Sega’s magical platformer was, to me, was the creative highpoint of the Capcom / Disney run of console video games, and absolutely the most playable.
I just always thought this game was so effortlessly charming, and that sprite of Mickey jumping is one of my favourite sprites in gaming.
The MegaDrive version was a real eye opener – for the first time there was a game based on a cartoon that actually looked kinda like a cartoon if you squint a bit and don’t notice you never see a close up! Wow! It’s weird to compare this to something like Earthworm Jim, Aladdin or The Lion King which came a few years later but totally transformed perceptions on how important animation quality was in a game like this. Even Quackshot had more cartoony visuals but to me the art design in Castle of Illusion can’t be matched.
The Master System version, though – oh man, that was my jam. I devoured every last byte of that thing – it’s like a mix between the platforming of Mega Man and the picking up / throwing object gameplay of Duck Tales and I just loved it to little bits. There were so many secrets to find that I spent months on it and even made a giant paper map charting it all – to be sent to the great Mean Machines magazine, but by the time I got around to it they had pretty much stopped caring about Master System games. Alas!
About a year ago there was a remake of this for modern systems. Some of my friends worked really, really hard on it. Then Sega fired the lot of them and closed down the studio the minute it was finished. YAY, MODERN GAME INDUSTRY!