Now I’m not one to usually play AND promote Disney games but, you know what? When Disney games are good, they are sublimely good.
Take Aladdin on the Genesis for example: I played that game so much, the movie almost seemed lame in comparison after a while. And I loved the movie! Very rarely have I played a game based on an animated feature and felt it captured what made the source material great but Aladdin was spot-on.
I’ll get to that one another time, though.
In the meantime: let’s talk Mickey Mania: The Timeless Adventures Of Mickey Mouse.
Released back in 1994, this was a game I had no expectations for, I just bought it because… hell, I had a couple of old, weirdly disturbing Mickey cartoons on VHS (including that terrifying one where he hallucinates and goes on a bad trip while gardening) which I used to watch religiously, so why not go for a more interactive Mickey experience?
Then I played the game…
… and it blew me away.
I learned later that there are quite a few Mickey games around and some of them are actually pretty good but at the time I had no idea and Mickey Mania, as far as I knew, was the one and only badass Mickey game around so I made the most of it. The concept was genius: you play as Mickey and time-travel through some of his most iconic shorts as you recreate some of his actions from the old cartoons to move on to the next one and finally find your way out of the game and out of this Back To The Future II-style paradox!
You start the game playing through Steamboat Willie which, in what is actually a nice visual touch, is all in black and white. As you move forward further into the level, colour finally fades into the game little by little. You’ll notice straight away that the animation on the characters and everything else is really fluid and altogether pretty impressive. Some of the other Mickey games were good but lacked stand-out visuals, something which Mickey Mania effortlessly delivers.
The game is short but sweet: it’s pretty easy at first but soon becomes relentless and challenging. You’re never bored one second. Yes, Steamboat Willie is an easy one but it does well to ease you into the spirit of things. Besides, jumping on that cat, which then bursts through the ground, is probably one of the most satisfying things you could ever do.
The second level is already much harder. You’re in this horror movie setting, some old haunted castle where skeletons are exploding all over the place and bats annoy the hell out of you (they’re actually a pain to kill sometimes). Avoiding those skeletons’ bones when they explode is also a bit of a chore, frankly. No matter how well you think you’ve hidden, every so often one measly bone will find its way through a table and hit you right in the face. There’s all sorts of tricky characters to fight and things to avoid, the most challenging of which is probably the fire coming out of those chimneys. Hate that stuff, I can never NOT get hit when I cross those chimneys. Also, there’s see-saws you need to avoid while you’re jumping on a moving platform and at one point you’re meant to run down a crazy-messed-up stairway outside a 3D dungeon while barrels and all sorts of enemies block your way.
Whatever happened to the innocence of that first level?!
Suddenly, two levels in and I’m in hell!
It’s still tons of fun, though. It ends with you fighting the Mad Doctor who was, apparently, working on the weirdest experiment ever…
The Canine Ducktipede!
You find Pluto and you’re on your way to the next level which mostly involves avoiding falling objects and charging moose (yes, the plural for “moose” is “moose”). There’s a cool 3D mini-stage where Mickey runs towards you, away from an angry moose as various obstacles block his path. The game does really well to mix things up with stuff like this so if you get bored playing side-scrollers (which, if you are: for shame!) don’t worry.
The Lonesome Ghosts level is my favourite. It’s about as sinister as the second level and just as hard but it has the best music and the best variety in terms of how the level progresses. First you’re on a raft with Pluto floating over water, then you’re avoiding ghosts in the dark, then you’re walking on barrels trying to get out of a flooded room. There’s a lot of problem-solving involved in this one, actually, so stay sharp.
Oh, by the way, why would a mouse own a dog?
Now THAT’s ridiculous.
Then it’s Mickey And The Beanstalk time and things get more surreal than ever: you’re pushing giant apples around, fighting butterflies. It’s probably the most colourful level until you get underground where, if you play your cards right and molest the right bug, you can time warp to a secret level which is actually pretty scary since it involves you jumping on flying boxes inside a tornado.
What kind of reward is that?! It’s like if in Super Mario Bros. 3 you found a secret pipe which led you straight to that final boat full of cannonballs and guns!
Thanks for that, game.
The level ends with you walking on a table where everything’s giant and… finding yourself once again (the old you, that is). Man, that place has a serious pest control problem. I’m not even kidding. Those giants need help. And a talking, red-shorts-wearing MOUSE doesn’t help. Let alone two of them!
The game ends on The Prince And The Pauper, a level which has you swinging on chandeliers, jumping over magic floating books, getting shot at with crossbows and fighting this guy:
Who I’m hoping is groping his belly and not something else.
Overall: Mickey Mania is a must if you’re a fan of these old Disney animated shorts but also if you happen to own a Sega Genesis and feel like playing a visually fab, well designed, entertaining little game with great music, cool sound effects, smooth animation and a time-travel scenario! The game was the first that David Jaffe (responsible for the Twisted Metal franchise) worked on and it holds up really well to this day. You can find it on Playstation and Super NES also but, for me, you can’t beat the Genesis version. But that might just be the nostalgia talkin’…
Check it out ;)