Gameplay, Story and Value:
World of Illusion is a sequel, of sorts, to Castle of Illusion. That’s… really not true though, as World of Illusion plays very differently than Castle, and frankly improves on it in every way!
Mickey’s signature butt-bounce from Castle of Illusion has been replaced with a magic cape, which can be swiped over enemies to
kill them turn them into flowers or woodland creatures. This more lateral means of attack actually goes a pretty long way of changing the gameplay dynamic when coming from Castle of Illusion. That’s not to say the platforming is missing though, not at all, in fact it’s also been improved upon! World of Illusion sees new takes on familiar levels like the spiderweb forest, while introducing entirely new mechanics such as a stage where you navigate a flying carpet through the sky, or swim in a bubble under the ocean.
The whole premise of the game is that Mickey and Donald have been sucked into some magical dimension, a “World of Illusion”, if you will. In order to escape, they must defeat Pete after navigating his various worlds within a magic mirror. Beating the game doesn’t take too long, and it’s difficulty leans towards the easier end of the spectrum, but once you’re done you can play through again as Donald or grab a second controller and play through a co-op campaign! This adds a lot of value to what would otherwise be a very light game.
Levels in World of Illusion are your basic “Move Right” affairs, which really works just fine for this type of game. Stages are varied enough that you never get too bored. Boss fights are fun, favorites being an angry shark in a pirate ship and an encounter with Madam Mim herself from Sword and the Stone fame, though these also tend to feel overly easy.
World of Illusion also introduces a dash mechanic which, while not a fault of the game itself, really doesn’t feel very good on a Genesis controller. Luckily, save for a couple collapsing hallways, the game never requires you actually use the dash. Unfortunately, you’ll always be compelled to.
Presentation, Music and Sound:
Visually, World of Illusion feels leagues ahead of its predecessor. The environments all look distinct and varied, animations are expanded and look fantastic and everything just feels so much more “Disney” than it did in Castle of Illusion. My only major complaint, and it’s definitely minor, is that Mickey can’t seem to stop looking UP! Like, I swapped out Genesis controllers because I thought I had a stuck button!
The music is fine, though not nearly as memorable as Castle of Illusion’s. The sound effects, however, have received some major upgrades. Everything sounds unique and original, and I couldn’t pin a single sound effect from Castle, which believe me I was trying to do. In addition, there’s some voice samples from Donald and Mickey to add that extra little touch.
While I’ll never call it one of my favorite platformers on the console, World of Illusion was definitely a good, fun, solid game. I really enjoyed playing it! It really didn’t do anything wrong, though it didn’t quite stand out either. All in all it was a great experience, not to mention the added awesomeness that is co-op! After watching me play through this my daughter has a new favorite Genesis game, so there’s that, too!