In their hearts, everyone is a Disney fan. Whether you can sing along with all the songs in Aladdin, cried at the end of Toy Story 3 or just love Mickey, Donald, Goofy & co’s cameos in Kingdom Hearts, the magical kingdom has a hold on all of us. For me, it’s always been the classic cartoons and, with the appropriate level of nostalgia, I recently settled down to revisit an old friend thanks to the PSN re-release of Mickey’s Wild Adventure.
A 2D platformer from two generations and over a decade ago, Mickey’s Wild Adventure was more than a movie tie-in or quick attempt to generate quick cash by exploiting a franchise (hear that, Mario?). Disney made the effort to remind us all of the rich history behind the world’s most recognizable anthropomorphic mouse and turn it into something fun. Guiding Mickey through his best-loved adventures, you traverse worlds including his Steamboat Willie debut, the infamous broomstick scene from Fantasia and other moments from the episodes that anyone who spent their childhood devouring cartoons will remember.
The first impression that this PSN revival provides is very strong. The PS1 (even at the time, the superior version over Sega & Nintendo’s console offerings) was capable of producing vivid colour palettes and smooth animation. Combined with the drastically shortened load-times, it’s a very slick experience booting up the game and first gazing upon it.
Unfortunately, this is about where the rose-tinted remembrance falls away. At the time, Mickey’s Wild Adventure was a great experience for gamers. However, where once the average gamer age was teens and under, we’re largely a more mature bunch now and Mickey’s simple mechanics (you run and jump through levels, occasionally throwing marbles at foes – that’s it really) feel dated and crude. Even compared to recent youngster-targeted titles such as Skylanders or Rayman Origins, there’s little challenge to be found from Mickey’s linear, short, uncomplicated levels. The controls are impressively tight (go back and play any other old game and you’ll almost be guaranteed to find yourself in a floaty-handling hell) but glitch surfaces and a lack of any real challenge just makes it more a more bland experience.
There are still some redeeming qualities, however. This is one of the earliest titles to demonstrate real care and attention in its voiceover acting. The environmental sounds, music and Mickey’s own voice are wonderfully authentic, rekindling that old Disney charm. Mickey reacts to what’s going on in the game as well, which adds some variety to the admittedly repetitive cries of “ouch!” and “uh oh!’ when things go wrong.
Remembering how much I enjoyed Mickey’s Wild Adventure back when it was first released, it’s a little bit painful to say that I can’t really recommend it today. For all of its retained appeal and its ability to hark back to a period of gaming development that’s long gone today, the game simply isn’t up to the standard of comparable current-generation titles. Its simplistic gameplay and pretty-yet-dated looks mean that, other than providing a history lesson for Disney-loving gamers looking to introduce Walt’s early creations to their young families, Mickey simply doesn’t have much to offer today.
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