Disney’s forever-positive and forgiving trademark rodent has been around for a staggering 88 years and during that time he has been featured in dozens of videogames ranging from a staring role in Castle of Illusion to a side character with a LOT of importance in the Kingdom Hearts series.
The world was first introduced to the character all the way back in 1928. On Mickey’s 65th birthday, 1993, it was decided that a game would be released alongside Disney’s other anniversary efforts as a celebration of the animated career of the cartoon mouse.
Initially they wanted to have the game release simultaneously with all the other Mickey merchandise that was devised for the anniversary. However with the decision to make a game coming quite close to the required date, it would have only provided the development team 6 months to create the game, all the way from scratch to the final release. Thankfully this idea was soon scrapped and the correct decision to take the extra time and create something actually worth-while was made. The concept was to have Mickey travel back in time into his own history, re-living the adventures from his classic cartoons.
That game was Mickey Mania.
Finally released in 1994 for the Sega Genesis/MegaDrive, Sega CD, Super Nintendo and then again in 1996 on the original Playstation with some extra bits and new graphic treatments. Mickey Mania is a platforming game that surprisingly provided quite the challenge for not only an 8-year-old me but also the 29-year-old weirdo you’re listening to now when I slapped that cartridge back into my system. You bounce on baddies to beat them, collect marbles to throw at them and try not to fall at the same jump, over and over and over again. Welcome to platformers.
The first animated short revisited in the game is “Steamboat Willie” the first widely distributed Mickey Mouse cartoon. It’s a docks level cleverly designed in black and white, keeping it aesthetically similar to the original short but as you progress through the stage it slowly becomes more and more colourful, adjusting itself to the vision of the modern-day, colourful mouse reliving his past.
“The Mad Doctor” is next, set in a creepy, cobweb riddled dungeon that is home to several large bats and skeletons that spin their own heads off just before they explode. Their bones fly everywhere at random and each one is able to hurt you, this stage definitely gave me trouble as a kid. Especially the showdown with the mad doctor himself. What a bastard.
“Moose Hunters” follows which is an unfortunately short level which changes the pace as it forces you to slow down and be more weary of your surroundings as boulders will just fall right out of the bloody sky! You get to walk alongside Mickey’s trusty pooch, Pluto as well, who becomes incredibly helpful when it comes to dodging the massive moose that gallops through the screen every so often…The stage ends with a great running towards the screen segment as you try to flee the aforementioned moose, RUN, MICKEY, RUN!
Up next is “Lonesome Ghosts”, which sees Mickey stuck in a haunted house filled with stairs that will turn into slippery slope the moment you step on them, ghosts that will show up just to
generally hang out and ruin your day, ghosts that want to whack you with a huge plank of wood and also ghosts that try to sneak up on you while in plain sight before they lob their lethal-ghost hats at you like some kind of rejected bond-villain.
“Mickey and the Beanstalk” is next, which is probably the most pleasant looking location we’ve been in so far, in a giant’s paradise with butterflies and apples and HOLY CRAP THE FLOWERS SPIT SEEDS AT ME! There is actually a final level to Mickey Mania based on 1990’s Prince and the Pauper but I just couldn’t bloody get to it! This game is tough, despite it being a seemingly kid friendly Disney game, I just kept running out of lives which was a welcome, if not frustrating brick wall to hit when so accustomed to today’s autosaving, reload as many times as you need, standard.
Mickey Mania is a good game, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a great game. Jumping can occasionally feel imprecise. The hitboxes that determine whether a projectile actually hit you or not aren’t exactly spot on, which can be very frustrating when so many of the levels contain chucked items of some sort. Whether they’re Oddjob’s dead ancestors’ hats or bones that are flung about like a Mortal Kombat “brutality” or even those poxy seeds, something will unexpectedly kill you, whether you like it or not. However it does look great and is animated well to accurately mimic the source material. In the long line of videogames made just because something else is happening in the franchise, whether it be a movie or tv show or whatever, this one definitely has it’s heart in the right place and for that, I think I like it more than I should.
Don’t take my word for it though, try it out for yourself, the superior PSOne version is on the Playstation Network store Mickey’s Wild Adventure. If you’re looking for an old-school platform game with plenty of challenge and the added bonus of a charming walk through cartoon memory lane then this could just be something you should look out for.
I’ve been Mike Notridge, and I will see you next time.
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