Legend of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Developer:
    • Aspect
  • Publishers:
    • Sega
    • Brazil Tec Toy
  • Released:
    GG
    • JP 01/13/1995
    • US January 1995
    • UK February 1995
    SMS
    • Brazil December 1998
Score: 80%

This review was published on 04/19/2017.

Legend of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse is a side-scrolling platform video game developed by Aspect for the Game Gear and Sega Master System. The Game Gear version was originally published by Sega in Japan on January 13, 1995, North America in January 1995, and Europe in February 1995. Tec Toy later published the Master System version of the game in Brazil in December 1998. Both versions of the game are mostly the same, though the Game Gear release has a lower resolution due to the handheld's small screen. This is the fourth and final game in the Illusion series. It all started with the release of Castle of Illusion in 1990 and 1991 on the Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear. Then there was Land of Illusion, which came out on the Master System and Game Gear in 1992 and 1993, respectively. After that, World of Illusion was released on the Genesis in 1992. Despite being part of the same series, there are no real story connections between any of the games. One thing they all do have in common, however, is that they're all good. Legend of Illusion isn't as good as some of the previous games in the series, but it's still decent.

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Long ago, there was a kingdom in a faraway place, and it was ruled by the selfish King Pete. One day, a dark shadow crept across the land, withering crops and generally making the people very unhappy. King Pete's advisor informed him that the only way to solve the kingdom's crisis was for a king to go out on a journey to locate the legendary Water of Life. Pete exclaimed that he couldn't possibly undertake such a task, trying to hide his fear as he paced nervously around the room. Just then, Mickey, who is a lowly laundry boy in this game, entered the room. Wasting little time, Pete took this opportunity to make Mickey an honorary king, and told him to go find a cure for the kingdom. Mickey protested this idea, but Pete gave him his crown and quickly left the room. With no other choice left to him, Mickey took on the task of saving the kingdom.

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Once again, you control Disney's main mascot, Mickey Mouse. The controls are similar to Castle of Illusion and Land of Illusion on the Master System and Game Gear: you use the d-pad to make Mickey walk around, duck, and climb stuff, and the 2 button will get him to jump. In the previous games, Mickey couldn't harm enemies with his regular jumps, but he could with a butt bounce attack. However, Mickey can no longer do such a crude maneuver in this game. Instead, you press the 1 button to make him throw bars of soap, which will cleanly defeat most normal enemies. Mickey has an unlimited supply of these, so you can go crazy with them. Due to always having access to a ranged attack, this game is a bit easier than the previous ones. Additionally, the projectile based game play makes this game feel a little closer to Mega Man. It's a neat attack, but not being able to jump onto enemies is kind of a bummer.

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That's not all Mickey can do: his ability to lift and throw certain objects, usually blocks, returns from the last two games. This ability works exactly as it did in those games, requiring that you make Mickey move towards a block and then press the 1 button to pick it up. Mickey can walk and jump around while holding objects, but he'll drop them if he's injured. While holding an object, you can drop it by pressing the 1 button when Mickey is standing still, or throw it by pressing the same button when he's moving. Thrown objects will damage enemies on contact, and this can injure certain foes that are impervious to Mickey's soap bars. One thing Mickey can do in this game that he couldn't do in the previous ones is grab blocks whilst jumping. This makes grabbing stuff more flexible, so it's an appreciable convenience. Another new thing Mickey can do in this game is pull or push certain blocks. This is usually done to extend a platform for Mickey to stand on so that he can reach higher areas. It gets used in a myriad of other ways, too, furthering the game's depth.

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As with the previous games, Mickey will frequently encounter treasure chests all throughout his adventure. These chests contain all kinds of stuff. Some of this stuff simply gives you points, like diamonds and golden chalices. Some, however, will grant Mickey extra lives. Then there are the items that replenish varying amounts of Mickey's health, like cookies, donuts, and cakes. A new feature this game brings to the table that the previous games lacked is the ability to carry additional items in reserve. If Mickey touches a restorative item when he's already at full health, it'll get stored in one of the empty box icons at the bottom of the screen. After that, if Mickey loses all his health, the items in reserve will automatically be used to heal him up. This may seem a little unnecessary early on, but Mickey's maximum health automatically increases at certain points during the game, so he'll need more ways to recover himself later on. It's a smart system that prevents recovery items from going to waste, though you do lose everything that's in reserve upon completing a stage.

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With the exception of a particular point later in the game, most stages are done in a linear order. There's still a map screen like in Land of Illusion, but it's mostly there for show, as you can't pick stages outside the aforementioned exception. Stages look and play rather well. The opening stage is particularly eye catching for an 8-bit title, as it's a town set in the very early morning, but then the mist clears away and the colors slowly change to reflect the sun rising. Some of the enemies are also pretty creative, like the cats in the first stage that walk across the roofs of buildings, dropping any pots they walk into. These pots then become a danger to Mickey, as they'll injure him if they land on his head. Then there's a forest stage with snakes that have their heads encased in bubbles while they use their tails as makeshift propellers to float around. It's totally adorable.

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Something else Mickey can do in this game that he couldn't before is hang off some horizontal ropes or vines. To do this, you must jump towards the horizontal rope-like object while holding up on the d-pad. At that point, Mickey can climb hand over hand to the left or right if you press those directions on the d-pad. To drop off, you simply press the jump button, but if you want to jump off it, you'll have to hold up while pressing jump. The game's stage design benefits from this ability, as it adds variety. Speaking of variety, some stages are a little less straightforward, often featuring some minor puzzle solving. For instance, one stage has magnetic blocks that attract each other, and another one has you reflecting light with crystallized blocks to reveal platforms. There's also a sunken ruins stage Mickey has to swim through. Like the previous games, Mickey still has limited oxygen while swimming, so he must pop his head out of the water every so often to get some fresh air. One stage even has Mickey ride a giant dragonfly in the style of a shoot 'em up. If that's not awesome, then I don't know what is.

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By 1995 and especially 1998, the Game Gear and Master System were either dead or in the process of dying in most parts of the world. That didn't stop those platforms from getting a couple more good games, though, and Legend of Illusion is one of them. The graphics, animations, and music are all quite good for an 8-bit system, and the stage design is perfectly solid. It may not be as good or long as Land of Illusion, but Legend of Illusion is still one of the best games on the Game Gear and Master System.

Word Count: 1,379

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