Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse (Sniper)
Genre: 2d platformer
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega

Where the Mega Drive original had fluidly animated, sumptuous tapestries of rich color and detail, this Game Gear adaptation goes for a more blocky, 8-bit Alex Kidd look. The small character and enemy sprites are charming and well-animated, moving across the pleasantly varied assortment of stages.

Half of this game's songs were lifted from the original game and reprogrammed for the Game Gear. The tunes naturally lend themselves to the system's plinky PSG audio. The other half of the tunes are original compositions; they are not quite as memorable, but give the game a sort of atmospheric melancholy.

Like the original title, in this adaptation Mickey can butt-bounce off of enemies-- although in this case, the action is accomplished by a second press of the jump button. But in a sharp departure, Mickey can also pick up items-- mushrooms, screws, rocks-- and either throw them at enemies, or use them to solve minor puzzles which are present in many of the stages.

How does one downsize a game for a small screen and weaker hardware, yet positively differentiate it from its big brother? Easy: make it more of a slow-paced, "thinking man's" endeavor! Sega did this very successfully with both Shinobi Game Gear titles, and it accomplishes it here as well, with this adaptation's often non-linear, treasure chest-filled levels and puzzle-lite gameplay.

Sniper's verdict: