Monday, August 6, 2012

Blasts from the Past: Mickey Mania

A fun, but slightly painful romp through Mickey's greatest cartoons.

As a kid growing up in the 90s, Disney was a major part of my life; not only was the Disney Renaissance occuring in the movie theaters at this time, but we also had the Disney Channel which featured great shows like Darkwing Duck and Ducktales, and of course we had many games based on Disney's characters and movies. This was also a time when gamers weren't as jaded from legions of horrible movie and license cash-ins, because several of these titles were actually quite good. In fact some of my fondest memories as child come from playing these Disney games, and while I didn't actually own this particular one as a child it is definitely one that I had a blast playing.

Basically Mickey is re-living several of his most famous animated adventures spanning his 80+ year tenure as a popular cartoon character. While there is no real story it is sheer bliss for any fan of Disney animation (like myself) to travel through iconic cartoons such as Steamboat Willie (Mickey's first appearance), The Lonesome Ghosts, and even the Disney version of The Prince and the Pauper.

Art Direction
Visually this game is gorgeous! The backgrounds and characters look simply amazing for a 16 bit title, it feels like it is a Disney animated cartoon as opposed to just a video game. The designers also included a great amount of detail in the backgrounds such as the various animals from Steam Boat Willie, the different Mickeys you encounter in each stage, and various other touches directly from the cartoons. This game also has a great variety of levels based on Mickey's cartoons, we have the iconic black and white port of Steamboat Willie, the dreary mansion from The Lonesome Ghosts, the brightly colorful fields from Mickey and the Beanstalk, and many more.

 We also get a few voice clips from the late third voice of Mickey, Wayne Allwine himself, but they are limited to a few short phrases like "ow" or "uh oh". The soundtrack of the game is really well done although they did miss the opportunity to bring pieces from the actual cartoons into the game as well, but they still are memorable and match their locations well.


Mickey Mania is a platformer in the same vein as games like Mario in that you must get from point A to point B with a few secret caches and rooms along the way. Mickey can walk, jump, duck, and throw marbles to defeat enemies. Sounds simple right...WRONG! After the first stage (Steamboat Willie) this game ditches the training wheels and throws everything it can at you; from legions of bats, to rampaging moose, to instant-death burning staircases this game is MERCILESS with each stage getting progressively harder than it's predacessor. While this is to be expected by SNES veterans, children and parents at the time were certainly decieved by this seemingly kid-friendly game, when the difficulty says otherwise.

The game does nicely have a fair amount of health stars to restore one of your five hit points, however lives are incredibly rare and often you must risk a life to obtain it. It also gladly gives you plenty of marbles to pick up and throw at enemies and will even start you off with ten if you die, the game is also fairly merciful with checkpoints often restarting you exactly where you died on lower difficulties. You can adjust the difficulty, as well as how many lives you start off with, giving less experienced gamers more of a chance to make it through the game.

Now here is the dilemma, this game is actually on both the Super Nintendo, and the Sega Genesis. I have played both, but this review was compiled based on my experience with the SNES version. I rarely ever say this, but the Genesis version is actually the superior version for many reasons. While the Genesis version still features sound effects similar to electronic flatulence the SNES version is actually MISSING a few level segments, sound clips, animations and even an entire level (a bonus level though), also it has one thing that every gamer hates...LOADING TIMES! The game has to load EVERYTIME YOU GO TO ANOTHER SCREEN; its not too long, but it still disrupts the flow of the game.

I love this game, despite struggling greatly with it as a child, its fun, the animation and backgrounds are great, and it holds up really well today. Also here's a fun fact for you, this was actually God Of War director, David Jaffe's first project...wrap your head around that one. Its not too difficult to find, but I definitely recommend the Genesis version over the SNES sheerly because the game is more complete on the Genesis than on the SNES.

Since this review is based on the SNES version I have to give it a lower score than I'd like to.

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