REVIEW: Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures of Mickey Mouse

When we are young, we all play licensed games. If you say you never did, you are either a liar or never owned a game system when you were seven years old. Most people have fond memories of the licensed games they played back in the day, like Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers, Ducktales, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There were certainly still shovelware titles (I’ve got Gameboy ports of Jurassic Park and Barbie: Game Girl that are good examples, though still playable), but man, I loved Disney games when I was younger. This and The Lion King for SNES got rented over and over again. I left the SNES at home and recently spotted a Genesis port of this, so I thought I’d test to see how cloudy nostalgia-vision was.

In this case, I was thankfully not disappointed.

This game is structured with six levels, each themed after a particular Mickey Mouse cartoon, and the game goes chronologically through the 20th century. Starting with Steamboat Willy and ending with the then-recent Prince and the Pauper, you control Mickey Mouse through a simple platformer as he navigates through Lonesome Ghosts, Mickey and the Beanstalk, Moose Hunter Mickey, and Mad Doctor’s Lab. The gameplay is simple enough for a child to pick up, with simple jumps, collapsing platforms, stop-and-wait situations, running and dodging, and your trusty pouch of marbles you use as ammunition to fire at enemies. But even on a normal difficulty, you will find yourself swearing and dying a lot as unfair enemies knock your huge hit box around. You also pick up all the marbles you fire, and there are some parts that conserving ammo is key (never boss battles, thankfully).

The first level is the best in the game. Steamboat Willy starts in black and white and turns to color as you make your way through the level, which is one of the niftiest gimmicks ever. The first level is also a really easy and fun introduction to the game, and has a Pete mid-boss. Conversely, the second level, “Mad Doctor,” is the hardest and most unfair. I played through the game several times, and every time most of my lives were spent on the Mad Doctor’s Lab, which is both long and difficult. The difficulty is no worse than other platformers of the time, though.

There are also some nice effects. Genesis doesn’t have the fancy Mode 7 capabilities, but there are still some pretty cool, Castlevania Bloodlines-esque tube scrolling scenes where Mickey conquers towers and runs away from enemies and whatnot. These scenes aren’t that fun to play, but they’re pretty novel all the same.

I know that Genesis ports are generally inferior to SNES versions (thank you, nice boys!), but in the case of this game, apparently the SNES port is the inferior version. It’s missing a bonus stage (one that I somehow failed to access anyway) and the most infuriating part of the Mad Doctor level along with a few other minor things. Even the Genesis version is hampered when compared with the European Mega CD and Playstation releases, which include extra dialogue and extra sequences in some levels. I don’t think any version of the game is 100% complete, though. It sounds like the Mega CD version has a sequence that the Playstation one doesn’t, but PS sounds like the best one. Whatever.

Overall, I don’t like platformers, but I still love this game. It looks great, the sprites are detailed and well-animated, and the entire game is a delight to play. It really is more like playing through a cartoon than anything else I’ve played. Plus, it’s challenging, which is always important.

It’s also the only good game Traveler’s Tales ever made. Well, maybe Bram Stoker’s Dracula is good. I’ve never played it.

Yeah, yeah, IGN. It’s the only pic I could find of the drum scroll effect I mentioned, though.

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