of its 16-bit big brother, while altering the level design and mechanics to fit better with the less powerful hardware.

In 1992, it went and had two sequels: Land of Illusion and World of Illusion. A few years later, an additional sequel was released known as Legend of Illusion. 2012 saw a Nintendo 3DS companion game to Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two going under the name Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, officially billed as both a fourth, direct sequel and an Epic Mickey game, in which the Castle of Illusion has been transported to the Wasteland and Mizrabel seeks to escape from it by draining the essence of popular Disney characters. In 2022, Disney announced Disney Illusion Island, a 2D platformer starring Mickey and friends in the vein of previous Illusion titles. The game was released on the Nintendo Switch July 28, 2023.

In the wake of this release, Sega made an HD remake of the original game and was released on the PlayStation 3 on September 3, 2013, while the Steam and Xbox 360 versions were released the following day. The game was delisted from these storefronts on September 2, 2016, due to Sega's contract expiring; it eventually resurfaced in April of 2017. The original version of the game and World of Illusion were both included as a part of the Sega Genesis Mini in 2019.

This game provides examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo: The Genesis game gives you apples, marbles, and candles to throw at your foes. The remake limits these to the Enchanted Forest, Toyland and the Castle respectively, while adding golden orbs and sweets to the Storm and Library levels.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Downplayed in the remake. It is largely very faithful to the original game's structure and there isn't much in the way of new content, but thanks to being a 2˝D platformer, it has more elaborate setpieces and bosses compared to the original game (several of which are in full 3D, including the main hub) and the Excuse Plot is given some extra meat by having a narrator narrating through the game and give context to things that were left unexplained in the original game. There are also unlockable statues that expand on the bosses' personalities and/or why they hold one of the Rainbow Gems.
  • All There in the Manual: In the remake, collecting each of the two statue pieces per world unlocks a statue of the world's boss, along with a bio explaining their personality and/or why they have one of the Rainbow Gems in their possession.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The remake features three unlockable costumes for Mickey to wear. The costumes are an explorer's outfit that is unlocked by finding all the chili peppers, a magician's outfit unlocked by finding all the playing cards, and a knight's suit of armor that is unlocked by defeating Mizrabel.
  • Anthropomorphic Shift: In the original, Mizrabel's true form is a mouse person like Mickey and Minnie. The remake has her as a human.
  • Asteroids Monster: The letter A's from the Master System version split into three smaller versions when attacked.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: The Master System version has two: the first section of the cakes and sweets level, and the second section of Mizrabel's castle. The latter even features a moment where Mickey must let the auto-scrolling catch up with him to push him through a narrow passageway.
  • Backtracking: In one of the sections in the Toyland level in the Genesis version, the door to exit is at the beginning of the level, but you need to climb all the way to the top to find the key. Thankfully, you don't need to retrace the level; when you pick up the key, the platforms turn into ramps and you slide down all the way back to the exit.
  • Big Fancy Castle: The hub of this game takes place inside the titular Castle of Illusion. Each door Mickey enters leads to a new level, and in the Genesis version, the final battle against Mizrabel takes place in the castle's turret. In the Master System version, the final level takes place inside the heart of the castle, where Mickey must go through several platforming segments before facing off against a dragon and Mizrabel herself.
  • Boss-Only Level: The third stage of each level in the remake.
  • Bottomless Pits: A standard hazard.
  • Broken Bridge: In the remake, you won't be allowed to enter each level until you have collected enough diamonds.
  • Calling Your Attacks: The Mizrabel battle in the remake.
  • The Cameo: In the remake, Pluto, Huey, Dewey, Louie, Goofy, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Chip, Dale and Pete can be seen watching the events of the game as a movie alongside Mickey and Minnie, most likely intended as a nod to the post-credits scene of the Genesis version. Chip is even wearing his Rescue Rangers hat.
  • Cheated Angle: In the HD remake, you can actually see Mickey's ears moving in impossible ways, purely for the sake of keeping that iconic look of his head known from animated shorts and comics.
  • Clock Tower: The fifth level of the Master System game, part of the fifth level in the Genesis version and also a level in the HD remake.
  • Damsel in Distress: The main objective of the game is to rescue Minnie Mouse.
  • Darker and Edgier: While not completely dark, the remake has a more ominous feel to it and many of the enemies and bosses are redesigned so that they look less cartoonish.
  • Defeat Equals Explosion: This happens to each of the bosses upon their defeat in the Genesis version but is subsequently averted in the remake.
  • Defeat Means Friendship:
    • In the Genesis version, when Mickey ends up defeating the evil witch and preventing her from stealing Minnie's youth, she actually takes them both back home. On her broom. Whilst they snuggle up on a bench swing.
    • The remake has Mizrabel give Mickey and Minnie their own brooms to escape the falling castle, and it also adds a reason as to why Defeat Means Friendship: it turns out it's a case of Know When to Fold 'Em. Mizrabel, as the narrator explains, had the wisdom to know when she was defeated, and also to know the reason why that was so, and it's because she recognized that Mickey and Minnie had a magic even greater than her own: The Power of Love.
  • Easier Than Easy: The easiest difficulty level, aptly named "Practice", is essentially a heavily abridged version of the full game. Large sections of each level are omitted, and also...
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: The game ends at the 3rd level. However, this is a subversion, as the ending is somewhat more hopeful: Mizrabel has a change of heart and agrees to free Minnie in exchange for just three gems, then does so without any insults at all. The text telling you to try Normal mode is also more encouraging than insulting.
  • Expy:
    • The evil witch's character model is based on Queen Grimhilde from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (better known as simply "the Evil Queen")—both in her "hag" guise when she's old, and in her normal incarnation when she's becoming younger in the final battle. The remake takes it further by having her say she wants to be the fairest one of all.
    • The Oaf, the boss of level 5, is a recolored version of Willie the Giant.
  • Follow the Money: Diamonds in the Genesis version. The remake adds more to their worth as collecting enough will unlock later levels and also unlock concept art.
  • Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Minnie, in the remake, wears a red shirt.
  • Goomba Springboard: Mickey can use Goomba Stomps to jump higher, if he needs to do so.
  • Goomba Stomp: Unlike most games that feature this, Castle of Illusion requires an additional button press in mid-jump in order to stomp enemies, making it more like a Ground Pound than usual. The HD remake doesn't require the extra button press.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Mizrabel is envious of Minnie's beauty and popularity.
  • Guide Dang It!: The intro in the original has Mickey making quick work of three guards by jumping on them. Then when you try it yourself, Mickey gets hurt because you need to press the jump button again to take out an enemy.
  • Heart Container: Present in the Master System version, although as stars rather than hearts. Mickey starts out with three stars' worth of health, but can pick up extra ones in Toyland and the Clock Tower.
  • Hub Level: Mizrabel's Castle of Illusion is this once you finish the introduction level.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin: When playing on easy mode, the game ends after the third level when Mickey hands over the collected gems to Mizrabel in exchange for Minnie's release.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Cake in the Master System version. A slice of cake heals one star's worth of damage, a whole cake heals two stars.
  • Ledge Bats: In the Storm level of the Genesis game. The bats have a tendency to jump out at you right as you're crossing a gap.
  • Level Ate: The third level of the Master System game, which replaces the Storm in that version, is entirely make of cakes, chocolate, and other confectionery, with a giant chocolate bar as a boss. The "milk bottle" section of the Library of the Genesis game is likewise made of assorted sweet foods, the level's boss, the Treat Dragon being designed to look like it were made of red licorice.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: A strange example of this. Once the final boss is defeated, the castle begins to fall apart, likely as a result of the battle, considering she's still alive and in fact has to flee alongside the heroes.
  • The Lost Woods: The first level of both games is a grassy woodland. In the Genesis game, it phases from Green Hill Zone through deeper and darker (and, in some places, spider-filled) woods to a haunted forest toward the end.
  • Lucky Seven: Seven gems, seven bosses (six in the Genesis version).
  • Macro Zone: A giant study or library forms part of the fourth level of the Genesis game and the entirety of the fourth level of the Master System game.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the remake, Chip and Dale are dressed in their Rescue Rangers attire.
    • In level 5 of the remake, the narrator brings up Mickey's past experience in cleaning clocks.
    • The giant apple chase segment in the level 1 remake is a homage to the chase segments in Mickey Mania.
    • A milk bottlecap in level 4 of the remake has Mickey in his 1930's design.
  • One-Winged Angel: During the final battle with Mizrabel in both the Genesis version and the HD remake, Mizrabel uses Minnie's youth and beauty to transform herself from an ugly old witch to a beautiful young woman. This is actually an inversion of Queen Grimhilde's "perfect disguise" in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which makes sense since Mizrabel's character model is based on that of the Queen's.
  • Never Say "Die": Lives are referred to as "tries".
  • Palette Swap: The Oaf boss is a recolored Willie the Giant.
  • The Power of Love: Is what leads to Mizrabel's Heel–Face Turn.
  • Pre-Final Boss: In the Master System version, Mickey has to fight a dragon before facing off against Mizrabel herself.
  • Preorder Bonus: Playstation 3 owners who preordered the HD remake between August 20th and September 3rd received three avatars, a dynamic theme and the original Genesis/Mega Drive version of the game.
  • Punny Name: Mizrabel. Because she's Miserable.
  • Quicksand Sucks: In the Cakeland portion of the Library level. Okay, it's more like Quick-Jelly, but it definitely Sucks.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Mizrabel in the remake has her dialogue in the final battle consist of rhymes, even when she is transformed into her beautiful form.
  • Shout-Out: Two of the collectibles of the remake are "Donald's chili peppers" and "magic playing cards". And in case you thought it was a coincidence, the trophies/achievements you get for collecting them all are the names of these two games!
  • Spring Jump: The second level has springboards for you to jump on.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: In the stages where you can swim, you never run out of air.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: The witch Mizrabel is an obvious stand-in for the Evil Queen / Witch from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
  • Tactical Suicide Boss: You can't jump high enough to stomp the second stage boss. Don't worry, he'll start releasing helpful springs for no real other reason than chivalry. You can also cheese him by hiding in a corner.
  • Toy Time: The second level of both games is themed around toys, with toy soldiers marching about. The boss of which is a Jack-in-a-Box.
  • Under the Sea: The third level of the Genesis game, which transitions from a lake with islands to flooded ruins.
  • Underwater Boss Battle: The remake's version of the boss fight against the Merpeople has segments where Mickey has to swim around for a while until the water drains out so he could deal damage to them.
  • The Unfought: Shadow Mickey, who's exclusive to the remake. You spend the entire second act of level 4 chasing him to retrieve the green gem, but instead of actually fighting him, he's brained in the head by a giant spoon as you escape into a giant teacup. You then have to escape the teacup, but after you do that, Mickey simply retrieves the green gem from the dazed Shadow Mickey.
  • Unlockable Content: The remake features some. Aside from the aforementioned costumes, you are also able to unlock concept art for every diamond you collect that isn't used to gain access to the levels and you can find a statue piece in the first two stages of each level to unlock statues of the bosses.
  • When Trees Attack: The first stage boss in the Genesis version is a living log that jumps out of the tree it's resting in and rolls towards you. What? It Makes Sense in Context... sort of. The Master System version just has a tree as the first boss. The remake adds an explanation, sort of. The narrator refers to this boss as the "grumpy old oak"; so apparently it was attacking Mickey either just because it was a grouch, or because Mickey woke it up or something.
  • You Are Too Late: In both the Genesis and HD versions, just as Mickey finally arrives at the final room to save Minnie, Mizrabel completes the first part of the spell and makes herself look much younger. Fortunately, Mickey manages to beat Mizrabel before the last part of the spell (turning Minnie into an old crone) is complete, so Mickey is able to foil Mizrabel's plan anyway.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Castle Of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse


The Library - Act 1

The second half of the Library level consists of a world full of sweet treats, such as a sea of milk, macaron platforms, quicksand jelly and gummy bear dolphins.

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Example of:

Main / LevelAte

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